Tutorial 002

How to colourize inks using Photoshop.

You can add any colour you want to greyscale inks, and there are a few ways you can do it.

Click on the screen-shots below to enlarge them.

Layer Style

1) Open an ink in Photoshop and double-click on the ink layer in the Layers palette.

2) Click on Colour Overlay in the Styles list on the left side. Here I’m using the red that Photoshop offers by default, but you can click on the colour chip to open the Picker.

3) Open the Blend Mode drop-down menu and experiment with different modes.

4) Here, I have set the Blend Mode to Exclusion, which gives a very interesting effect.

5) Experiment with the Opacity slider. Exclusion and Difference modes look very similar at 100% opacity but have completely different results at 50%.


Colour Layer

1) This method gives you more control over how the colour affects the ink.  I created a new layer above the ink layer and filled it with yellow, then set the blending mode to Soft Light. I also made the yellow layer a Clipping Layer by Alt-Clicking on the line separating the two layers. You can also do this by selecting the yellow layer and hitting Alt+Ctrl+G, or by going to the Layer menu and selecting Create Clipping Mask. The Clipping Mask makes sure that only the linked layer is affected by the yellow layer.


2) Here I used the Rectangular Marquee tool (hit M on your keyboard) and made a selection on the yellow layer. Then I feathered the selection (Alt+Ctrl+D, or Select>Feather…) with a radius of about 25 pixels.

3) With the selection made, I clicked the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers palette. This makes a mask on the yellow layer that reveals only what I selected with the marquee tool. The revealed area then affects the ink layer below, according to my blending mode (Soft Light).


Ink as Blending Layer

Yet another way to colour an ink layer is the reverse of the previous method.

1) Make a new layer below the ink layer and fill the new layer with a colour.

2) Double-click on the ink layer and experiment with the Blend Modes. Depending on the light/dark range in the ink layer, you will get very different results from each mode.



Choose a brush and set its Blend Mode to Colour (or any other mode) in the top left corner. Now paint directly on the ink layer.

You can also paint with a brush in Normal mode on a layer above the ink layer. Then change the Blend Mode of that layer, as described earlier.



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  1. […] Tutorial 002, we used Layer Masks to add colour to a texture. In this tutorial, we are going to use a texture as […]

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