hand colored effect

How do you create a hand colored effect, like in the image above, using either Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop? I'd like to know how they colored the arrows and how to add a rough gradient like the one on the blue box.

  • 1
    Looks like it was done with colored pencils on a sheet of paper to me. What makes you think it was done on the computer?
    – Ryan
    Feb 25, 2013 at 14:25
  • I would bet that was done an a computer. The texture is not right for colored pencil at the scale it would have to be to hide the stroke marks. The saturation and gradient is not right for water-color. The closest you could get to that is stippling. And no other medium approaches that texture. Also the file folders are identical. I would guess that was done by an experienced artist familiar with color pencil using Photoshop. For you purposes it would likely be best to just create it by hand and scan it. Feb 26, 2013 at 0:31

3 Answers 3


It does look like scanned and manipulated art. The folders are obviously a dupe, but possibly was conceived as a stand-alone icon and then duplicated. A lot of the brush work looks responsive, which makes me wonder a little about whether it was automatically generated or not.

However, in Photoshop, you can simulate colored pencil using brush dynamics (window>brushes).

Your taste will differ from mine, but I made a preset by selecting one of the "smear" or "splotch" default brushes, and enabling "Scattering" with "Scatter" at 233% on "Both Axes" and a "count" of 7. I then set the brush "flow" to 10%.

I made a layer with a regular brush to draw the outline of a box, and then a layer below that using my brush preset for the shading effects. I painted it using black, and turned on the "color overlay" layer effect.

enter image description here

Note that I drew this with my mouse, so artistic critiques will be met with extreme lugubriosity.

  • +1 for teaching me a new word! lu·gu·bri·ous adjective \lu̇-ˈgü-brē-əs also -ˈgyü-\ 1: mournful; especially : exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful <dark, dramatic and lugubrious brooding — V. S. Pritchett> 2: dismal <a lugubrious landscape>
    – DA01
    Feb 26, 2013 at 21:37
  • 1
    It was a toss up between that and "pouty" :O
    – horatio
    Feb 26, 2013 at 21:38
  • Thank you, horatio! I am so glad that you taught us how to create that effect, even if the original was hand drawn.
    – PixelGraph
    Feb 27, 2013 at 17:32

You can always look for Photoshop/illustrator brushes but its probably just handmade. If you are going for a hand colored effect, why not hand color it (and then scan it)?


I think it looks like it was done by hand & scanned.

  • +1. Most 'hand drawn' effects in digital files are, indeed, actually hand drawn effects scanned in.
    – DA01
    Feb 26, 2013 at 21:35

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