If you have a popular anime series that you like to watch, you may have a favorite character as well. Your character might be unique in terms of design, anime style, and other characteristics. Whether it is digital anime art or pencil drawings, most anime art uses special coloring techniques to enhance the characters. One of these techniques is known as cel-shading.

Cel Shading - The Definitive Guide for Anime Artists

Cel shading is one of the most popular ways to color your anime drawings. It makes use of simple color combinations and a simple technique that helps you create realistic characters. Unlike other forms of coloring, cel shading uses multiple shades of the same color to create a unique effect. While it has initially been used for paper sketching, most good anime drawing software has options for cel shading.

Cel Shading - The Definitive Guide for Anime Artists

Here are some steps that you should follow to master cel shading in anime art:

Draw your outline

Before you can apply cel shading to your anime art, you have to create a basic outline. This sketch is the base for the final character, which is why it should be perfect. If you are a beginner and don’t know how to sketch a complete anime character yet, then don’t worry. You can always practice on ready-made sketches available online. Also, keep in mind that some types of anime characters are more accessible to apply cel shading to than others.

Ink your outline

Once you have created a rough sketch of your anime character, it is time to ink your outline. You can use any pen of your choice in this step. Make sure to create definitive lines that are visible. Bold lines are the best, but it depends on the anime style that you are drawing. Also, keep in mind that the choice of the pen can affect your character as well. Pencil type ink is used if you want to create a hand-sketched impression. Otherwise, you can choose any digital pen you want.

Add the base color

Once you are done with the final sketch, you can start filling in the base colors. Simply select the coloring tool and fill the sketch. You can even create your own color combination, depending on the software that you are using. Adding the base color is vital as it gives you something to reference when doing cel-shading. This step is quite simple and shouldn’t take too long. You can even change the base color with ease if you are drawing digitally.

Add the shading

When creating a shade, you should first create a raster layer. Then you can select a different pen, preferably one with a lighter shade, to add the shadows. It is always best to use an opaque pen for shading because of the uniformity that they have. Once you have determined the correct color, you have to draw the lines for the shading. Unlike pencil sketching, adding shades also involves creating an outline for the shading, enhancing the drawing.

Highlight the shades

Lastly, the key to adding good shading is to do the final touches. Unlike sketching, there is no specific amount of shading that you should add. This depends on the character that you are drawing and the background color.

While it will take time to perfect the cel shading technique, it can transform your anime drawings. So, what is your experience with cel shading? Is it effective? Let us know in the comments below.

Cell Shading
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