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What are Non-Photo Blue Pencils? A quick how-to.

For those of you that like drawing and doodling, but don’t know what non-photo blue pencils are, you’re missing out. Non-photo blue pencils are what I use for all of my underdrawings in my comics before I go over it with pens and ink. The purpose of non-photo blue pencils is so that you can scan your inked artwork without any of your underdrawing showing beneath it. Pretty cool, huh? This is a pretty typical tool for comic artists and animators so they can achieve those nice black lines.
There are a few different kinds to experiment with. There’s Prismacolor turquoise non-photo blue lead to put into lead holders, standard non-photo blue pencils from Staedtler or Prismacolor’s Col-Erase, and non-photo blue mechanical pencils. I like all of these except the Col-Erase. It tends to be darker and difficult to erase, which makes it hard to rough out a drawing. Some artists can rock it though, so I recommend you try each one to see what suits you best.
I personally like to switch up my non-photo blue pencil to a non-photo pink one. Isn’t that fun?? When creating black and white art, it’s nice to switch up the colors when you can. I got these two pencils at Jetpens, and I use them all the time. Maybe I’ll get the purple next…
Now, this method works best when you use a black and white scanning setting. Don’t fret if you only know how to scan in color though! Just open it up in Photoshop, open the channels (which are behind the layers tab), and move the cyan channel’s opacity setting down. Or the magenta channel if you used a non-photo pink pencil, of course. If you don’t want to mess with channels, you can always play with the levels setting instead too.

Sometimes you’ll have some blue lines that refuse to disappear. Especially if you bear down on your pencil too hard when you draw, or if you go over and over a certain area. The dodge tool should wipe it out those persistent leftover lines easily.

And that’s it! Happy drawing!
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