How To Create Legit Vintage Comic Effects

Learn to faithfully reproduce the warm, nostalgic aesthetic of vintage comic book printing with the KraftTone comic coloring system.  

Photoshop featured; watch this tutorial for other apps below.
Procreate  |  Clip Studio  |  Affinity





Your KraftTone paper texture templates are pre-loaded with easy-to-use paper texture effects and all the layers you'll need to get started creating and coloring your artwork.

KraftTone includes 5 high-resolution templates in classic comic book format 3969 x 6073px @300ppi in RGB color mode.


Paper Textures Tips:

Converting RGB to CMYK.

Your paper textures use effects that work in RGB mode only. We recommend completing your artwork first before flattening (Image > Flatten) and converting to CMYK (Image > Mode > CMYK). This avoids any unexpected color shifts and paper texture glitches.

Customizing Paper Texture Effects.

You can easily control the intensity of the paper textures by adjusting the layer opacity of the Texture and Highlight layers as shown below.





Your KraftTone brushes are designed to faithfully replicate the manual processes used by pre-digital comic colorists from the early 1900's to the 1990's. 

All brushes are preset to auto-select the Brush tool and their corresponding CMYK color swatch (CC2019+) so there's no messing around selecting tools and colors each time you change brushes.

Get to know your brushes in the video below. 


Changing the texture scale.

The brushes are preset with a texture scale of 100% but you can easily adjust the scale in the texture tab of the Brush Settings panel (Window > Brush Settings).

CAUTION! Texture scale must match on all brushes used in a formula.

Mismatching brush scales will cause undesirable results so always double check that your texture scale is identical on all brushes used to create a color formula.

How to save a copy of a scaled brush.

Each time you re-select a brush, the texture scale will reset to the default. If you're coloring a large artwork and will be using a lot of different brushes, you can save time by making copy of your brushes with the texture pre-scaled to your preferred size.

To save a copy of a brush, adjust the texture scale in the Brush Settings panel then press the Create New Brush [+] button at the bottom of the Brushes panel and save the brush with a new name.

Be sure to check Include Tool Settings and Include Color before saving.



The KraftTone Color System can create up to 374 colors in both dot and line screen tints.

That's a lot of colors so before you dive in, be sure to watch the video below to familiarize yourself with translating the formulas into brush combinations when coloring your work.

Click here for common skin tones



Now that we know how to use our Formula Guide, let's start adding more color with our dot, line and pressure tint brushes.



Pre-visualize colors with the KraftTone Solid Swatches Palette.

The KraftTone Solid Swatches Palette includes a solid version of every KraftTone formula with matching color codes so you can quickly mockup and experiment before rendering your final artwork with your dot and line brushes.

Looking for a little color inspiration?
Check out our Comic Closeups pinboard.



As if coloring alone wasn't enough, now we get to the really fun stuff... creating custom textures and effects so good, you'll swear you're looking at a scan. 

Working with layer masks, we'll create Non-Destructive Destruction™ (you read that right) that leaves your original color layers in tact. Plus you'll learn to add stains, create registration errors and ink absorbtion effects for that little somethin' extra.


Layer mask tips.

If you're new to using layer masks, there's a couple of handy rules to remember.

  1. Black Conceals and White Reveals. This means that when you paint black on a layer mask, it hides (or erases) the masked image layer. Painting white reveals the image.

  2. Painting shades of gray on a layer mask will reduce the amount of concealment the mask creates. This means that if you want to dial your texture effects down a little, try setting your brush to a shade of 50% gray instead of 100% black.

Future proofing registration-errors.

Once you move the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow or Black color layers to simulate a registration error, your brush textures will no longer align with the color you've already laid down. If there's a chance you may want to make changes or add colors later, consider duplicating your Color layer group before creating registration errors. Future you will be grateful!




Don't you just love the tactile immediacy of real ink printed on paper IRL? You're in luck because KraftTone was designed with screenprinting in mind making it super easy to export your separations ready to burn your screens and bring your work into the physical realm. 

Watch the video below to see how. 

KraftTone Screenprint Tips: 

For simplicity's sake we've output our separations without the distressing textures from Part 5 to avoid getting bogged down in complex pre-press techniques.

There's a couple of key points to consider when screenprinting artwork created with the KraftTone Color System. 

Choosing the right ink.

CMYK prints work best when using translucent ink. This usually involves adding an extender base to your standard Plastisol inks but as always, consult your friendly local print-shop for their advice and expertise.

Choosing the right paper stock.

If you're looking to replicate the vintage aesthetic created by your KraftTone paper textures, be sure to spend the time to source a good off-white paper stock with visible fibres for maximum effect.

Our recommendation? You really can't beat Dur-O-Tone Newsprint White from French Paper Co.

Tutorial Artwork by  Johnny Dombrowski
Both artworks feature paper textures from our Infinite Pulp collection. 

Music: Psychopath by Blood Red Sun


Get the complete KraftTone brush pack here