How to Edit Your Copic Art in Photoshop

Garrett Ley | June 27, 2017

Illustrator Garrett Ley shows you his editing techniques for transforming Copic art in Adobe Photoshop. He integrates QR codes to promote his "Only Human" artbook project.



To see me color the actual piece with Copic markers, watch the video below! Be sure to switch your YouTube resolution to 720 or 1080p in the bottom right corner of the video so you can see it clearly, as it was meant to be seen!

I did this piece to illustrate the feeling one gets when using technology. "Cloud 9" is a phrase people use to describe an elated state of mind, and I thought that technology provides this feeling for too many of us these days.


Until recently, I've always struggled with scanning artwork and editing my digital images to look similar to the original. This is very difficult to achieve! I thought this digital themed drawing would be the perfect chance to share what I've learned about scanning and editing with fellow Copic users! This tutorial is not the only way to achieve this, but it's what's worked for me.


  • Finished Copic piece
  • Scanner
  • Adobe Photoshop (any type)

Step 1: Scan as a TIFF


The image I am using happens to be too big for the scanner. I scan the first half as a "TIFF" to ensure maximum image quality.


If you don't want to have to scan the image again to have to print it, select 300 dpi. 300 dpi is printable quality and is your best bet for resizing, etc.! On many scanners, this can be referred to on the actual scanner, rather than a dialogue box.


Then, I do the same for the next half of the image.

Step 2: Into Photoshop

05_only_human_by_garrett_ley_600x450.jpgI bring both parts into Photoshop and merge them together by dragging them into a large blank file, lining up where the images intersect, and erasing some dark parts of the overlap.

Step 3: Adjusting the levels


Now, I adjust the levels to restore the contrast, colors, etc. There are many different ways to go about editing the levels, but I like using Adjustment layers because you can always go back and change them and click the eye on and off to be able to see what your image looks like with or without the adjustments. 

I know it looks complicated, but it's actually pretty easy to understand!

Above is the histogram, the graph-looking thing. Where the arrow is pointing is where the information for the "darks" start. The flatness to the left of it is empty information, or information that prevents your image from having the most contrast it can. To delete this information, drag this slider to the right. It's the same for the white side! To see how far you should take it, refer to your original image. You want to replicate this image, not enhance it! As you know, Copics are saturated enough - we don't need the computer overexposing the already rich colors!

07_only_human_by_garrett_ley_600x450.jpgThese were my "magic numbers" - numbers that made it look the best it can, while still looking almost identical to the original image!

Step 4: Adding detail, digitally

08_only_human_by_garrett_ley_480x360.jpgNext, I decided to add detail to the iPad screens, digitally! By selecting the interior of the iPad using the pen tool (or lasso, depending on what you prefer), and not selecting where I do not want a highlight, I can add a gradient in any direction I want.

Step 5: Adjusting the Vibrance


Afterwards, I adjust vibrance. Again, you want to find your "magic number" - don't make it overly vibrant, but just enough so that it doesn't have the dull scanned look. I do not take this step for every piece - but some need it.

Scanners have a hard time with the color orange and I knew that an orange this bright could have been missed!

Step 5: Adjusting Saturation

10_only_human_by_garrett_ley_492x179.jpgNext, I adjust hue / saturation. I do not want to oversaturate, as that can be extremely damaging - was a very bad habit I used to have! Resist...resist...


Here is how it looks after the adjustments so far!

Step 6: Adding QR Codes

Next, I digitally add the QR codes. I begin by dragging the code in.


Next, I change the Blend Mode of the layer to "Multiply" so you are able to see right through the white, and don't have to go about selecting and erasing.


Then, I adjust the opacity so that it blends more into the image! Opacity is just how much you can see through an image. Turned it down to about 50, so it was about half see-through, like a Copic overtop of another Copic would be.


Now, I go up to "Edit" and select "Free Transform" so that I resize the image while constraining it's proportions by holding "shift."

I then skew the image by moving my mouse outside of the selection and holding it down, skewing it as I move the mouse left and right.


Next, I warp the image by selection Edit > Transform > Warp so that it fits along the folds more. This takes finesse and practice, so don't be discouraged on your first try! (I hadn't even used warp before this image. It takes some getting used to, but you'll get the hang of it eventually!)


After a lot of hard work adjusting the QR codes, I add a gradient to the corner of the flag, and it is complete!

Hope that was helpful for everyone!


Topics: Illustration, Copic

Garrett Ley
Garrett Ley on June 27, 2017

Copic Marker wielding illustrator ★彡 Sequential Art student at SCAD.