How to draw magic effects


Sometimes, we just lack that little but no less important detail that will make our drawings look like a fantastic story full of boundless magic. That is why if this presents a little challenge for you, then there is no need to worry. On this occasion, I will share the method that I use to ensure that magic is never lacking in your illustrations! (We will use tools that come by default in the software so don't worry about downloading or customizing brushes).

Video tutorial

The bases

For me, magic is attributed in illustration to everything that is described as abstract, bright, withering, unpredictable and colorful. When we want magic in an image we probably think of sparkles, which in fact is not bad at all; but since we are not talking about a specific magic we will have to generalize this idea and expand it to everything that makes our drawing seem to be from another world.

Here below I will explain how I project, with this concept in mind, the magical effects in my illustrations where there are spells, powers and a lot of brightness.


The type of effect that I use most commonly is what I call '' energy ''; it is, by default, the figurative description of magical characteristics. As we can see, it is an asymmetric, reflective and mobile shape, but what do we need to be able to do something like this? Well, it is very simple, in less than 5 steps we can create these figures and once we have understood it you will see that you can use this method to do whatever your imagination allows you to create (shapes, waves, lights, auras and more).

Before starting...

We must not confuse the magic effect as just an object, although it can be something very simple, it involves a process that requires us to deconstruct its composition in different parts, so for this occasion each step we do we will create a new layer, remember that organization is the virtue of a professional.

Here I have made a folder where I ordered the layers that make up my effect and I have given them an easy to identify name, this is to your liking.

The Flash - Step One

Here it all begins, the brightest part of the energy. We can do whatever we can think of, even if they are random shapes, yes, I would recommend doing it with the lightest color possible, since this will be the brightest part of the effect. For this drawing I have used the G-pen that comes by default in the "PEN" section in the left sidebar.

I will draw an electric atomic style shape

It is time to give a special effect of destruction to the energy defining the shape, so now we will choose the "Eraser" tool and select the "Hard" setting.

And with the same circular shape of the eraser we will proceed to eliminate segments of the drawing that we previously made, as if it were cheddar cheese.

Secondary flashes - Second step

We will do the same as we have done previously, but continuing the figure we have done with a more subdued color / brightness. This simulates the transparency of the sparkles that come out of our energy.

So we will choose our tool '' G-pen '' again and in my case, a yellow-orange color and we continue drawing lines.

And that will be all for the second step, we're going at a good pace, don't you think?

Brightness or blur - Third step

Now we will see the most important tool of the whole process. that is undoubtedly essential for any type of magical effect that we want to do. I would dare to say that only by using it we could achieve magic, but what we try to do is give it more depth and shine so it will be one more tool for the final product.

I'm talking about nothing more, and nothing less than the '' Airbrush '' tool as it reads in the software. More specifically the '' Soft '' that will give us a reflective effect of the light, giving more credibility and enhancement to our lights.

As always, I will make a new layer. I will choose the color of my energy which will be red and I will begin to define the edges of the sparkles with my Airbrush ...

… And we will make it look something like this. It already seems like a spell, but it still needs to be defined.

Particles - Step Four

The best part of the process, the particles are necessary as long as we want to give an effect of movement and an extra-magic to our energies. The way to do them is very simple, as usual we will take the G-pen, select the lighter tones and begin to draw them in the direction from our effect.

(I have also chosen to add small particles with the Airbrush to give them depth).

That's all! We are done, but this is just the beginning ...
The effects go beyond spells, they are also elements that accompany the other components of our illustration to give them a more incredible touch.

As a first example, I have given the character's sword this glow, also in warm tones, since it refers to a magma sword and this enhancement gives it credibility.

Don't limit yourself!

Do now what you imagine or even what you do not imagine. Everything is in practice and experimentation.
In my case, here I try to make a piece of ice using the previous steps, skipping only the eraser part.

The only limit that exists is your imagination and don't be afraid to use references to give your effects more and more realism ...

Did I miss something?

Magic is brilliant and therefore works as an instrument of light, so everything that surrounds it must be affected by its reflection, as seen on the edges of my character, these are the bases of lighting which I will discuss in another tutorial on light and shadows :)

Thanks for staying until the end! Now to have fun and enjoy learning.

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