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The Studio - The Things I've Learnt

Shading Makes the Style: Simple Cell Shading

Flat colours, as nice as they look, still lack the depth needed to make a picture look truly good. The good thing is: a little shading makes a LOT of difference!

Simple Cell Shading is used in most comic styles. Manga in particular, favours this technique, and with good reason! Properly done, it looks good!

The hard part is it takes a lot of practice to be able to predict where the shadows will fall. But hey, that's what the comic is for. Practice!

Step 1

Here we have Lysanne, with all base colours already filled in.

Step 2

We make a new Multiply Layer called SHD (Shading) which we will paint on.

Step 3

Switch to the FG layer, we use the 'Magic Wand' and select the part that we want to shade:

We pick a nice dark 50% Grey, switch to the SHD layer, decide on a light direction, and we then proceed to shade:

Step 4

Rinse and repeat until all areas are shaded.

Hmm... while this already is quite passable... it could be better. Time for the Hightlights!

Step 5

We make yet another layer called 'hl' (HighLights). This time we set the layer property to 'Screen'.

'Screen' is the inverse of 'Multiply. Instead of making things darker, it makes them lighter. Perfect for a highlight layer.

'Screen' Is quite powerful, so you might want to turn down the opacity of your brush.

By the way, 'Opacity' refers to the alpha level of your colours. Think of it as watercolours: The lower the opacity, the more water has been mixed with the paint, so the more transparent and weak it gets. (Hotkeys '1' - '0')

Here, I've used a 'soft' brush to bring out the flame-like tints of Lysanne's hair. Don't be too free with highlightsm though. Use it only where they are needed.

Step 6

And That's it! Some classic cellshading. You need to understand geometry to get the best of it, so practice on objects before you tackle more difficult topics like the human figure:

Just look at the difference a little shading makes!

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