This is the image we’re going to be working with for this tutorial. It’s the second version of this cover, and it’s still not going to be the one we use on the actual print version. If my old roommate Keith happens to read this, I’m sorry for ragging on you for redrawing the same things over and over. I’m doing it too, now…

Anyway, we want to start with the linework. In the previous version of this tutorial, I went over the pencilling, inking, and scanning stages, but I’m skipping that this time, because I didn’t take any pictures of this while I was working on it. Sorry.

What I’ve got here is a 600 dpi black-and-white bitmap, which is the final stage of the scanning process. It’s important to have it as a bitmap, with aliased lines, like so:

What you’re looking at there is a very highly enlarged view of the bottom of Jonny’s ear and the side of his neck. You can see that there are only black and white pixels, no grays at all. We want the linework to stay like this so it will print as crisply as possible. If we have lots of gray antialiasing, we’ll end up with fuzzy lines in the final print version. This doesn’t apply for web publishing, of course, but who knows if you’ll ever want to put your work into print? Plan ahead, I always say. Might as well prepare for it just in case.

Now, we want to get ready to color this, so we’ll have to convert it to CMYK, printing color standards. As it stands, it’s a bitmap, and for some reason Photoshop doesn’t like to convert directly from a bitmap to a CMYK file, so we’ll convert it to Grayscale first. Go up to the Image/ Mode menu and select “grayscale.” You can see that all the other options are grayed out and inaccessible.

Once you’ve done that, you can go back to the same menu and select “CMYK color.” That stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the four transparent inks used for most printing. We use “K” instead of “B” to stand for Black so nobody gets confused and thinks we’re talking about Blue, I guess.

In any case, it’s the CM and Y we’re mostly concerned with, because it’s generally a good idea to avoid K-tones in your colors, as it tends to muddy them up when printed.

We’re just about ready to start coloring! Press on!