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How to cell shade - shadows dos and donts by mayshing How to cell shade - shadows dos and donts by mayshing
:w00t: Check out the whole 3 sets on how to cell shade tutorial:

Part I | Part II | Part III

Other cell shading tutorial: [link]


Printable version Zip file download available

Disclaimer: I did this for my helpers to follow my style and do it with the most used lighting condition I handle for my manga. So it doesn't cover everything there is to be known in lighting, nor is it the most accurate. (in fact I just want believably to my eyes.)


Edit: added another section at the end.
Edit2: 1-wrong way to do it, I just simply didn't do it wrong enough. XD

:w00t: This tutorial done for my E-Depth manga/anime project

:w00t: My tumblr: [link]
:w00t: My Studio tutorial blog: [link]


I noticed a lot of people can "cell shade" and there is a lot of cell shade tutorials!

But there's almost zero tutorial on various lighting direction and how it affects shape of the shadows. (and I thought photographs would help, but no.)

At least my style/anime is formulated enough, i can make a template set for people. (especially my helpers) :)

I'm doing a series of this...!
:icondrawingneat:
DrawingNeat Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
May I ask a question?
Im learning about cell shading but what gets me the most are the settings and lighting.
This drawing I did 
drawingneat.deviantart.com/art…
Will have a dark blue but with brighter lights coming from the stars.
But my question will the colors change with that kind of setting?
If so from reading this, the light source (for the girl with that star on her chest) will be coming from the bottom?
The star from the platform will come from the top upper most left correct?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2016  Professional Filmographer
i think i need to do a new one with multiple light source design. Thanks for the idea. 

When there's multiple light source, what u do is you select one to be the major influence with the brightest light, then set ur number 2 light source. The #1 light source can be the main thing the shadow is reacting to, while the #2, #3 light only influence a small area. 

In your picture, the biggest star should be the main influence, you can decide if you want it to shine like the sun, or a big light bulb, and the smaller stars can just have the strength of a christmas light, which is much smaller and may only influence her face, clothing alittle bit. Think of lights like orbs, they have area of affect, and outside of that is just darkness or overall area light. (Even at night if you can see just alittle bit there's light, other wise it should be pitch darkness where you see nothing)

Is that clearly explained to you? 
Reply
:icondrawingneat:
DrawingNeat Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh sort of like in this
picolo-kun.deviantart.com/art/…
How in this one it explains the closest light source is the main focus 
But the rest of the other lights give some off some light to the cat?
(SIDE NOTE: Im currently waiting for a new tablet because the one i have just have a cable broken yesterday while laying out flat colors. Plus it is an old model so it I had no other choice but to get a new model)
Also for coloring if Im going for blue hues then it means I need to lean more for cool colors instead of warm correct?
So how will the lighting be effected by cool colors? Would it mean I have to change the purple dress to blue for it to go with the lighting? 
Reply
:iconbdtite1919:
BDTite1919 Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2016
Helpful.
Reply
:iconmathi-das-m:
Mathi-das-M Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm always struggling with getting the shading right so this is really helpful! Thank you for that! :)
Reply
:iconregitsammo:
regitsammo Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2016  Professional Traditional Artist
cool, thanks :D
Reply
:iconthetimidgamer:
thetimidgamer Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is extremely helpful
Reply
:iconfires-storm:
Fires-storm Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2016  Student General Artist
Incredibly useful, thank you!
Reply
:iconcrusader1081:
crusader1081 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hi there, I read your tutorial, and I felt I learnt something, thank you. However, I do have a question.

Normally, I do Transformers/Robot art and they tend to be blocky and have less very human-ish curves compared to anime (i.e. no hair, muscles, clothings), so I am thinking how to apply your tutorial in my shadings and lightings.

Here's an example of a very recent submission: crusader1081.deviantart.com/ar…
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Professional Filmographer
ah, blocky stuff is a bit different, you need to go into more geometric shapes study. 
Generally I apply gradient over one surface, then put in highlight for things like this. 
This might help you start: androidarts.com/art_tut.htm
Reply
:iconcrusader1081:
crusader1081 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Ah okay. Thanks for the link, although it is a bit tl;dr and very foreign to me, but I will try apply it the next time I draw it.
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Professional Filmographer
i will think about doing a mech cell shade tutorial. :)
In the mean while... just understanding light and shadow is a good start. 
Reply
:iconcrusader1081:
crusader1081 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Anyway, thank you very much :aww:

Did you see the link I just put up? Is there any more improvements?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Professional Filmographer
Yea i saw ur link, very solid drawings, as for the shading unfortunately it's going to be very hard to word it for such complex shapes. 
I would say practice shading various geometric shapes first under different light directions and conditions, cube, cone, triangles, circle, then go and revise your mech character and you will have a better concept on it.
Reply
:iconcrusader1081:
crusader1081 Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the feedback.

