Al's Photoshop Tutorial
Version 2.0
See Table of Contents or History for what's new.

Welcome! Long ago, I received a number of letters asking me how I do some of the coloring and effects I do on my digitally-colored pictures, so I thought I'd make a tutorial that covered some of the techniques I use to make my images in Adobe Photoshop. Years later, that simple idea had snowballed into this rather detailed tutorial. It's aimed at people who are artistically inclined but may not know much about digital paint programs, and covers digital inking, coloring, shading, and some basic effects used to produce cartoon-like imagery. This tutorial focuses on not only methods and techniques, but also tries to shed light on a deeper understanding of how Photoshop works. This tutorial aims to teach you both the basics and some advanced concepts.

A note on terminology: In the tutorial, I will use a sort of shorthand to indicate were a menu item is located. For example, an action that I refer to as "Image » Adjust » Desaturate" could be found in Photoshop by going into the "Image" menu on the top bar of the screen, moving down to the "Adjust" sign until it shows its sub-menu, and selecting "Desaturate" there.

What you'll need:
  • Photoshop. All the screenshots in this example come from various versions for Windows, but Macintosh/IRIX/etc should be almost identical.
  • A Scanner or some other way to get the image of a sketch into the computer is needed, unless you have a digital drawing pad that you're comfortable enough to sketch with, or if you have a freakish and uncanny ability to draw well with a mouse.
  • A Digital Drawing Pad is recommended, but is not needed. It's a lot easier to do some of the steps with one, but it is possible, if time-consuming, to do them with just a mouse. If you're interested in buying a pad, the best ones are made by Wacom.

Relevant pages:
New CourseThe tutorial for users of Photoshop versions 7.0 and above
Old CourseThe tutorial for users of Photoshop versions 4.0 through 6.x
Advanced ConceptsTechniques for experienced Photoshop users
DownloadsDownload all the pages and images used in the tutorial so you can follow it off-line
Table of ContentsA list of all pages, including the sub-steps
GalleryA gallery of some works others have done using this tutorial's techniques
HistoryPage history and news
OthersOther Photoshop tutorials available on the Internet
FeedbackSend your feedback to Al
HomeAl's home page, with more artwork and other things

Graphics Software Featured Site This site is a featured site on's Graphics Software section.

All text, images and other content found in this tutorial (except of course for screenshots of Photoshop's interface) are copyright 1999-2003 by Alan Mackey.