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Basic 'Soft Shading' Technique

Deleted member 157129

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Deleted member 157129

Due to a request, I'm writing a quick tutorial on shading. This is a very basic technique that works well for soft shading. All you need (beyond the obvious) is a brush tool with adjustable opacity, a colour-picker tool and patience. It is preferable to use a pen tablet, but it is not necessary and the benefits of using one are omitted in this tutorial.

I suggest you try out the technique a few times on an empty palette before you put it to use in your artworks. I like to start off with a 50% grey as a background, but for convenience of this tutorial, the background is transparent in my images.

1. Start off with three basic colours; shadow, mid-tone and light.
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2. Pick up your Brush Tool and set to it a medium opacity (for this tutorial I've used 50% opacity in all the steps). Choose the mid-tone colour and start brushing outside of it, into the shadow and into the light.
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3. Still using the brush tool, pick the newly created colour and proceed to do the same thing with this, brushing into the colour that is one step darker and one step brighter.
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4. The following steps are just iterations of the same technique described in Step 3.
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5. I like to keep the raw look of strokes, so I'll stop here. As a last touch, I like to add a slightly more extreme shadow and a highlight without blending them in as smoothly.
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If you are an avid Smudge Tool user, please try to resist the urge to smudge. I personally think it looks much better if every shade of colour is crisp, so that the amount of shades make the smoothness. The blurry result you achieve with Smudge Tool looks somewhat unrealistic most of the time.

This technique works with any colour scheme. Remember that light is never completely white nor is shadow pitch black. Colours also tend to change hue as they become darker or brighter, look around you, see how objects are shaded. Pick up colour schemes from nature, it will make your artworks much more realistic.

Lastly, here's a quick shape to demonstrate usage of this technique:
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