Using Shading Assist




Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact. I write weekly posts on and on CSP Tips, so be sure to come back every week to learn more Clip Studio Tips and Tricks from me!


Clip Studio Paint Version 2.0 is out, and with it a whole lot of exciting new features! One of the new features that was heavily advertised is the new Shading Assist function, which blew my mind when I first saw it in the promotional videos. So of course it’s the first feature I wanted to check out when I opened up 2.0 after upgrading.


In this article we will cover the following topics:

What is Shading Assist?

Shading Assist Settings


Let’s get coloring!


What is Shading Assist?

Shading Assist is a new feature that can help add shading or other light effects quickly. I did find with the experiments I did that this is far from perfect, however it usually produces results that just need to be adjusted or added to a bit, so it’s probably a lot faster than doing every bit of shading by hand! I feel like this feature could also be useful for someone just starting out with coloring who doesn’t know how to create different looks such as evening light or colored light as well.


To use Shading Assist, you need to have all the parts you want to affect on one layer. So if you have all your character’s parts separated out by color, you’ll want to combine your layers down or make a merged copy of them before using this feature. In the drawing I'll be using this week, my line art is on one layer and all my flat colors are on a second layer beneath it.


To start the process, click on Edit - Shading Assist in the top menu.

The Shading Assist settings window and the “manipulator” (the blue circle and dot in the following screenshot) will both show. If the Preview checkbox is clicked, you will also see a preview of the current shading assist settings.

In the next section we will cover these settings and how to adjust them!

Shading Assist Settings

To adjust the direction the light is coming from, click on the center of the manipulator - shown in orange below - and then drag it to a new position. The shading preview will update.


The circle around the outside of the manipulator can be dragged to be smaller or larger, which will change the intensity and size of the light source.


The drop down menu under Preset has11 lighting modes. The first is “none” which means that no preset is being applied. Presets are fast ways to achieve a certain mood, such as evening light or even colored light.


The second preset is called “Standard” and is good for most normal lighting conditions.


Below are the remaining nine lighting Presets: Evening, Night, Morning, Simple Light, Faint Backlight, Backlight, Stage light, Color light, and High contrast.


Beneath the preset menu, click on the + button next to Shading to open the shadow options.


The first dropdown switches between Cel shading and Smooth shading. Cel shading produces sharp, hard edges between color transitions.


The Smooth shading option, however, blurs the edges of the shadows and makes the transitions more subtle. However, when using Smooth shading the various options change. I am going to concentrate on the cel shading options for this article, but perhaps I will cover the smooth shading options in another article (since this one is quite long already!)

Let’s switch back to the Cel shading option now. There is a slider control with three controls beneath the dropdown we just went over, so let’s discuss that now. By moving the three controls beneath the slider, the amount of highlight, midtone, and shadow can be adjusted. The control on the left controls how much of the dark area is added, so moving all the controls toward the right makes the shadows larger, as shown below.

But moving the controls toward the left makes the shadows smaller and the lighter areas more prominent.

There are three “levels” of shading in the main area of the shadow controls. Each of these allows control over the color and blending mode of each level. By clicking on the rectangle next to Color, you can set a new color for that level. I want to change the deep shadows to a blue color, which is what I’m doing in the screenshot below.

Click on OK to choose the new color. Notice that now my shadows are a cool blue.

You can do this with all the levels if you want to achieve a wide variety of lighting effects!


Next let’s click the + next to Light Source and look at the options there. The first one is the Light source type, which changes between Ball Light (the default) and Directional light.


In Directional light mode the filled in circle in the center of the manipulator is replaced by an arrow.

Clicking on the arrow and rotating it changes the direction of the light source. This arrow can also be clicked and dragged to change the position of the light source, while the circle outline around the arrow can be dragged to make the source smaller and more intense.

If the circle outline is made larger, however, the light will be more ‘diffused’ and the shadows less prominent, as shown below.

Once you’ve gotten your shadows to the look you want, click on OK to apply the shading assist.


In the Layers palette you will now have several layers generated by Shading Assist.


When using the Cel Shading setting, you may notice upon zooming in to your image that some of the edges are a bit strange looking…

I found this was easily fixed by locating which layer the ragged edge was on and then either erasing the edge to clean it up or going over it with the layer color (set your eyedropper tool to “Obtain layer color” instead of “Obtain display color” to make selecting the color easier in this case) to make the edge smooth.


Here’s my results after just a bit of cleanup and adding some shading in areas that should be shaded, such as under the eyebrows, under the nose, and under the chin.


You can really make the shading pop by adding a few brighter highlights!


This new feature is probably not going to mean that you never have to do any shading ever again. However, it greatly speeds up the process, and that makes a huge difference when creating art on a timeline, such as a webtoon! If I had not been playing with the settings in order to write this article, I probably could have completed the shading on this image in about 10 minutes, making it much faster than my normal coloring process!


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