Hello, I’m Clipped104 aka ClippedTenshi and I’ve been drawing webtoons for 3 years~
This guide will share basic shading techniques I have learnt and find really useful. I will be using scenes from my webcomic, Score on My Heart, as examples for this tutorial.
Please keep in mind that everything I share is my own personal taste or preference, and there's always a different way to do things, or a different style to try. I'm always learning new things through the process of creating webtoons, so keep your mind open to new methods until you find what works best for you.
Let me give you a quick overview of the basics of shading and colour combinations for it.
Knowing the basics can help you to understand shading techniques which will make it easier for you to apply in your art.
LIGHTING ON FACE
Here’s a chart to help you understand the basics of shadows on the face.
In the image, you can see where the light source is and how it lights the face up.
It’s important to note how certain areas are lit up according to the shape of the face.
Here’s a black and white version to show the highlights and shadows clearly, but this is just one example.
It’s better to look up lots of photos and references to further your understanding of how light and shadow work.
SINGLE HUE VS WARM&COLD HUE
Here’s a chart of two colour combination techniques that are frequently referred to when it comes to digital art. I’ve already preselected the colours on the side.
To understand this method, you need to know how the colour wheel works. Around the wheel, the colours are referred to as hues. In the box of the selected hue, each colour is referred to as a value.
[Single hue shading] uses one hue, with different values in that hue, to do the shading.
This combination tends to make your art more sombre.
[Warm & cold shading] uses multiple hues to do the shading, using warmer colours for areas in the light and cooler colours for areas in the shadow. Warm colours are orange, yellow, and red; cold colours are green, blue, and purple.
This combination makes the art more vibrant.
These colour combinations help you understand how colours can be used to create different perspectives or moods in your art. And either of these two methods will work, it's all up to preference.
Setting up your Layers
For this tutorial, the lineart, base colour and background are already done. As you will note, colour coding the layers helps me easily distinguish what each layer holds.
Let’s focus on the layer (blue) that has the base colours for the characters. Create a layer above this layer. Then clip mask it by clicking on the [Clip to Layer Below] icon.
What is happening here is that the base colour layer defines the visible boundaries for layers clipped to it. Which basically means you can’t colour outside the lineart or the already coloured parts of your Base Layer.
Next, in the [Layer] tab, go to layer mode and change [Normal] to [Multiply].
This makes any colour on this layer blend to the layer below, creating the perfect
shadow effect for shading.
Shortcut 1: single-colour shading
Now that you have set up your layers (and understand your basics), we can start with shading. Pick a colour and start shading on the clipped layer to get a see-through effect. Remember to identify where the light hits. This method is handy if you just want to shade with a single colour to save time.
To shade specific spots, I use the [Auto select] tool to select the area so I don’t shade outside it. If the tool is not selecting the areas you want, you can change its settings in the [Tool property] tab.
The option you might want to tweak the most is the [Area scaling] option.
Once you've finished shading, I recommend changing the colour between a warm colour, such as red OR a cold colour, such as blue. Just so you get an idea of how it looks.
To change the colour, first lock the layer by selecting the [lock transparent pixel] icon. Then use either the [Pen] tool to color over it or [Fill] tool to change the colour in one quick action, this tool automatically fills the entire selected layer and can be found on the shortcut bar.
You can see how it looks when you use cold shading on the female, Ash, who is filled with warm colours. And how it looks when using warm shading on the male, Leo, who is filled with cold colours.
Notice the difference when I change it around, warm shading on warm colours and cold shading on cold colours. Both give a different effect. So which one do you prefer?
A quick tip to blend the shading is to adjust the opacity.
Shortcut 2: gradient shading
Another quick shading method is using the [Gradient] tool. This gives shadings a gradation effect..
Select the clipped layer and make sure the layer is locked by clicking on the [Lock transparent pixels] icon.
Next, select the [Gradient] tool and find the [Tool Property] tab.
Click on the drop down box by [where to create] and select [Draw on editing layer].
If you cannot find that option, click on the tool icon and a window will pop up. Select [Ink] and you’ll find the [Where to create] option. Click on the little box to show the eye icon, this allows the option to display on the [Tool Property] tab.
This fills the gradient on the locked layer you’ve selected rather than creating its own layer.
Once you have dragged the [Gradient] tool over the shaded area, it’ll fill the layer with the gradient colour. You can see the slight changes this adds to the overall colour and mood of the scene. Play around with the gradient colour setting and the tool itself to get the results you’re happy with.
Shortcut 3: Light Filters
For this shortcut I will be showing the layer modes I use to create an overall mood for a scene. You should consider the mood you are trying to set when you are using these modes.
And remember with any of these layer modes, you can turn down the opacity to make the filter blend with the background.
I create a layer above the background layer and change it to [Screen] mode. This mode makes colours light and brighter. I generally use it to push areas further into the background to create an atmospheric perspective. Note - Atmospheric perspective is creating the illusion of depth in art.
I also use the [Screen] mode alongside the blur tool to enhance this effect..
Next I create a [Multiply] layer above the [Screen] layer to darken the colours below it, as mentioned in the Basic Fundamentals.
For backgrounds I use this mode to add shadows to where the characters are positioned in their environment.
I will sometimes add shadows around the panel to add some depth to the scene and draw the viewer's attention to the center - The technique is also known as vignette.
COLOUR DODGE MODE
The next mode I use is [Colour dodge]. I add this layer mode above all the other layers in the panel I’m working on. This mode gives the layer a bright and vivid effect and is ideal for adding rays of light.
The colour choice is decided according to the environment and mood I want to set, usually a colour to contrast the overall environment eg. warm/cold colours or complementary colours (colours on the opposite side of the wheel).
Note: I also like to clip mask layers to show that they’re created for the base layer OR that they’re connected - this helps me keep my layers organised.
And here's our end result!
One last colouring tip. My preferred colour style is to avoid shading every panel and instead to save any shading for the more impactful scenes, this helps simplify my process, and makes the more important scenes stand out from the rest of the comic.
Thank you for taking the time to go through this tutorial. I hope you'll find it useful and be able to apply these methods to your own art <3
If you have any questions, you are welcome to comment below~
Find my webtoon and social medias through this link:
You can read Score On My Heart here: