What is Shadow Color?

anime tree tutorial
While I was researching about landscape painting in anime style, I noticed that most good paintings used a hue of blue/cyan/purple for shadow. At first, I thought it was just an art decision to use a more saturated colours in painting. But as I spend more time observing shadow colors in real life, I realized there are colours in shadow too.

shadow color
Photo by blendernpr.org

But why we always thought shadow are black or gray? I assume this is because we tend to spend more time indoor nowaday where the shadow didnt receive enough sky light (ambient). Beside that, cloudy/haze/fog day which block of most of the sky light also cause grey colour soft shadow.

Sky Colour

Black shadow usually lit by the sky ambient color which is blue. Look at photos I took below to see the different shades of blue.

shadow color
In a clear blue sky outdoor environment, shadow are usually blue. #42556E

shadow color
In a blue evening, tree shadow which cast by street light is still blue. #222644

shadow color
6PM, notice how the darkest shadow on the left still have slightly more blue in them. So, use darker blue instead of black in painting. #3F4857 #0E0F3

shadow color
11AM, the fog glow/glare from the floor on the left bleed into the shadow resulting a brighter shadow colour. #304660

Object Colour

Shadow colour are affect by the object's surface (material) colour too.

shadow color
Look at the above photo. The shadow on the path at left have more warm colours in them, while the shadow on the road have more blue. This is because of the object surface colour.

shadow color
10AM, look at the shadow of the leaves behind, they are still mainly green. #577B92

shadow color
11AM, the grass shadow colour are grass midtone colour multiply with shadow colour. #3B4B65

Painting Anime Shadow

One quick way to paint shadow is to seperate the shadow into different layer and use "multiply" blend mode. By using this method, we dont have to worry about what is the shadow color.

painting the shadow


Some of my artwork which feature light and shadow.

light and shadow light and shadow tree shadow


If we seperate the shadow in different layer. We can animate them easily too.


Deviantart Light and Shadow
Deviantart Doge
Deviantart Tree Shadow
Vimeo Tree Shadow
Youtube Tree Shadow


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