Coloring manga scans: a mega-guide

Step 4: checking for mistakes

So you've managed to color your image and are happy with how it looks. But did you check for any mistakes? Here are the most common ones you need to look out for:

Color leaks appear when you color outside the lines unintentionally. For example, if you have a light-skinned, light-haired character against a white background, color leaks are bound to appear. This is what the green screen is for; also, aside from using it near the end of the coloring process, you should stick with a background color that allows you to see what you're doing at all times.

Blank spots are bits that you accidentally missed when coloring. These can appear when you try to stick too much to the outline and can be spotted by using the green screen (which is detailed here).

Burn spots are often the result of working with "strong" color modification BMs such as Overlay, Color Burn or Color Dodge. Burn spots are basically bits that make the image look pixelated because the colors don't blend properly; they can "eat" through the image and make it look as if it were drawn in MS Paint.

Parts that are covered by effects like clouds, gradients, textures etc. An effect I often use is the placing of a light orange-colored layer on Darken above the image, which gives it a sepia tint but also covers any lighter colors (the white parts are replaced with orange). Using this may render your highlights useless sometimes, depending on the colors (for example, light-colored hair).

The overall appearance is also important to analyze. Zoom out enough to see the entire image on the screen, look at it for a bit and try to find what might be wrong with it. Did you blend the colors too much/not enough? Is the lineart too sharp/blurry? Are the colors clashing/too pastel? Basically, try looking at the image as if you're seeing it for the first time; if you find anything that stands out in an unpleasant way, it's your cue to fix it.

External Image

Colorization on the top-right (partial) | Colorization on the bottom

Some tools you can use to correct colors are:

  • Selective Color: modifies each major color individually;
  • Brightness/Contrast;
  • Levels;
  • Curves;
  • Hue/Saturation;
  • Vibrance: another control for saturation;
  • Photo Filter: adds different tones to the image (cool, warm etc.);
  • Channel Mixer;
  • Gradient Map: overlays a gradient on the image.

All these appear under both "Image -> Adjustments" and in the Layers palette, under "Create new fill or adjustment layer". What's the difference? The former applies the effects only on the selected layer(s), while the latter creates a new layer above the currently selected one and the effect applies to all the layers below it.

Tip: when used, the tools above create layers with "Normal" as their default BM. Play around with their BMs to get more interesting results!

Ok, no more steps, just parting words this time ^_~