Create a transparent version of a drawing in Photoshop

American illustrator Tony Foti explains how to create a transparent copy of a paper sketch to paint under.

Create a transparent version of a drawing in Photoshop

With the scanned image imported in Photoshop (File>Import>Your Device), adjust the level sliders until only the lines you want are left

I find my line work is a lot cleaner when I'm using a pencil and paper, so I work this way quite often. Place a loose piece of paper under your drawing hand to prevent smudging the page.

Once the drawing is finished, you can either import it with a scanner or take a photograph. The latter option generally produces less-satisfactory results, although I'm aware that not everyone has access to a scanner.

Open the Channels window, hold Ctrl and click the RGB layer. This will highlight all of the white space. Inverting the selection will highlight the drawing.

Create a new layer above and fill the highlighted area (Shift+Backspace). You now have a transparent version of drawing, with all of the white space removed

Create a transparent version of a drawing in Photoshop

Adjust the opacity of the sketch as you go, to accommodate the area that you’re working on

Words: Tony Foti

Tony Foti is a US freelance illustrator who contributes to D&D and Fantasy Flight Games' Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings lines. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 103.