Colors in Sketchbook

Colors are assigned to your brush, so your ideas can be expressed on the canvas. Most coloring tools (with the exception of Flood Fill‍) can be found in the Color Editor‍. However, the color tools available and their locations will vary with the version of Sketchbook you're using.

Where to begin with color

If you are new to Sketchbook or to coloring, starting this process can be a bit daunting. The great news is that you have layers‍ and undo‍. Both take the stress or anxiety out of coloring. There are also thousands of great, free resources available on YouTube and other websites.

Below, we will look at a very basic and simplified way to build up color in your drawing. By no means is this the only way to do things.

Flat color

Many artists sketch first, then add color. Use layers to separate parts of the sketch, so you can color components separately.  Duplicating layers‍, Locking transparency‍, and Multiply‍ are all tools that can help with this process.

You can start with selecting a sketch layer, duplicating it, and locking the transparency of the duplicated layer. Then color over the layer with one color. At this point you will have a shape that’s all the same color, but you can no longer see your line work. Change the blend mode of the colored layer to Multiply, so you can see both the color and the line work. Repeat the process for each component of the drawing.


Start by determining the placement and direction of the light source. Some people even add arrows on a layer to serve as a reminder of the light’s direction. Duplicate a sketch layer, then lock the transparency of the duplicate, so all coloring stays within the lines. On the new duplicated layer, change the color to a dark color and color wherever a shadow would be. Drag this layer above the color layer, and change the blend mode to Multiply, so the shadow, color, and the line work are visible.

You can then adjust the shadow layer’s opacity to make the shadow more subtle, use the soft eraser to feather the edges of the shadow, or combine the two techniques to get the effect you want.


As with the flat color and shadows, start by making a duplicate of a sketch layer. Drag the duplicate above the shadow layer. Change your color to a light color, lock transparency, and add the light color wherever a highlight would be. When finished, change the blend mode to Overlay so the highlights, shadow, color, and the line work are all visible. As with shadows, you can use layer opacity and the soft eraser to soften the highlights and edges.

Gradient fills

Gradient fills are another way to get a soft transition from light to dark. Start with duplicating a sketch layer and dragging the duplicate above the color layer. Once transparency is locked, use Flood Fill‍ and select one of the gradient fills (Linear or Radial) from the Fill options. Change the blend mode to Multiply, for a gradual shadow and highlight, while the color and the line work show through.