Making a Book in Photoshop: a Tutorial

This book was pretty simple in concept to make; draw pictures, put them in photoshop, use a stamp filter, copy the lines, color with paintbrush tool and add text. Easy, right? Or so it sounds. Buuuut, like any project, things are always a little more complex than they look, so I'm here to walk you through the little steps and help you from going crazy. Yay for not going crazy!

Obviously one of the more important parts of the project: Writing the story! Depending on where your talents lie, this might be the most difficult part. Like they always say, it's best if you write about something you know. And since it's going to be for the little one(s) in your life, you'll probably want to make it about them or something they love. Or both! Write about Kayla's birthday, or the outside world through her eyes, or about her favorite foods or toys come to life, anything! My book was about capturing all the cute/funny/exhausting things Paige does throughout our typical day and how much I love her for all of it. If nothing springs to mind right away, as you watch your son or daughter for the next few days, try imagining them as the subject of a book and see if that helps. And if they do something sweet or funny, jot it down for reference!

Next step...illustrating!

If you're intimidated by the idea of illustrating your book, don't worry, just do your best! Your kids will love your quirky little drawings. And if all else fails, everyone loves a good stick figure! :o) You can start out with pencil and then go over them with darker lines. If you have a scanner, you may not need to do the next few steps, but if (like me) you don't have one, simply take a photo of the drawing straight on and with good lighting (outdoor sunlight worked best for me) and load them up.
Here's how page 8 of my story looked when I loaded it to my computer:

Open your illustration in Photoshop and go to "Filter" in the menu bar. Select "Sketch" then "Stamp". 
(I have a pretty old version of Photoshop, so yours might look quite different from these screen shots.)

Play around with Light/Dark Balance and Smoothness until it looks right to you and click "OK". (Be sure that your color selection is black/white with white as the background color.)

If you see some unwanted black spots here and there, use the eraser tool to remove them.

Since the way I colored the illustrations was with the Photoshop paintbrush tool, which will color over your black lines (not good), I first copied all the lines to another layer. To do that simply choose "Select" from menu bar, then choose "Color Range"...

... in the "Color Range" window, select "shadows" and click "OK".
That will select all the black lines in your picture. Copy the selection (command + c on Mac) and get a new layer. (command+shift+n)
Then paste (command + v) the lines to your new layer. It's important that this layer stay on top of the others.

Ok. Now to color your picture, make another new layer, select the paintbrush tool and your color and go to town! I chose darker colors and then changed the opacity to about 40%-ish because I liked the look of it.

Something I found helpful for the coloring process was this: before coloring your pictures, choose a color scheme. I put all my colors on a separate canvas so that I could use the eyedropper tool on the color I wanted for easy access. That will keep you from saying "what shade did I use for the skin in the last picture??".

Now. After I've explained the way that I colored my illustrations, I'd like to say this: don't do it that way!! Haha. It was a little time consuming, to be honest. A much quicker way to do it would be to use the paint bucket tool. One click, and everything within the lines of that area will be the color you want! The only downside of that is that your lines must connect. If they don't, the paint will escape through the line breaks and color everything else (figure b). So if you can be sure that your illustrations will all have connected lines, definitely use the paint bucket tool. :O) (ah, retrospect) 

 Final step: adding text! Pretty simple: select the text tool and click and drag to create a text box (it will automatically create a new layer for your text). Select your font, color, and size and write that page's part of the story. Then move it around to the area of the page you'd like it to be.

And your done! 
I hope I haven't left anything out, if you have any questions, feel free to ask. And again, even if you don't have fancy photo editing programs or whatever, just use paper and crayons! Your kids will love it either way. :O)

Have fun!!

P.S. I'm not exactly a Photoshop "whiz". If any of you are, you're probably laughing....that's OK. :O)


  1. This is so awesome! I think it's gonna be great.

  2. Loved the story...thank you! You should get it printed in one of those photo " books", just save your story board as a jpeg... Just an idea ;)

  3. I enjoyed your story very very much and it gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I really appreciate your tutorial as I've always wondered what 'layering' are and don't bother to find out because I don't have anything interesting I want to attempt to layer until I saw your tutorial. Great one!

  4. thanks for sharing! I let my daughter to see your book and she loves it much. I´m now trying to make ones for us

  5. Great idea! I think I might use this technique to make a story book with my daughter. I'm sure she'll love helping to color in on the computer and type in the words.

    Love your blog!

  6. Thanks for sharing! This will be very helpful for me when I'll make the Poupinette's book (sorry for my terrible English...)

  7. This is really, really cool, Disney! I've been a longtime reader, and I am just really impressed by how versatile you are! Keep up the great work!

  8. This is awesome, Disney. I literally just purchased photoshop and it should be delivered any day. I am kind of intimidated so this tutorial is really helpful!

  9. Thanks for the tutorial, Disney! i love love love love your book and so excited to make one for my own son!

    How did you print the book? I can't wait to see the final book!

  10. Maybe you may want to put a twitter icon to your site. Just bookmarked the url, but I must do it manually. Simply my 2 cents.

    My site:
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  11. Amazing idea. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm so excited to make some books for my kids.

  12. You are a darling.. I can see us being best friends if we lived in the same part of the world..
    I love every kind of post you draft here with you imagination and genuine interest in everything you do..
    I have been reading your blog for so long, but this is the first time i m leaving a comment..
    It has been great knowing you through here, keep up the funny, full of love posts coming :)
    - Love from India.

  13. Disney, your story and your pictures made me laugh out loud with tears!! Tooo cute! All Mom's should do a story like this!!

  14. For simple shapes were lines don't match up, I'm pretty sure you can select an area using the Marque tool and just choose a fill color for it. Awesome idea! I totally want to make one for my own kids now!

  15. Wow. I think that's going to be a great stuff. I love the idea that you shared and I'm glad to see your inspirations. Nice creations by the way. Keep it up.

  16. I have been plotting to do this for ages- yours is so great and has motivated me to get with it. Thanks for the tutorial!

  17. So cool! I can't wait to try this. Thanks so much for sharing!

  18. Thank you Disney! I wrote a book several years ago and haven't figured out how to "publish" it for my 3 little girls. I'm so thankful you took the time to share this fabulously helpful tutorial.

  19. I just stumbled on your blog and thought this was a cute idea. I'm a graphic designer and bookmaker so this post is right up my alley. If you have indesign by adobe it is easier to work with the text and you can put your images right in but for someone with just photoshop this a really good simple way to do it. Also as far as binding goes I would try a Japanese stab binding, I think it's the easiest to make for people who have never made a book and you can use colorful ribbon as a pretty accent. I don't have a good link off the top of my head but if you google it there are plenty of tutorial.


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