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mayshing's avatar

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...!
© 2012 - 2021 mayshing
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DexinProgress's avatar
This was super helpful~! Thanks so much for making it ^_^
o0-Jynxus-0o's avatar
Do you think you could possibly help me? Idk how to shade at all.
mayshing's avatar
I can give you some tips on how to train for it, the ability to shade has to do with still life, a traditional foundation. 
Once you know how shadows and light behave on different surfaces, shapes, and angles, you can apply it easily to your art. I suggest take a couple of eggs, white mugs, and fabric, lay them down in an interesting way, set up a lamp and start to see where the light/shadow falls on them and draw it. Best wishes! 
o0-Jynxus-0o's avatar
Oh! Ty so much! ^-^
Also, Idk if you do pixel art but, pixel shading??
mayshing's avatar
I don't do pixel art atm, but the foundaton on pixel art is the same, you can get the basic from the still life.

In pixel art what's more complicated is that your sense of color vs the value (light to dark) of the color need to be memorized to be efficient. You can get that knowledge from traditional painting.

You can train for that after doing still life in black and white, then do it in color.
FYI, still life is not a one time thing, start with eggs/mugs and fabric,
but u should train until u can memorize how shadows typically fall on  
any items u will see on people, and environment. It will take a while but its worth it. 
o0-Jynxus-0o's avatar
Oh my ty so much! I'll start that tomorrow (since it's like 11:00 here) !! Ty!
mayshing's avatar
np best wishes. :)
mayshing's avatar
let me know how it goes! ^^
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RocknSweets's avatar
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…
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?
mayshing's avatar
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? 
RocknSweets's avatar
Oh sort of like in this…
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? 
Mathi-das-M's avatar
I'm always struggling with getting the shading right so this is really helpful! Thank you for that! :)
regitsammo's avatar
thetimidgamer's avatar
This is extremely helpful
Fires-storm's avatar
Incredibly useful, thank you!
crusader1081's avatar
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:…
mayshing's avatar
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:
crusader1081's avatar
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.
mayshing's avatar
i will think about doing a mech cell shade tutorial. :)
In the mean while... just understanding light and shadow is a good start. 
crusader1081's avatar
Anyway, thank you very much :aww:

Did you see the link I just put up? Is there any more improvements?
mayshing's avatar
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.
crusader1081's avatar
Thanks for the feedback.

I just need to know where my mistakes in my drawings.
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