Using Adobe Photoshop CS2 with a Laptop Finger Pad

Darlo compares Photoshop, Paint, a laptop finger pad, and a Wacom graphics tablet.

Warning! These pages can be full of images, please be aware that if you have a slow internet connection they could take a while to load up.


I clicked my lovely Photoshop icon and left my computer for a little bit to let my finger recover. When I came back and saw my Washuu Crabs1 screensaver flying away, I knew it was time to continue. If you’ve never seen Photoshop, GIMP or any other kinds of upper level graphic software before, then what greets you can be a bit daunting. However, most of what’s there you’ll only really use if you know what you’re doing. But to make an Anna manga picture, all we’ll need are a few of the tools. Photoshop uses layers, which means that we won’t have to worry about the background until we’ve finished out main feature.

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I used paths to create the line art; this meant that I could clearly see where all the lines would go before I commit to anything. You can make paths as lines, circles, squares or any shape you need using the Pen tool. If you need a curve, then you just click somewhere on a line to add another anchor point and move it with your Arrow tool. Unlike Paint, Photoshop uses hotkeys so you can quickly move between the Pen tool and Arrow by pressing P and A on your keyboard.

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Now this is where things can be a little bit difficult. If your laptop is five years old and it has been connected to the internet pretty much since its birth, then it would have discovered a well known element of human life called a Sense of Humour. This laptop in particular waits until you’re doing something in Photoshop and will then take control of your cursor and flail it across the screen whilst it pushes your left mouse button in for you. If you’re lucky then nothing will get closed and anything changed in your work can be rectified by simply going back through your actions history until you’re as you were. If you’re not so lucky, it’ll end up shutting down your computer giving you a nice long wait to load everything back up, only to discover you never saved your work. Thankfully this time, the damage was minimal.

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Once all the paths were in place I separated them onto different path layers. Admittedly this was something I could have (and probably should have) done whilst I was originally putting the paths down, but unfortunately not everyone thinks of everything they need when they need to. With a small brush selected, I selected the Stroke Path option, and low and behold, instant line art! Making new pixel layers I did this for each of my path layers.

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Using the Gradient fill (a.k.a paint bucket), I filled in the areas with colour too. It didn’t matter that there were white borders around the edges because this was just so I could get a preview of how the picture would look, and if necessary make any changes. Once I was happy I cleared a layer to prepare it for it lovely smooth line art.

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Making line art the way I did here is slightly different from how I marked it out a few moments ago. Firstly there’re two sizes of brushes used for each stroke. Choosing a small brush (4px) I went back onto the pen tool. Then I selected the path layer I wanted to start the line art for and simply chose the Stroke Path option, like earlier. Then I selected a larger brush (10px) and instead of hitting the Stroke Path option directly, I right clicked the picture and then chose stroke path. This gives the option to simulate pressure, which gives a much more varied line width, and makes the picture stand out more.

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Now we move onto some really easy colouring. I made a new layer underneath Anna’s neck line art and selected that path. Now by choosing a suitable colour for the palette and by right clicking on the picture I had the option to fill the path. Because this is directly under the line art, I didn’t need to worry about being too close to lines etc. There were times where there were gaps from where the paths may have been left open at the ends, but they were filled either by using the paintbrush (in a similar method to Paint) or the gradient fill tool. In the areas that I wanted to be a different colour (Anna’s chest for example) I used the Polygonal Lasso to create a marquee around the area. Then using the gradient fill it quickly formed into the picture I wanted.

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For a nice quick background I found one of my old photos from a research trip to London, and using a few of the effect filters that come with Photoshop, I gave it a real creepy atmosphere. By duplicated and merging the (duplicated) layers, except for the background, I altered one layer properly and gave her a nice mysterious glow.

Complicated as it seems, Photoshop can you help make some awesome images, even if (as I just displayed) you’re only using simple equipment. The time taken however was not as advantageous as Paint and took just over three hours to complete. That being said, I believe that if I hadn’t experienced my laptop’s unique personality, I would have been able to complete this Anna picture in even less time.



  1. – Washuu Crabs Screensaver

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