In the past I’ve always tried to do quick shading by drawing black shapes on a separate transparent layer, and then setting the opacity to 30-40%. But that ends up with this washed out drab shadow instead of a darker version of the same color. Well, I’ve figured out a better way, that’s just as easy and I thought I’d share. Follow me…
First, draw your lines. I’ll accomplish the shading using the Gimp, but this doodle was actually drawn first in MyPaint. Either way, when your done, you should have a solid white background layer, and a transparent layer with all your lines.
On a new transparent layer between your lines and your background, paint in all your flats (solid colors).
One more transparent layer, this time between your colors and your lines, and we’re almost done. On this layer, paint in all the areas where you want there to be shading or a shadow. For this example I painted with red to make it obvious, and you’ll see in the next step that it honestly doesn’t matter what color you use.
Alright, you ready? We’re going to use a layer mask, which I only know how to do in Gimp. You can do the same in Photoshop and other graphics programs, it just costs a lot more.
First, right-click on the layer where you painted the shading areas in the layers dialogue and choose “Add Layer Mask.” Then in the “initialize” dialogue box that comes up, select “Transfer layer’s alpha channel.” So, this will basically make a mask that will now only show things on this layer in the parts that weren’t transparent when you made the mask (should be the shapes you painted).
Now comes the trickiest part. You’ll notice in the layers dialogue, when you added the mask it put a black and white image next to the thumbnail of your layer. Before you do anything else click on the shading layers thumbnail and make sure it’s selected and not that mask right next to it.
Here’s the magic… With the thumbnail selected hit the Delete key on your keyboard, or Edit -> Clear to get rid of you original shading areas. Now click the layer below with your colors and copy it. Click again back on the now empty thumbnail of your shading layer and paste the contents of your colors layer. Through all of this it’s likely not looked like much has actually changed, but one more step will fix that.
The last thing we want to do is to change the shading layers mode to “Multiply.” Did it work? Should have. You can futz around with the opacity to get the effect you want or duplicate this shading layer to make it even darker.
Long story short, putting the exact same color in the shading layer, then masking it to only show up in specific areas, and then setting the layer mode to multiply, you’ve made shadows that will be true to the color they are laying on top of. Much better then drab old gray schmutz!
I’ve thought of a couple other fun ways to use this, but that’s for another post. Hope I didn’t lose anyone (not that more then 5-6 people read this blog). Happy doodling!