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Soft Light

By Shinerai


Title from another episode of The X-Files. A while ago, Syvaender did a batch of sketch commissions to raise funds so she could renew her sub - guess who got one? I've been really motivated to color my friends' sketches and lineart lately, so I couldn't pass this one up.

This time, I wanted to try a more painterly style. I wanted to practice not being so darn slow, and I wanted to try some new techniques. Overall, I think it was successful. I tried to not hyper-detail it, used some new brushes, and finished it within a reasonable time. I'm pleased with it, and I hope you enjoy it.

As always, it's a bit larger under the download.


Photoshop CS3

Original Dimensions
2000 x 1100 pixels

Time Spent.
~6 hours (color)


Colors, Pai'Te © :iconshinerai: my face!
Original sketch © :iconsyvaender: Sub commishs - All Batches
Nagendra © :iconashascadence:
Image details
Image size
1400x762px 1.67 MB
© 2018 - 2021 Shinerai
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Dragoleni's avatar

This has been my desktop wallpaper since 2018 and I still love looking at it every day :D Thank you for making this drawing!

Shinerai's avatar

Wow that's such a huge compliment. Thank you so much for that feedback - I'm really pleased you enjoy this work so much c: Of course huge shoutout also to @Syvaender for the lineart.

Gryphonia's avatar
:wave: Hi! :)
:aww: Nice picture! :D :clap:
:iconeufrosis: I like it! :blowkiss: :iconpurpleheartplz: 

Shinerai's avatar
Hello, thank you! I had a great sketch to work with cx
Gryphonia's avatar
By the way, I wanted to ask. What sorts of sketches do you look for in colouring. I admit your skills make me hopelessly envious to suggest some dragons of mine. I did hundreds - not all of them are even posted - of dragon sketches through the years. Maybe I could tempt you with something too? ;)
Shinerai's avatar
Well, to be honest, I am usually only interested in coloring my own characters (I commissioned this sketch). Otherwise, I'm more likely to color my friend's sketches than a stranger's. No hard feelings c:
N3rdy-B1rdy's avatar
Oh my wow, I am in love with the way you do scales. All the details in your works are soooo stunning! This looks awesome!
Shinerai's avatar
Thank you so much! Scales are one of my favorite things to do c:
N3rdy-B1rdy's avatar
You're so very welcome! :D <333
aboveClouds's avatar
Oh wow, your styles really came together wonderfully. Love the smooth gradients on the horns.
Shinerai's avatar
Thank you! I did find it especially easy to color Tokin's sketch. I think something about her style just vibes with me haha cx
Ember-Eyes's avatar
The shading is so soft and beautiful! The colors are so soft and beautiful! Howwww??? I only ever manage to make my colored things look psychedelic and loud with chunky shading. :XD: I really need to sit myself down and learn some things about shading and lighting and color choices, I guess. :D I just much prefer drawing and sketching. :P
The textures here are lovely, too~ And the background gradient compliments the character's colors nicely.
Shinerai's avatar
Ah, thank you for the compliments! I'm completely on the same page with you about drawing and sketching xD Coloring something is such a huge undertaking and often times when it doesn't go well, you don't notice until you've already put a lot of time into it, and then it's really disappointing!

As for colors, I have been trying to use more natural palettes lately. I find that if you pick a more subdued color, you can still make it pop by using really saturated midtones! So like with blue you might have a light slate base color, with bright blue minor shadows, and desaturated dark shadows. I don't know if this is good design choice, but it's what I've been doing most recently, haha.
Ember-Eyes's avatar
You're welcome! Isn't that the truth though? And when one isn't much of a colorist anyway (like me! XD), it seems all the more intimidating and overwhelming. I can sometimes envision nice, colored images in my head, but I lack the skills and knowledge to actually pull it off. :dummy: Doesn't keep me from trying, though, haha. I just don't share the attempts with anyone. :XD:

Ahh thanks so much for the tips / advice! It sounds like something interesting to experiment with. I'll have to take a stab at it~ And hey, if it looks good, it's a good design choice (in my book). ;)
Shinerai's avatar
Haha, don't I know that feeling xD
And you're welcome! I hope it works for you too c:
LamLArts's avatar
Oh my god Shin! Looking at this makes me itching to draw and especially practice color and light! It looks so soft and just, stunning! 
Did you use a filter/texture for the bg or is that with brushes? And if ifs a texture, did you have it overlap the whole image to also give that lovely textured feel to Pai'Te or is that from the brush you used when coloring her? It looks so fantastic! 
Shinerai's avatar
Thank you! ♥ Most of the background textures were done using various brushes, but there is a texture overlay on the entire image as well. It's a photo I took of some interesting ice!
Leundra's avatar
I really love our smooth colouration. :3
The scales look so amazing.
Shinerai's avatar
Thank you very much!
Roxirin's avatar
Simply gorgeous! <3 I must ask, how on earth did you get the shading to be so smooth in photoshop?
Shinerai's avatar
Thank you! I know it seems dumb, but I'm using the soft airbrush/ I used to avoid it because it would just make my shading look lumpy. What I used it for this time is to get a good gradient. for example, I used it on the base of the neck to get the soft shadow, and then erased the bottom part to get the sharp edge.
Roxirin's avatar
Ah, thank you for the info! That's really helpful :)
astarphel's avatar
this bodes well for your 20 panel comic that hopefully won't take 100 hours per frame
OKAY jokes aside this is gorgeous, you're a master of subtle shadows that dictate structure, I honestly have no idea how define scales so cleanly o v o I will learn someday
plus the reflections in the eye and metal rings are just <33 
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