Author Topic: Cell Shading in Photoshop  (Read 852 times)

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Offline Yip

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Cell Shading in Photoshop
« on: September 25, 2005, 06:10:52 pm »
Cell Shading in Photoshop:

This is a technique that I found that makes doing cell shading in photoshop easier (I'm not sure if it can be applied to other programs or not.)

Before I would color on separate layers, but the problem is all too often I'd accidentally, say, put white on my orange fur layer. The problem being that I'd switch colors but forget to switch layers, or I'd undo the first thing I did on a layer which makes PS go back to the layer it was on before (I tend to use "step back" instead of the simple undo, since that way you can undo repeatedly instead of just once.)

The way I found to solve that problem makes heavy use of layer masks, so I should probably start with a quick lesson on that for those that haven't used them much.

A layer mask is basically an alpha channel that is specific to that layer. That is, it's a gray-scale image that is used to determine the transparency of the layer.  Black on the layer mask makes the corresponding portion of the layer completely transparent. While white makes it completely opaque.  For normal use, this lets you effectively erase portions of the layer without actually erasing them. Thus you can easily get it back if you made a mistake.

But for this technique I use them slightly different.  I fill the entire layer with a color of choice, then give it a layer mask filled with black. I can then, using a white brush, paint the color in where I want it. (Tip: the X key toggles foreground and background colors)  The advantage of doing this is that I can easily switch from one layer to another, and effectively change my working color by doing so. This way I don't paint colors on layers they don't belong. It enforce this further, "Lock image pixels" on the layer. That way it'll still let you draw on the mask, but not the layer itself.

Then for shading, I add a sub-layer to that layer, fill it with...  what? You don't know how to make a sub-layer?  It's simple, and very powerful. First place the new layer just above the other, then hold 'alt' and click between them. (the cursor will change to some funky link symbol that somewhat resembles a bucket)  This will make the new layer, what I call the sub-layer, only able to effect the one it's linked to. (this is also a great way to use adjustment layers)

Now, as I was saying, fill the sub-layer with 50% gray (that is gray thats exactly halfway between white and black) and set it's mode to "overlay". Then use the burn and dodge tools or a brush with shades of gray to add the highlight and shading.

For those that don't know, "overlay" mode works like a combination of both "multiply" and "screen". That is, 50% gray will have no effect but darker than that will make the image below darker and lighter than that will make it lighter.

Another tip: remember color's complement can be used to desaturated a color. For example, adding a gray thats slightly bluish can make the brown on the layer below less saturated.

One more thing, since in using this technique you can end up with a lot of layers, don't forget about grouping layers into sets. (the folder icon on the bottom of the 'Layers' palette)