Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Adding Shadow To Your Anime Background Art


anime shadow tutorial
This is a quick tutorial on adding shadow to your anime style background art using Photoshop and some tips to make them look better.

Quick Shadow Tutorial

Shadow can be added to artwork in 3 to 4 simple steps:

anime shadow tutorial
Paint the shadow in different layer with a blue or cyan hue color.

anime shadow tutorial
Distort (CTRL-T) the shadow according to the surface of the artwork.

anime shadow tutorial
Change shadow layer to "Multiply" blend mode and adjust opacity level if needed. You can experiment with other blend mode such as "Overlay" too.

anime shadow tutorial
Last, apply a little bit of blur filter on the shadow layer. In my case, I use directional blur (horizontal).

More Info!

Adding shadow to our artwork is straight forward and easy as shown in the steps above. But there are few tips we can always keep in mind.

Painting Shadow In Different Layers

By using layers, we can make adjustments to the shadow easier. Different layers means we can animate them too!

anime shadow tutorial
Beside from using a single layer, we can also organize the shadow in multiple layers under a folder group. By doing so, we change the group blending mode to multiply instead of changing on the individual layers.

anime shadow tutorial


Transforming Shadow Scale According To Artwork Perspective

Sometime it will be easier to use transform tool (CTRL-T) to adjust the shadow to align on the surface of object that receive shadow.

First, duplicate and fill the object which cast shadow with a solid color (The object should be in another layer in the first place). Then, distort it to align with the receiver object surface.

anime shadow tutorial
Pay attention of the depth or height of the receiver's surface. Sometime, you need to do further adjustment if tiny details like this is bothering you.

anime shadow tutorial
Also remember that this method is usually not accurate as you can see in the image below.

anime shadow tutorial
Although this method is not as accurate as we like, but it is still useful to use in case like tree shadows on ground, just like in anime scene!

anime light and shadow


Bluring the Shadow

Soft shadow come from a large light source such as sun light casting shadow on tree leaves. Hard edge shadow come from a smaller light source like a candle.

Sometime, by just applying a simple blur filter, it will add a lot to the artwork.

soft shadow vs hard edge shadow


Colors of Shadow

Instead of just flat blue color, we can use a gradient ramp for the shadow too. From dark blue to light blue, or maybe even shifting its hue value!

shadow color




Adding Shadow On Grass / Irregular Surface

A grass field is not a flat surface like road or wall. Each individual grass strand will affect how the shadow look. After painting and aligning the shadow to the grass field. Use a grass brush to delete and add more grass strand in the shadow layer

shadow on irregular surface




Glowing effect on shadow edge

Sometime we can add glowing effect for the receiver object's surface around the shadow edge. Imagine a hot afternoon with blazing sunlight falling on concrete and road.

glowing effect
Add another layer with "Screen" blending mode. Use a soft edge round brush to paint area which is expose to sunlight.

anime shadow tutorial
That's all and happy painting.

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