How to Edit Drawings in Photoshop


If you want to add color to a black-and-white drawing, accentuate details or finish a rough sketch, Photoshop makes it possible. Many artists hesitate to touch-up or erase portions of drawings on paper, since changes are permanent. Editing drawings in Photoshop solves this predicament. By converting traditional art to digital, and with the use of a drawing tablet and pen, you can alter your drawing without the risk of ruining the original.


  • Scan the drawing into Photoshop by going to “File” > “Import.” Click on the appropriate scanner from the list that appears.

  • Make sure to click on “Preview” in the scanner dialogue box. This will give you a visual of what the scan will look like when complete.

  • Ensure the resolution of the scan is set to a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch. Some scanners even have an “Illustration” setting that will automatically set the resolution for you. Once your settings have been adjusted to your liking, click on “Scan.”

  • Go to “Image” > “Rotate Canvas” to adjust the position of the drawing. For example, if you have a landscape drawing, it will scan as a portrait. Rotate the canvas 90 degrees to convert it to landscape.


  • Adjust the contrast and levels of the drawing. Choose “Image” > “Adjustments” > “Levels.” Modify the shadows, mid-tones and highlights tabs on the Input Levels bar until the desired contrast is achieved on the drawing.

  • Change the color of the drawing using two different methods. Go to “Image” > “Adjustments” > “Color Balance” and slide the tabs on the color bars to balance red, blue, green, cyan, magenta and yellow tones in your drawing.

  • Add color to a black-and-white drawing. Go to “Layer” > “New” > “Layer.” Label the layer “Color” and change the Mode to “Multiply.” The “Multiply” mode preserves the line work of the drawing when painting over it. Color over the sketch using the desired brush type chosen from the "Brush" drop down from the Options window along the top of the screen. You can also add shadows and highlights to a drawing with this method.

  • Finish a rough sketch by utilizing your drawing tablet. First, go to “Image” > “Adjustments” > “Desaturate.” This will ensure a clean black-and-white drawing. Go to “Window” > “Brushes” and click on “Shape Dynamics.” Then, under the Size Jitter Control, select “Pen Pressure.” When drawing with "Pen Pressure," if you push hard on the tablet pen, the line will be heavier; if you push lightly, the line will be thinner. Create a new layer, then choose a textured brush such as Chalk, Pencil or Stipple to finish the line work on your sketch.

  • Draw additional elements. For example, if you wanted to know what your character design would look like wearing a hat and sunglasses, simply add a new layer and draw in those elements. Click on the eyeball in the box next to the layer on the Layer Palette to turn off that layer.

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  • Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Lifesize/Getty Images
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