Oh my stars your art is amazing!!! Do you think maybe you can make a shading tutorial sheet? owo
Hey there Anon! Sure thing! I’ll do my best to explain the process of how I usually do things in regards to coloring and shading. I’m not the greatest at Explaining, so I’ll do my best to keep things as crystal clear as possible!
Step 1: Lineart
I’ll start with Lineart purely because this step is important to the coloring process in one regard, and that is making sure the entire line layer is closed without any holes. Even the smallest little gap will make the selection process hard later, and we don’t want that. So the cleaner lineart you have, the better. I’m going to go ahead and use my Monster Hunter Generations Huntress for this.
Step 2: Selection
Either in Photoshop or SAI or whatever you use, click outside your character and any other negative space surrounding them. This means…basically anything that’s not your character. Then go to Selection > Inverse and invert the selection. You should have something similar to what I have below. This makes it so much easier to add colors without having to worry about all the little nooks and crannies that could mess the cleanliness of the drawing up real bad.
Step 3: Flat Base
Create a new layer beneath your line layer with the selection still active. This will be our color layer. Remove the visibility of the line layer, and fill the remaining “Silhouette” with a dark base color. This makes those nasty corners look a bit cleaner, as sometimes if there is a lighter color your computer will want to make them stand out pixelated. Again, this is just for cleanliness beneath the line layer. Turn your line layer back on, as they will now act as barriers for the fill bucket tool. Make sure the entire silhouette is filled, and that no lines were accidentally selected! You want a see a completely filled and flat color if you turn the line layer off.
Step 4: Flat Colors
At this point you can lock the transparency of your Color Layer, and go ham. Either with the pen or a fill bucket, figure out how you want to color your character and add in the flat colors. Notice I’m on the same layer as the Base that we made. This is so those lines still play nicely with one another. Clean up where necessary.
Step 5: Analogous Color Gradient
Well, we don’t really want our character to be too flat, do we? This is where the color wheel becomes your best friend. Select similar colors with the Magic Wand (like I’ve done her skin tone here) and using the color wheel, choose an analogous (that means “close by” in color wheel terms) color to add a bit of depth to the color. For skin, I usually go with a red or a bronze, sometimes purple. Use the airbrush for this. Then, deselect and select another color to gradient, until all the colors have some degree of new color to them.
See? Now things look interesting! We added some blue to the greens, some purples to the reds, some blues to the grays and so on and so forth.
Step 6: Shading
Okay, here’s where things get interesting. Time to shade. Make a new layer between the Line Layer and Color Layer, and make sure you make it a clipping group/clipping mask. This is so it won’t go anywhere that you don’t have color. Set it to multiply or linear burn (whichever you think looks best) and bump the opacity down to about 40-50%. Choose a color (or color-value gradient, if you have drastic value changes in your piece that make light and dark values not play well with the single color you picked, and swap between those) that you want the shadows to be; I like deep pinks and purples. AVOID BLACK. I first use the Pen tool to get down “hard” shadows - shadows cast by hard materials, close shadows, and inorganic materials. Once I’ve got those down, I head on over to the softer areas, such as the skin, hair and cloth and alternate between the watercolor and marker tools to give “softer” shadows. There’s no real law to this, you just have to know where shadows fall and how they behave and work with those three tools to get the look you want.
Step 7: “Highlights” - Rim Lighting
Okay, these aren’t really “highlights” in the correct sense, but adding sort of “rim lighting” around forms really helps make a picture pop. To do this, make another layer above the shading layer, set it to “screen” and keep the opacity at 100%. Then, get really familiar with your CRTL key because you’re going to be color sourcing a lot. To add a rim light to a form, select the base color of that form, and use the marker to trace along the edges. For example, I picked up the nude from the skin, the silver from the dagger, the gold and maroon from the hair and the tawny brown from the skull to use on those specific objects. Any place you want clean works well, but the edges of forms works best for this technique. Additionally, if you’d like, you can create another layer above the Screen Layer and set it to Linear Dogde, and do my “glowing eyes” technique on anything you want to stand out, such as the metal of the belt, gold objects and of course, eyes.
Step 8: The Overlay
Almost done! While your photo can now stand alone as “finished”, there’s one more thing that I enjoy doing, and that’s adding a simple color overlay to bring the whole picture together. This is done by flattening all the layers you have so far (you’ll want to “Merge Down” in order from bottom to top or “Flatten” to avoid the layers going crazy on each other) into one layer. Then, make a layer on top of that one, set it to a clipping mask, and set it to “overlay”. With the Airbrush, choose some colors (I prefer soft pinks, blues and violets) and go along the “edges” of your character with a BIIIIIG brush. This kind of resembles soft ambient lighting or shadows. I just think it makes the photo look nicer.
TA-DA! And Now we’re done!
And there we go! I hope that helped, and I also apologize cause this ask sat in my box for awhile and I never got around to it until now. :P
I’d be happy to answer any questions y’all have, but this is the simple basics! Remember to practice practice PRACTICE!