I just need to know where my mistakes in my drawings.
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2015  Professional Filmographer
as for mistakes its mostly the highlight area, actual metal (the shiny/smooth/new ones) need to have thinner highlight, or softer overall surface highlight because of their smoothness. 

Ref: static.giantbomb.com/uploads/o…
If you look at that ref, you will notice how he did highlight is basically as thine as your lineart, if there's anywhere that's really reflecting light strongly, the whole surface shape is bright with sometimes having gradient fade. 
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconmairu-san:
mairu-san Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
THANK YOU ;_; i often not understand where to put the shadows and lightings.. this tutorial helps me a lot~
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2015  Professional Filmographer
glad it helps. :)
Reply
:iconpan-cakuu:
Pan-cakuu Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015  Student Digital Artist
sanic
Reply
:iconmideater:
Mideater Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2014  Student Digital Artist
THANK YOU Q A Q ;; u save my life here!!
Reply
:iconraionjukurou:
raionjukurou Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for great tut
Reply
:iconn-gikko:
N-Gikko Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Student Artist
Thank u, really!
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2014  Professional Filmographer
your welcome. ^^
Reply
:iconwinfiny:
Winfiny Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for doing this nice tutorial ~
It's very helpful Kao Emoji-08 (Kyaa Cute and Shy) [V1] 
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2014  Professional Filmographer
:) ur welcome.
Reply
:iconauroraart:
AuroraArt Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Very helpful. Keep up the great work!
Reply
:iconthinkingwithportals1:
ThinkingWithPortals1 Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Hobbyist Filmographer
I always skip over shading cause I don't know how Now I can experiment :D
Reply
:icondelvallejoel:
delvallejoel Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
That is definitely a most helpful tutorial I have ever seen and read here! :)
Reply
:iconzichee:
Zichee Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013
A very useful guide to me. I will try to experiment this and share it once it's done! =D Thx!
Reply
:iconfokshee:
Fokshee Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2013  Student General Artist
awa this is life saving!! :D thank you!
Reply
:iconnunafish:
Nunafish Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
What method would I use if the light is in front of something, but I'm looking at it from behind?
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Professional Filmographer
thats still same principle as #7, except we are seeing the character's back. 
Reply
:iconnunafish:
Nunafish Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! :3
Reply
:iconaclockworkkitten:
AClockworkKitten Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
You are my hero!
Reply
:iconoceamii:
Oceamii Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It didnt show us so much cell shading though
Reply
:iconprettyhearts1234:
prettyhearts1234 Featured By Owner May 31, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
it's ok
Reply
:iconlorrainer:
lorrainer Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Student Digital Artist
this is very useful :iconrafaawwplz:
Reply
:iconmaroonz80:
Maroonz80 Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Omg I cant tell u how nice it is when I type how to draw shadows it doesnt pop up the hedgehog but your thing comes up haha so appreciated XD
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2013  Professional Filmographer
ur welcome.
Reply
:iconstrictlypencil:
StrictlyPencil Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2013
Wow this is SO helpful!!! Thanks you so much! :)
Reply
:iconkatrina20lin10:
Katrina20Lin10 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
looks great! i'm wondering how this will go down in ms paint. :)
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Professional Filmographer
that's outta be tricky. For free program i suggest you try at least GIMP. :)
Reply
:iconkatrina20lin10:
Katrina20Lin10 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
i have photoshop, but i get confused using it. :(
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Professional Filmographer
tried youtube tutorials yet? o.o maybe search anime and photoshop...
Reply
:iconkatrina20lin10:
Katrina20Lin10 Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
i'll do that...which would you recommend? just asking.
Reply
:iconryukyus1:
ryukyus1 Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012
Wow, Thank very much, really simple, and to the point.
Reply
:iconandroid272:
android272 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Nice tutorial but you should have made the correct/wrong ways to draw the light side by side instead of underneath each other. the way it is now you have to scroll up and down to see the difference between them and see what you are saying is wrong.
Reply
:iconmayshing:
mayshing Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Filmographer
good point. :) I will do that in the future.
Reply
:iconkalikuks:
KaliKuks Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student General Artist
Yay shading Tutorial!
Thank you for posting this :D
Reply
:iconshamwow78:
Shamwow78 Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
ugh...I always have a habit of tracing the lines XD
Reply
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