5. Making the Rough Draft (3): Adding Light & Shadow



I will add light and shadow to the flat colors to create a three-dimensional effect and express depth.

To add the light and shadows, I will clip to the base color layers I painted in the previous part.


[1] Shading the skin

I will add some shading to the character’s face.

First, I create a new layer above the “Character 1” folder > “Skin” layer.

I turn on [Clip at layer below], and then change the layer name to “Skin shading”.

I create a color darker than the base color from the color palette, and paint sharp cel shading.

In this case I’m using a warm color palette, so I paint the shadows in a warm red-toned purple.


Using a blue or purple color for the shadows creates a more interesting effect than simply painting with a darker shade of the base color.

I’ll add some extra nuance to the shading. While selecting the “Skin shading” layer, I turn on [Lock Transparent Pixel].

On the [Color slider] palette, I choose a value about halfway between the base and shading color to create a more reddish color.

Then, I select the “Dense watercolor 2” brush and add a gradient on the parts where the light hits, such as the chin and nose.

[2] Adding color to each part of the face

Next I’ll add a little makeup to the face.

I select the “Skin” layer and click [New Raster Layer].

This automatically creates a layer clipped to the “Skin” layer. I rename the layer to “Face parts”.

I use my “Dense watercolor 2” brush with an opacity of 40 to add a red blush to the cheeks, nose, chin, and lips.

Then I use the “Darker pencil 2” brush with an opacity of 100 to paint the whites of the eyes.

I create a new layer above the “Skin shading” layer and turn on [Clip at Layer Below].

I rename the layer to “Eye”. Then, I continue painting the eye with the “Darker pencil 2”.

The size and position of the pupil affects the direction that the character is looking.

A larger pupil creates a cute and more human-like impression, but I decided to draw a narrow pupil because of the animal theme.


This section explains the the different effects created by the size and placement of the pupil.

・ Large pupils

These create a gentle impression. I usually draw eyes like this for human-like characters.

・ Small or thin pupils

These create a slightly scary impression. I usually draw eyes like this for animals, scary eyes, or mysterious characters.

I add some highlights.

Then, I create a new layer at the top of the “Character 1” folder and change the layer name to “Highlights”.

The parts where the light hits are the brightest parts, so having too many will create a messy effect. Instead, it’s best to use highlights as an accent.

I add highlights to the eye, top of the nose, and on the lips to finish painting the face.

[3] Adding shadows

I will continue to add shadows the other parts using the same method.

Adding more than three colors to one element makes the colors look messy, so I use only a base color" and shadow color, sometimes adding one more color for extra nuance.

I also think about the direction of the light as I paint the shadows and light. However, in this case, using the correct shadows would hide the characters, so I add fake light and shadow to make the illustration look brighter.

I tend to zoom in while painting, but the impression you get when looking at the entire canvas can change a lot. Therefore, I repeatedly paint and then zoom out to see the entire canvas.

It is important to always look at the overall balance of the work.

It’s fine if colors go out of the lines at the rough stage, because I can edit it later on, so I tend to paint the base colors while looking at the entire canvas.

To make the scene more mysterious, I add a bit of glittering light.

I create a new layer at the top of the "Illustration" folder, rename the layer to “Lights", and draw glittering light with the “Darker pencil 2" (brush size: approx.20; opacity: 100).

Since the light shines from the back, I add shadows below the characters.

I create a new layer below the “Character 2” folder and name it “Shadows”. Then, I set the blending mode to [Multiply], lower the opacity to 54%, and paint the shadows in a dark brown color.

I’m not satisfied with the three-dimensional feeling using only the shadows, so I add a little more shadow to the entire canvas.

I create a new layer below the “Lights” layer and name it “Shadows 2”. I set the blending mode to [Multiply] and lower the opacity to 77%.

Then, I fill the entire screen with the same color as the shadow of the previous character using the [Fill Tool] (check off multiple references).

I create a layer mask on the “Shadows 2” layer and hide the center part using an eraser. I leave it so that the shadows remain in the four corners.

Now I’ve completed the rough draft.

Since the entire screen looks dark due to the shadows, I will decide later on whether to leave the shadows.



New Official Articles