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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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BONUS MATERIAL for Debbie's 2018 SCBWI-LA Photoshop Tips Class For Illustrators

(Last updated: July 18, 2018)

The following are some of the links and resources were mentioned or referenced during my Photoshop Tips workshop at 2018 SCBWI-LA. 

------LEARNING PHOTOSHOP------- Photoshop training and tutorials: check with your library to see if you can get free access! If you're in Toronto, for example, you can get access through the Toronto Public Library with just your library card.

Adobe website has links to many Photoshop tutorials.

YouTube has many Photoshop tips videos (of varying quality/usefulness) including Photoshop tips for illustrators.

----- PSD TEMPLATES by Debbie ------


Blank template (model: SEA MONKEY & BOB) - Double spread, 12"x8" single page (7 MB)

Blank template (model: I'M SAD) - Double spread, 8.5"x11" single page (3.5 MB)

Blank template (model: SAM & EVA) - Double spread, 10"x10" single page (5.3 MB)


Jen Betton explains how to remove texture from scanned watercolor backgrounds. "A lot of watercolor artists have a texture problem – when the painting is scanned, all that lovely texture that grabs the paint also grabs the light from the scanner, and it can be overly noticeable in light areas of the image. So what are some ways to soften or eliminate this texture?"

CG Cookie Concept scans his pencil sketches into Photoshop, including using adjusting black/white levels to increase contrast, using Color Range window to select the background white so he can delete it. He uses Multiply on the pencil layer (with some opacity) to darken the line art:

How Holly Exley scans her color watercolor paintings into Photoshop, including using the Magnetic Lasso tool to separate her art from the paper background (but also see the Select & Mask resources below):


Kyle T. Webster's brushes are available through Adobe Creative Cloud (included in membership cost). Can be downloaded and installed for use in Adobe Photoshop CC and Photoshop Sketch. - These are Tool Presets rather than Brush Presets, but can easily be converted to Brush Presets.

DeviantArt Photoshop brushes

Adobe's guide on how to create and modify brushes in Photoshop


Layer basics: Introduction to Layers in Photoshop - On Adobe website (includes video).

Beginning of this video gives a great overview of the Select & Mask feature (newly mproved in Photoshop CC 2018):

Aaron Blaise shows how locking layers can speed up your process:

How to use Layer Masking, vai Adobe Creative Cloud Youtube channel:

How to use Photoshop Layer Masks In Digital Paintings: 5 Tips (from 2016, so some interface details slightly outdated)

How to paste a texture into a layer mask, by Julieanne Kost:

------USEFUL TOOLS AND FEATURES ------------

Creating an action for batch processing in Photoshop - Powerful feature in PS that can save you time by performing repetitive tasks and for batch processing multiple images. Thanks to K-Fai Steele for the tip!

BrushBox - Preset manager, helps organize your brushes and tools. Can tag your favorites, search by name or type. I found out about this from Renee Kurilla's session at SCBWI-NYC.


Make use of the keyboard shortcuts. Here's a list of the default keyboard shortcuts. You can also customize keyboard shortcuts. Here are some great Zoom, Pan and Navigation Documents shortcuts compiled by Julianne Kost.

Do regular backups and have a backup of your backup.

Here's my backup system (combo of Backblaze, Time Machine and an offsite backup)

Keep your brushes organized. This is especially important if, like me, you are a PS Brush packrat. Here's a great tutorial about how to use the new Brush Preset management in Photoshop CC:

How to import and export PS brushes (.ABR files)

Creating A Multi-Page PDF in Photoshop


Also see my Youtube channel playlist: Other artists' Photoshop illustration tips and techniques.

Jess Bircham gives a great how-to tutorial on how she uses her own watercolor technique to make a realistic watercolor painting using Photoshop CC, including how to create a watercolor paper texture:

Lucy Fleming uses a painterly style in Photoshop to create an otter illustration. As you watch the video, notice how she organizes her layers, collapsing some of them partway through, using folders and meaninful folder names.

Dan Gartman uses pen tool to create shapes, fill them with flat color, then Airbrush-Grainy Opaque to add texture:

Aaron Blaise explains the basics of Photoshop to those who are traditional non-digital artists who are interested in Photoshop: