Extracting 1


This tutorial is in the assumption that you don't have PSP, Painter, GraphicsGALE or any other kind of program aside from Microsoft Paint (MSP) where you can edit and color your pictures. So please no emails on how "You can do this on PSP and its easier". Let's assume I don't live under a rock and I know about those kinda things, hmm?

Please note that I do NOT endorse or condone the tracing of other people's artwork for basing, franking, and all general acts of copyright infringement. It's generally frowned upon to trace and display other people's artworks as your own so don't do it.

Now that we have that covered, let's begin.


Seeing a lot of hand-made bases around lately? What about those bad ass pixel drawings people do? How do they even begin to start that? Well I tell you that not every pixel artist starts with pixels. Nope. They usually draw/sketch out their idea first and then input the sketch in pixel programs or PSP with layers.

Sure, they have PSP or GraphicsGale or some kind of cool program like that for that, all you have is MSPaint. Don't give up. You too can make beautiful pixel drawings from sketches too and even make it appear as effortless as they do.

Outlining a.k.a. Tracing

If you remember my explanation of the color replacement in the previous lesson, then you should have an understanding of what i will be talking about. For the first part of this particular method, these would be your favored tools:

allows for far less mistakes when outlining your work and a lot more clean lines.
We may be using as well but only for very specific outlining that the line tool isn't capable of. This is really a mouse-only type of job so put your tablet away if you have it. You'll see that the mouse isn't that scary. And perhaps with this exercise you'll learn to like the mouse a little bit more.
And lastly, . Cause, well, I never ever outline detail without getting close in there.

First and foremost... draw your picture! I won't really teach you the intricacies of that step but lemme draw one up real fastů

look it's a little witchlikethingie!

Okay now that we have a picture (tadaa), we scan it in somehow. If you dun have a scanner use a digital camera and take a picture. It dun matter how you do it, so long as you can see it, it is relatively straight, and can be imputed into the computer.

Open or copy (CTRL-C) the scan into MSP. Resize (CTRL-W) the picture the size you want to work with cause that will be the size it's going to be. Save (CTRL-S) the picture as a BMP (24-bitmap, the highest range of bitmap you make:).

Now, choose a contrasting color from the 28 default colors. NOT from a custom color. It doesn't matter if you pick pink or black, it will all end up a different color when you put finishing touches. If you don't know what I am talking about please reference back to the Colors lesson.

For this exercise I chose black because it is the most contrasting color from the red colored pencil. Customarily my work isn't always in red colored pencil and the contrasting color I use is hot pink, which is a comparatively stark contrast then the grey of pencil.

notice how the line is easy to see and sticks out?

Now we are going to take our line-tool and just trace right over that picture. (If this is an original scan, make sure you saved it separate from this incase you mess up. NEVER trace an original, always a copy of an original. It's a pain to rescan things and start over.)

There are several ways to avoid messing up. Keep in mind that you only have three undos, so you can do one of a few things.

One is keep the original next to the traced piece on a large canvas. That way if you mess up an area you can use the to select that part and paste over the part. You can also just use the color replacement method and replace the line with a color matching the sketch. Impurities in the sketch are not important as they get erased in the long run.
A trick I use when a line isn't going the way I want: before I set the line down and I know I don't like it, I right-click. The line goes away without me having to undo it, which essentially allows for 4 undos if you think about it.
Don't worry if the line isn't perfect, that can always be fixed later after clean up. But to avoid a more "boxy" look to your tracing, make shorter strokes more frequently, then the curves will be a lot smoother. Sometimes it might be time consuming, but it's worth it. Afterall, if you care about your work, it shows.

notice the hats?


Alright, so now you got it all traced with its wacky colors and all. "How do I clean up?" you're wondering. If you're thinking of going there and erasing things manually: don't. That is just too annoying of a step to do. Especially if there was a lot to trace and the picture is colorful and complicated.

So here are interesting steps, make sure to follow along, even if it might sound silly:

  1. Open up another MSP window, that way you have two.
  2. In the new MSP window, save the blank page as a 16 color bitmap. (save it someplace where you know it is, you might be using this a lot.)
  3. There will be a window that asks: "Saving into this format may cause some loss of color information. Do you want to continue?" Click Yes.
  4. Go back to the first MSP window and select and copy your picture.
  5. Paste it into the second MSP window.
VOILA! Now your picture has been put down to the lowest 16bit colors it can get to. Now you see why you couldn't use custom colors. The only colors that exist now are the 28 default colors. And your trace, if you did it right, should stick right out on it's own.
the sketch is reduced to it's simplest form

But we're not done yet.

There are two ways to get rid of the colors and single out your trace. One is to use the color replacement method to erase the colors without touching your trace, (If you remember my explanation of the color replacement in the previous lesson, then you should have an understanding of what i will be talking about.) which is ideal if the picture was simple with very little colors.

But if your picture was complex then color replacement may not get all the stray pixels. So what I do is, in the second MSP window, I select and copy the picture then press delete.

DON'T PANIC! So long as you don't copy anything else you are good. If you think you are going to copy something, then paste the picture back into the MSP window so you can come back to it. And don't forget the three S's: "Save, Stupid, Save!"

Then I copy the picture back into the window-Don't deselect it! Should look the same as it was right? Make sure the "transparency icon" is highlighted on the side then go down to the color and RIGHT CLICK one of the colors under the trace.

The color is completely gone! Replaced by white now and no sweat off your brow, no sir! Deselect it and select it again. Copy it. Delete it. Now there should be a box of the color you had just picked. Use the fill tool and Left click the box and it should fill with white (assuming you have white as your first color). Paste the picture back in and the color you just erased should still be gone. Right Click another color under the trace and that color will disappear now too. Starting to see a pattern?

Ready for coloring!

Keep repeating those steps until you completely isolated your trace. Make sure you didn't delete the other trace colors. It should look like this.

In Closing

Tadaa, voila, and hazaa! You have a cleaned up pixel trace. And without the use of layers! Copy and Paste your trace back into the first MSP and it's ready for cleaning, color replacement, and coloring.

All finished! and i didn't have to start a drawing in Paint to do it!

All done! But let's say you want to trace a person and not a drawing? The next lesson should explain those questions.
(c) Shelby Wright 2011. All Rights Reserved