Drawing and shading metal jewelry


Chances are, you've stumbled upon metal shading tutorials before that tackled the problem in a way that didn't suit your needs. Most of them tend to take a rather realistic/semi-realistic approach that doesn't help much when drawing in a simplified style like manga.

I want to provide an easy solution for that by sharing a simple way in which I normally paint metal elements.

※ I will use rings as an example, but you can apply these techniques to whatever you need, as the provided tips for shading metal are universal

Learning the basics

Core properties of metallic surfaces include:
① high contrast
② reflectivity

① Metal objects will have extreme shadows and bright areas compared the objects with non-reflective surfaces. Depending on the type of lighting, the light-dark ratio will change.

A) soft light - shadows become the main focus
B) strong light - the shine becomes the main focus
C) away from the light - reflections become the main focus

② Metal will reflect colours of the objects close to it

Notice how the same ring appears to be changing colour depending on its surroundings.

Constructing a ring

Let's start by drawing guiding lines for our rings. Try to free-hand them to have some vague idea of how do you want them to look like.

It can be enough for you, but if you want cleaner, precise lines, use the tools that Clip Studio Paint has to offer.

① go to [Figure] sub tool > [Direct draw] > [Ellipse]

② click on the canvas and drag (hold down [Shift] to draw a circle)
③ transform the circle to line it up with the sketch
④ duplicate the layer, repeat the process and merge the two layers together

⑤ duplicate the created layer, scale it up to create volume and line it up again
⑥ draw the sides of the ring
⑦ erase the lines you don't need and make adjustments if needed

Now, even though you can achieve clean lines using this technique, I wouldn't recommend actually using them as your lineart. You can have less control over the shape, unless you know what you're doing and/or are comfortable enough with the technique.

For me, smooth lines are the enemy, so I will draw the new ones on top. This way they will have more character and will look more interesting.

( At the end of the day it all comes down to personal taste! You do you! ☆ )


① select the area around the lines with [Auto select] tool
② go to [Selection area] menu > [Invert selected area]
③ use [Fill] tool to fill in the base colour

④ create a new layer above it and set it to [Multiply] to create a dark shadow. (I used grey for silver and reddish brown for gold)
⑤ use [Clip at Layer Below] option in Layer section to draw only on the created base

⑥ for more contrast around the edges of the shadow, go to [Layer property] section and select the first two options (change [Edge] to [Border of watercolor])
⑦ Play around with [Area] to adjust the strength of the effect

⑧ Repeat the previous steps to create another layer of shadow

※ Try to create shapes with your shadows. Play around, create illusions by following existing lines and extending them. All that will make your shading look more interesting!

⑨ Use a soft brush to lightly erase some parts of the shadow to create depth

Adding shine

While painting metal, remember to put the highlights right next to the shadows. That will make the surface look shiny.

① create a new layer and set it to [Add (Glow)] and use a soft brush to lighten the shadows

use vibrant colours like blue for silver and red for gold

② create another [Add (Glow)] layer and draw bright reflections
③ erase some parts with soft eraser to soften the edges

Use [Normal] layers to play around with parts of the drawing you might be unhappy with

Use [Layer Mask] to erase things, if you don't want to interfere with the colours you previously put down. This way if you don't like it, you can always delete the mask and easily start over.

Details and adjustments

When I'm happy with the results, I proceed with small adjustments like changing colours a bit or adding small details to bring out as much shine as I can.

① Create a new [Add (Glow)] layer and add little particles using the following set


② Use [Overlay] layers to create gradients
This will imitate reflectivity and create depth

③ Add a new [Multiply] layer to adjust colours if needed
④ Click on [Create layer mask] to erase parts that covered the highlights

⑤ To finish off, I like to add sparkles to draw more attention
I used this set:


Since this particular set has borders, I set both the main and sub colour to white because I want to have full control of the border:

⑥ Go to [Layer property] > [Border effect], set the border colour to dark grey and add white sparkles

⑦ To modify colours go to [Layer] > [New correction Layer]
Doing it this way (instead of going to [Edit]) you will be able to choose from variety of options and apply them without interfering with the layers

During this stage I mostly focus on improving contrast using [Color balance] and bringing out other colours with [Pasterization] on low opacity

I also like to add a bit of texture by going to [Filter] menu > [Draw] > [Perlin noise] and setting the layer to [Overlay] mode

And you are done!

Final tips

You can use this technique on both big and small elements. You just need to pay attention to [high contrast] and [reflectivity] of metal objects.

We can simplify the steps down to:
① Putting hard shadows
② Adding gradients
③ Adding strong shine

With very small metal details, focus on high contrast. Start with dark and then add strong shine, even if it's just a single white dot.
And if it's still hard to see or you just want to make it pop - add sparkles!

That's it! Thank you for reading!


Related articles


New Official Articles