This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

Adding cartoon color in Adobe Illustrator

I am going through my old cartoons and adding color to them. In the old days, this was terrible, as I was using Photoshop. Photoshop is wonderful for, well, photos, and adding soft, subtle color, but it is miserable when what you want is cartoon color. Illustrator does a great job of that.

Technically, this is known as *spot color*. I am still drawing with a black line, and I am adding color kind of like coloring in a coloring book. You can, of course, draw in color, but it starts to get too complicated, and it isn't the look that I want for my cartoons anyway. So here is how you do it -

The first thing you will need to do is to create the lines. You can use your mouse, you can use a graphics tablet (like my new Wacom), or you can use autotrace. The point is, that you need vector lines. Those lines will be on the top layer of your drawing. The layer below it is for color. And while you need to take care with the top layer, you can afford to be messy with the color layer. Rough edges don't matter as they will be covered by the lines on the layer above it. You do have to keep *within the lines*, but it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect. I am using the pen tool, selecting a color, and going click click click.

Color really makes these cartoons pop. And I want *cartoon color*, the smooth, consistent color which was so hard for animators to do in the 1940s with paint. On the computer, it's easy.