Editing Black and White Ink Art In Adobe Photoshop

Articles & Drawing Tutorials, Editing Ink Artworks, Video

I often get questions about creating t-shirt designs for black color clothing. When I was a beginner, it took me some time to find my way to transform original black art into something that can be printed on dark surfaces 🙂 My tips and experience can be useful for somebody!

Generally speaking, editing art is a subject worth throw light upon. It is as important for out digital age as the drawing process itself.

That’s why I decided to arrange all my videos that relate to the theme of ink art edition and transforming it into anything applied.

  1. Editing Complete Ink Art in Adobe Photoshop

It may seem that when ink drawing is complete, the work is finished: just scan it and it’s all you need to do. But let me show you the process behind editing the scan on the example of this black and white drawing of a sphinx cat.

This artwork was scanned at 1200 dpi at understated brightness, black and white mode, and now I’m cleaning it up in the Photoshop file at 600 dpi. It’s raster, so I need it at a very high quality.

The first step is increasing Brightness/Contrast – it will automatically remove some blurry grey tints.

And then starts the most time-consuming part – I use The Brush tool (white color) to remove all the small black dots and other garbage (pencil lines and occasional marks). Sometimes black lines are scanned not so dark and crisp as I need them to be (it happens with 0.05 and 0.1 mm lines all the time), so I have to redraw them in Adobe Photoshop.

I like using the “nib” brush from this amazing Ray Frenden set, because it is really handy: a thin starting point and pressure sensitivity, so I can vary the line as captious as I need. It’s also very useful to use the Rotate View tool (R).

This artwork is really small, only about 16 cm in height on paper. But you can see how many stray marks it contains in the digital form! I want all my artworks to be perfect, because the cleaner they are, the nicer printed products will look.

Cleaning this artwork took me about 50 minutes, even though it’s small and doesn’t contain really thin hatches made by 0.2 liner and less! When I edit drawings of my usual size and detalization (A3 and bigger), the cleaning stage may require up to normal work day duration. Like it or not – it’s part of the process 🙂

2. What to Do If the Artwork Is Bigger Than Your Scanner

Here you can see my process of joining the two scanned halves of an artwork. This drawing is of the A3 size of paper, and my scanner is only A4.

I’ll show you a method that works great for black and white art.

Description of steps:

1) With the Lasso tool (key L) I select the first part of the artwork and paste it into a new document. Then I paste the second part. I use the Lasso tool because it gives me precision – and also I won’t have to remove the occasional garbage of the scanned image’s periphery.

2) Using the Ctrl + T (the Transform option) I unite pieces as close as I can.

3) I reduce the opacity of one layer – it helps to see where the halves can be successfully applied one above another. Be attentive and cautious 🙂
With the Eraser tool (key E) I remove the backup unit (the part that is doubling)

4) Now we can merge the layers (Ctrl + E)

And then I have the edition process – to make the scanned art look perfect:
I adjust the Brightness/Contrast to remove blurry grey tints;
Repaint the garbage points and places with the Brush tool (white color)
Pay additional attention to the joint line. Sometimes I have to correct something to achieve a nice-looking image.

The edition process is very time-consuming, because I scan my artworks at 600 dpi (black and white mode), and all the pencil marks and an occasional mess is clearly observable. I included the whole process of removing the messy points and marks so you could get the point 🙂

The speed of the video is increased by 4 times.

3. Creating a White Underlayer and a Contour for a Scanned Black Ink Artwork (for a T-Shirt Printing)

Here you can see how I prepare my ink artworks for printing on dark-colored clothes and other surfaces.

Note: in this video, you can see the process for an artwork that has a solid contour, without any breaks – even very small ones. It’s important! If your artwork’s contour has breaks, this method won’t work. Please watch a video that is below, under the number 4.

Description of steps:

1) I click with the Wand tool on the artboard, where my artwork is (the box “contiguous” is checked) and select all white-colored massive, then hit Delete on the keyboard. It will remove the areas where the untouched paper was.
Please be sure that at this step you have a layer, not a background (on the Layer panel)

2) I move the art nearer to take aim better and select the white color with the Magic Wand tool (key W). This time, the box “contiguous” shouldn’t be checked.
I click the right mouse button and choose Layer via cut. It will separate the colors and move them to different layers, which is great for easing the printing.

3) In the Layers panel, I give names to the layers: “black” and “white”, according to the color. I transpose the layers – the white one should be under the black.

4) With the Brush tool, I draw the new white contour that is repeating the original black one.

5) When the white contour is complete, I move to the “black” layer and select all the artwork with the Wand tool. Then I move to the “white” layer and hit Delete on the keyboard. It is necessary for refining the white contour and subtracting the black line from it.

Now I have a nice white artwork! It can be printed solely or in addition to the black layer.

4. Creating a White Underlayer & Contour for a Scanned Black Ink Artwork (a T-Shirt Design)

In the previous video, I’ve shown you the process how you can create a white underlayer and a contour to prepare your black-color art for printing on dark clothes or other surfaces.

That method was for artworks with a solid black contour, and in this video, you’ll see how I deal with more complex artworks that have a broken contour.

By the way, this video is the continuation of the fist part that showed the process of joining two scanned halves of the artwork and the edition (the video number 2 here at this post)

Description of steps:

1) With the Magic Wand tool, I select the white color area around my artwork (the box “contiguous” is checked), and delete it. Here you should have a layer at the Layers panel, not a background.

2) I zoom the artwork closer and select smaller areas of white color which should also be removed.

3) I create a greenish background to see the changes in my file clearer.

4) I select all the white color in my artwork with the Magic Wand tool (that means, the box “contiguous” is NOT checked. Right click of the mouse – choose Layer via cut.

5) Now I have two layers that separate the colors. I move the “white” layer under the “black” one.

6) With the Brush tool, I paint the white spaces that were occasionally selected with the Wand tool and deleted.

7) I create a new white contour all around. Contrast contours like this look great on dark-colored apparel 🙂

8) Finishing steps: with the Eraser tool I refine the white contour here and there.
Then I select the whole black art (on the corresponding layer) with the Magic Wand tool and, clicking on the “white” layer, subtract the selected area.

Here is how I get a nice clean white design that can be printed separately or in combination with the black art layer.

I hope you will find these videos and step-by-step checklists useful 🙂 Thanks for watching!



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