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Soft and Cell Shading Guide - PSD File


+ You can download the PSD file as premium content on the right for $1 +

the PSD shows the separated layers of the shading to help you understand how I applied it. You can open it in Photoshop and SAI.

+ click on "download" to see a bigger version of this guide +

A little guide to show the difference between these three shading techniques. I hope it is clear enough. It is not a tutorial, just showing the differences along side the brushes I used.

  • Cell shading is what you see in anime shows. There's little shading on the skin and mostly no mid-tone or highlight. You can still add mid-tones if you want to show more depth to the shading and make it less flat.
  • Cell-soft shading is using the two techniques together. There's hard edges that shows the hard lighting and hard shadow that it creates. And there's soft edges created from soft lighting. This shading is more cell than soft in most anime style.
  • Soft shading is simply painterly and blended edges. And compared to cell shading and soft-cell, it is more 'spread' out. It is closer to realistic painting, though realistic painting also have hard edges.
  • There's a lot of mid-tones in this guide because they are important. They are darker than highlight and base color, and a bit more saturated than the shadow.
This is from my own experience.

This is the first of the coloring tutorials that people asked me to do.

Other tutorials:

other works:
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© 2016 - 2021 Nouraii
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ArtstyleChan's avatar

Hey! Can i use this image to show people the different shading techniques for my poll on Amino? Its for my Manga. Btw you rock! I'll credit you!

sleepinq-beauty's avatar
TYSM!!! very useful!! i really needed help with shading
Aaurapari's avatar
This is really useful!  Though, I wish there was a tutorial on how to do this for MediBang Paint Pro...  (My Paint Tool SAI doesn't register most of my brush strokes.)
Pepsipastelz's avatar
you could use the water color brush. and blend it. make sure the water color brush is on low opacity so that it blends.
Nicooriia's avatar
Been looking for something like this, thanks!
Heart-2-Soul's avatar
I downloaded it but didnt buy it thanks
evelynkim's avatar
:iconaliacatil: this is so helpful!
aliacatil's avatar
Miridith's avatar
Thankies for that tutorial! Is really helpfull ;w; :heart:
Ocetee's avatar
Really helpful :D
Mayleth's avatar
Sooo helpful!! Great tutorial!
SashaStub's avatar
I'll try this some time when I draw something where I want to make cell-shading :)
Great tutorial!
NyanPaten's avatar
thank you for this i always need it 
Sairento-chan's avatar
This is perfect, thank you so much!
Saltantan's avatar
Just asking, did you use Fringe effect on the cell shade?
Nouraii's avatar
No, just used a darker color and added a line here and there.
White-Lapen's avatar
Thanks for showing the difference!
Nouraii's avatar
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