What are flats anyway? And why would I need them to color my line art in Photoshop?

These are a couple of the questions I usually get asked about this topic, so before we begin I’ll answer them here.

Laying down the flats for digital coloring in Photoshop is probably one of the most important thing you have to do. If you’ve ever seen airbrush artists paint, you’d probably seen them using masking tapes for ‘fixed masking’ and ‘freehand masking’. Flats function essentially the same way.

In a nutshell; Flats separates key objects in your line art from one another using different base colors. They will be your tools in masking certain areas of your image, so that other areas will not be affected. Once you ave mastered this technique, it will be much easier for you to color your images in the long run.

Now this tutorial presumes you already have the following:

  • A basic knowledge of how to use Adobe Photoshop (the features listed in this tutorial are available from versions 6.0 and up)
  • A basic idea of how to prepare penciled or inked line art
  • A Graphic tablet is recommended, but a mouse is sufficient

So if you’re ready, then on to the tutorial.

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