Adding an outline
I’ll add an outline to the character so that he stands out from the background as the most important element of this illustration.
However, the character won’t look like part of the scene if the outline is too strong, so I’ll just slightly emphasize the silhouette. Sometimes you can make a character stand out only with light and dark contrast, so I don’t always add an outline depending on the background.
To make the outline, I’ll move a fill layer slightly larger that the character’s silhouette to underneath the character.
■ How to add an outline
(1) While selecting the “character” folder in the [Layer] palette, select the character’s layer mask by going to the [Layer] menu > [Selection from Layer] > [Create Selection].
(2) Extend the selection area by around 0.05 mm by going to the [Selection] menu > [Expand selected area].
(3) Make a new layer set to [Multiply], and in the [Layer] menu > [Layer Mask] > [Mask Outside Selection], create a layer mask.
(4) Fill the layer with a deep blue-green color.
 Finishing Touches
I create a layer folder for adjustments and place it above the folder containing the character painting layers.
Note: So that the blending modes affect layers outside of the “adjustments” folder, the layer folder’s blending mode is set to [Through].
① Final painting stage, ② Extra details, ③ Correction layer: Tone Curve, ④ Tree shadow (Multiply)
⑤ Outline of tree shadow (Multiply), ⑥ Soft light gradient, ⑦ Extra details to suit the background
② Extra details:
I paint directly with the [Darker pencil] sub tool at an density of around 70 to 90% to adjust some shapes or add small details.
③ Correction layer: Tone Curve:
I go to the [Layer] menu > [New Correction Layer] > [Tone Curve] and adjust the tone curve.
I like a lot of varying contrast, so I slightly increase the curve in the upper right and reduce it in the lower left.
④ Tree shadow (Multiply):
I add the effect of the tree shadow.
I paint roughly with a pencil tool and then erase some parts with the [Eraser] tool > [Soft] sub tool.
⑤ Outline of tree shadow (Multiply):
I use a layer set to [Glow dodge] to brighten the areas of the “tree shadow (Multiply)” layer around where the light hits.
I paint lightly with the [Airbrush] tool.
I match the brighter color with the base color. In this case the jacket is blue, so I paint the effect in a blue tone.
⑥ Soft light gradient:
I felt that the darkness of the color was too flat, so I applied a gradient from the lower left to the upper right and set the blending mode to [Soft light].
⑦ Extra details to suit the background
I draw directly with the [Darker pencil] tool at 70% to 90% density to slightly blend the outline with the background and add extra strands of hair.
I try to make the shading on the character match the background as much as possible.
So that the character doesn’t get lost in the background, I brighten the parts near the edge if the background is very dark, and darken them where the background is bright.
Example: The steps in the background are bright, so I used dark colors for the character’s lower body. I added strong light in the top right to add variation.
Now I’ve finished painting the character.
Next I’ll show you how I painted the background.