Digital Coloring for Comics GIMP Edition Part 3


This tutorial will instruct you on how to color lineart made from scans within GIMP 2.8.

If you’d like a printable version of this tutorial for your classroom or for personal use, click here!

To check out our article about GIMP, click here!

Required materials:

GIMP 2.8

Save for Web plugin installed to GIMP

The Tutorial:

1. Now, finally, we’re getting to the coloring part of the series of tutorials! This is a pretty basic part. Open your inks file.


2. Select the layers panel (on the right side of your workspace)

3. If it isn’t open, because you accidentally closed it or something, click “Windows>Dockable Dialogs>Layers” or use the shortcut “Ctrl+L” for a PC, “Command+L” on a MAC.

4. Within the layers palette, create a new layer by clicking on the blank page icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

5. A new layer option box will come up. Make sure you set the layer to “transparency” before clicking “ok”

6. Now go back to the layers palette. Make sure that the new layer is above the line art layer by dragging it above. Select the blank layer.

7. Double click it and rename it “colors”

8. Now, under “Mode,” at the top of the layers palette, select “Multiply”

9. Click “File>Save as”

10. Making sure you are in the original folder you were working in, name the new save file “Filename_colors.xcf” (“.xcf” is the GIMP editable file, remember?). Then click “Save”.

11. Select the “Zoom Tool” (magnifying glass) and select the first area you want to color. You can select a specific area of your art piece by clicking, holding down, and dragging over that area with the magnifying glass.  In this case, I am selecting the girl’s hair to color first, so I have selected her head.

12. Now you can select the “free select” tool by clicking on it from within the toolbox, or by clicking quick key “F” on your keyboard.

13. Now start selecting the area you want to color. I would suggest selecting from within the outlines so that the colors extend out beneath the edges of the art. This reduces the likelihood of missed space in the coloring. When you connect the original point where you started the selection with the end of your selection, your selection with generate.
3TUT13-13TUT13 3TUT13-3

14. Within the toolbox, select the paint bucket tool.

15. At the bottom of the toolbox, double click on the foreground color to change the color you will be using.

16. From within the color selector choose the color you would like to color the selection in with.

17. Within your selection, making sure you are within the “Colors” layer, click on the selection to drop the color in.

18. Now repeat steps 11-15 this for all of the selections you can possibly make in your drawing to color it in.

19. Before you finish, make sure that you click “File>save”

20. Now, to finalize the image for print settings, click “File>export”

21. In the options box that pops up, name the file “YourFilename_FINAL_PRINT” (This is to indicate that this file is optimized for printing. It is a large file at this point, so I wouldn’t try and use it for anything else.) Click “Select File Type” and choose “.jpeg” and then click export.

22. Click “Image>Scale Image”

23. In the scale image options box, within the width field, choose a number under 1000 (which represents pixels) and then hit tab on your keyboard and the height should change as well. Now go to the “X Resolution” and change the number from “600” to “100” and click tab again, the Y resolution should change. Then click scale.

24. Using the handy dandy, “Save for Web” plugin for GIMP, I am going to now save my file so that it works for web sharing faster and easier. (You will need this plugin for that step, so if you don’t have it installed, take a minute to do so now)

Click “File>Save for Web”

25. In the “Save for Web” options box make sure the “jpeg” setting is selected. Adjust the “Quality” and “Smoothing” options keeping an eye on the “File Size” indicator. (It should be under 100kb for web use) then click “Save”

26. Within the “Save image” options box, name the file something like “filename_final_forweb.jpg” to indicate it is for web usage. Then click save.3TUT26

27. Now you can click out of GIMP. Don’t save anything at this point because the scaled image might accidentally override the settings on your large print file.

You are done!






13 Responses to “Digital Coloring for Comics GIMP Edition Part 3”

  1. Darija

    I can’t believe it! After so many tutorials I came to this easy-to-understand one. You don’t need any prior knowledge of gimp. Thanks a lot!

  2. Ella

    GIMP has been so daunting for such a long time, this tutorial really helped express the simplicity of it, especially with layers. Thanks for sharing your knowledge! Do you have or know of other tutorials that center around more advanced techniques like shading?

    Thanks again! 🙂

    • Kevin Cullen

      Glad the tutorial helped! Shading is definitely a tricky bugger and does take some advanced knowledge of Gimp to pull off effectively. I’ll see if I can find some of the more advanced tutorials on the internet and add them to our resource database!

  3. Archsider

    After going through all the three, this is the best Gimp tutorial for comics in my opinion.

  4. Ray

    Hi, I would like to know how to go about flatting in GIMP for comics as required for Colorists/Publishers. I have found the settings to deselect anti-alias and layers for multiply, but I seem to missing a step or two because I can’t get the colors/selections behave in the way I need where their edges right against eachother without any artifacts/background/overlapping?

    • Patrick Yurick

      Hmm… Good question. I need to do some research to answer this as I’m not exactly sure. Email me in a couple of weeks if I don’t get back to you.

    • Patrick Yurick

      This article/tutorial is SUPER old so I have no idea what the plugin looks like now. That being said, I’d imagine that GIMP does this natively nowadays. Apologies for the slow response.

  5. Sandra

    I left a comment asking where to find the plug-in, now my comment is gone, and no one has helped me. What the heck?

    • Patrick Yurick

      Apologies sandra – I needed to approve the comment and I haven’t checked in on this site for months. If you figure out a solution please let me know. Thanks!


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