Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

How do you become a better shader
Lexilenia at 6:19PM, Oct. 30, 2010
posts: 1
joined: 9-10-2010
Do you just shade boxes and spheres everyday? How do you shade things like clothing or hair?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:34PM
kyupol at 4:04PM, Nov. 4, 2010
posts: 3,714
joined: 1-12-2006
Note: trying my best to explain this. Sorry for the poor explanation.

Anyway, when you shade, always remember your light source and the shape of the object being shaded. Before going into shading, you must first understand this concept of breaking down the object into 3-D shapes. That is one thing you must train your mind on. Everything you see, attempt to translate it into a 3-D shape. Like a cube, cone, sphere, cylinder, etc.

For clothing, always pay attention to areas where things will fold such us under the armpits, in the elbows, behind the knees, etc. Thats all I know as far as theory goes.

If you are a beginner artist, the best way to learn is to first trace other drawings (I suggest start tracing simply-drawn art first because you might “get lost”).

Sorry if you disagree with that and say that you must first learn life drawing. Based on experience, I learned to draw from life first (took a 10 day crash course… on day 1, the model is there in front and you draw that right away) but I always ended up with messed up proportions as the following skills were still in their infancy:
1) hand-eye coordination
2) translating 3-D objects into a 2-D piece of paper were still being developed.

Life drawing IMO is NECESSARY in artistic development because that develops the skill of drawing what you see and translating things like lights, shadows, etc.

However, drawing from life right away is not advisable (in my OPINION) for the beginner artist.

Back when my skill level in art was this bad, I learned more when I traced and copied drawn pictures.

Again, this is just my opinion based on personal experience and make of that what you will.

Hope this helps.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
ShadowsMyst at 2:15PM, Nov. 9, 2010
posts: 218
joined: 1-9-2006
Bottom line? Observation and practice.

Shading, or the creation of light and shadow in an artwork is about understanding where light ‘hits’ and where it doesn't. Its pretty much that simple, at least, in the beginning. Nuances about the quality, color and quantity of light can come later once you've got the basics.

I found personally it was helpful to start practicing by using high contrast, black and white. Pure black and pure white. No shades of gray to be confusing. And then I always imagined the light as ping pong balls. Wherever the ping pong balls would strike were white, wherever they couldn't, logically due to the shape

Get a flash light and an simple object, like a pop bottle or mug. Shine the flashlight at it. The flashlight is your ‘light source’. In all shading the light source is all important. Starting with a strong directional light source like the flashlight is easiest because there is a really strong shadow. Observe the bottle or mug. Look at where the light strikes, vs where it doesn't. Try it with your face in a mirror at different angles. Watch how the the shadows change when you move the light source.

Then draw the shadows as you see them. Don't worry about the quality, just draw and put in where there is shadow. Light will come from putting in shadow. The stronger the shadows, the stronger the light will seem. Do this in black and white to start, then work your way to using pencils or gray markers.

There are some great books for learning light and shadow as well, such as Dynamic Light and Shade which provide really good reference and theory. You can use those types of books as references and exercises to aid you while you learn. I found them invaluable and still reference that one above particularly for difficult lighting conditions, like defused lighting on a cloudy day.

I also found studying traditional inking, since it revolves around black and white and shadows was a huge help in learning to break down images into light and dark areas, and paying attention to light sources and how to actually give a sense of shadow without necessarily using large black areas. I used “The art of comic book inking” as one of my references as well as reading “The DC Guide to Comic Inking”

I tend to prefer hard shadows and highlights, which gives most of my work a very cartoonish/cell shaded look. You may find you prefer more detail, defused shadings. Its very personal, but the main thing is to understand and be aware of light source, and how strongly it affects the objects in your drawings.

I have a webcomic making blog! Check it out.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:32PM
Darth Mongoose at 12:12PM, Nov. 13, 2010
posts: 488
joined: 1-7-2006
Shading can be tricky at first. I'd recommend a combination of looking at real life objects (it doesn't have to just be cubes and spheres, have some fun! Look at how light lands on complex things like a scrumpled up towel or a person's face), and looking at how artists portray it. Most comics are drawn in a simplified, stylised way to make them easier and faster to draw and read. In a comic like mine,for instance, I use what's called ‘cel shading’ where all the shadows are of the same level of intensity and are painted in in blocks in photoshop on a semi-transparent layer. I simplify the shadow down to clean blocks and use more of it on characters than the backgrounds generally. Some people though, prefer to do pure black areas for shadow, popular in American superhero comics. I'd agree with ShadowMyst, this is an excellent way to practice, and it looks very striking too! Other people like hatching or soft shading, which are good for giving a sense of different intensities of shadow.
Light in art may not behave exactly how real light would behave. Sometimes a little artistic licence, exaggeration or stylisation is perfectly reasonable to make the image more exciting. Just go with what feels right and you think looks good. Keep practising! That's the number one thing!

Little handy tip:
When I'm having trouble imagining and keeping track of the direction of light in an image, one tactic I might use is to draw little arrows on my image which I can rub out later, representing the direction of the light.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:08PM
Thorgalkun at 8:25AM, Dec. 4, 2010
posts: 12
joined: 11-7-2009
Id like to bring this topic back since I have a question related.

If I use Photoshop what would be the best tool for shading? So far im using the regular tool, I recently jumped from Paper/Pencil to Computer drawing and im not too sure how Photoshop works.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:29PM
Genejoke at 9:25AM, Dec. 4, 2010
posts: 3,468
joined: 4-9-2010
Practice with different tools and techniques and find your own way.

layers can be very useful too. there are loads of tutorials online that can help with photoshop, just make sure the tutorial is relevant to the version you have, one for cs5 may be confusing if you are using photoshop 7.0 or something. there is a massive thread with lots of links to useful stuff right here

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:33PM
Thorgalkun at 8:23PM, Dec. 4, 2010
posts: 12
joined: 11-7-2009
Thanks il dig in it when I got time ;)
I use PS 7 since its a legit copy and im not ready to pay for CS5 since it cost more than 300-500$ at my computer store.

Now to try coloring, I might try some artwork instead of full comic yet.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:29PM
Kanothae at 4:42AM, Dec. 6, 2010
posts: 4
joined: 11-22-2010
If you want a bit of theory I can recommend Joseph D'Amelio's “Perspective Drawing Handbook”. The last chapter is devoted to light and shadow (you might wanna read the rest of the book, too). Most informative piece on the subject I've read.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:13PM

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