Photoshop – Simple methods for painting light and shadow

Photoshop – Simple methods for painting light and shadow


– Hi everybody, Aaron
Blaise here, and welcome to another episode of Aaron’s Art Tips. Alright, so today I
want to take you through a little process that I
have in doing my digital drawing and painting in Photoshop. I want take you through
kind of some shortcuts that I use in lighting my characters, creating light and shadow. There are some things
that you can do digitally that you can’t do traditionally, and I wanna show you some of my tricks. They’re very simple. But anyway, let’s just jump right to it. Here you can see that I’ve
done a very quick sketch, as a lot of you know, I like
to draw and paint animals, and so I did this quick
drawing of a leopard. And so here’s the sketch and
what I’ve gone ahead and done ahead of time, is I’ve gone
ahead and I’ve painted in the local color without the spots. And I wanna show you the
spots in a little bit. Local color is the color of an object when it’s not lit and it’s not in shadow. It’s just the actual color of the object. Because what we’re gonna do,
we’re gonna add the shadows and the light colors over the
top of what’s created here. But we’re gonna use what’s there. See, in traditional painting and drawing, when you wanna create something light, you gotta paint light
value and you wanna create something dark you gotta
create and paint dark value. What’s cool about this
technique is that I can lay in the local color and
then I can use a couple of blend modes, and
create the light and dark, the shadow and light. So, I’m gonna start with the shadow, and I’ll show you what I mean. So right now you can see
we’ve got this character, and it’s just a local color, like I said, done very quickly, but I’m gonna create a layer on top, right here,
and I’ve got one right here, it’s called layer number 5. Look over to the right. And what I’m gonna do
is I’m gonna go ahead and set that layer on the
blend mode rather than normal, I’m gonna come down to Multiply. Now what does Multiply do? Well, Multiply takes the
layer, the pigment or color that I’m gonna be painting
on top, and it multiplies it with the colors underneath. So, I’m gonna pick a shadow color, and I’m gonna start painting over the top. What that’s gonna do
is it’s gonna multiply with the local color underneath. Let me show you what I mean. I’m gonna come over here, and
I’m gonna grab a cool neutral, I’m in the gray area and
slightly or maybe a little higher than midtone, okay? So right in this area, and hit Okay. Now I’m gonna grab one of
my brushes, I like to make my own brushes and this
is one that is very chalky and pastel-y, I like the way it feels. But I’m gonna go ahead and grab this, and I’m just gonna go
ahead and start laying in where I think the shadows should go. I’m gonna imagine light
coming in from the upper, coming in from this direction, and maybe a little bit behind. So, I’m just gonna go
ahead, I’m gonna drop that opacity down a little
bit, ‘cuz I want some, I wanna be able to play with the subtlety. Alright? So I may need to bring the
size down a little bit. And once again, here we go. I’m just gonna lay it
in very, very quickly. I want to take that edge off, the neck is gonna be casting a shadow. Now look what’s happening. If you watch, bring that
size up a little bit. If you look, the color underneath, see all the varying colors
that are underneath here? Underneath the shadow layer? Well, I’m gonna change my brush too, ‘cuz it’s lagging a little bit. There we go. If you look, see how you can see through? You can see through the
color that we’re laying in. Now here, I’m gonna bring
the size down a little bit. Okay, so you see this cheekbone up here, well the top part of that is gonna be lit. So, I’m gonna leave that be. I’m right under the eye,
but all of this underneath that cheekbone is gonna go into shadow. And this is gonna go
into shadow under here. Part of the jaw will go in the shadow. Let’s lighten that just a little bit. Just bring the opacity
down a little bit more. There we go. We’ll just lighten that up. Now see how all of this,
all of the color underneath is coming through, so we’re painting in, basically painting in a shadow. Now, if we were painting traditionally, you know, I’d have to
paint like that dark brown against this cool lighter
color, but by using these blend modes with
Multiply and the next blend mode we’re gonna use, you really don’t have to worry about that. This could be your base
for laying in your shadows. Now you can always go in
later and vary up the color, and I’ll show you that in a little bit. But look at this. We’re gonna put some shadow on the nose, right under the nose there. Alright, so there we go. So we’ve laid in some shadow, there, okay? Oh, let’s get a little bit down here. Right in there. Right along the body there. Change my brush up. There we go. There get something nice and subtle. There. See that? We’ve got some nice shadow going here. And no matter how much I put over it, because I’ve got it set on Multiply, and I’ve got it set at a midtone here. The color underneath
is gonna shine through. It’s gonna come through. Okay? So that’s great, let me
just put a little bit more finishing touches, so
there we go, I’m gonna get a little bit of shadow under
these ridges on the snout. There we go. Maybe a little darker. There. Okay? So that’s our shadow, and
it already looks like, if I click back and
forth, all of the sudden, it’s getting some kind of
cool form to it. Right? Now, we want to create a light side now. So, I’m gonna create another layer on top. And I’m gonna set that
blend mode to Overlay. See where it says Overlay right there? Right here. I set it to Overlay. Now, what Overlay does,
is it’s gonna brighten up whatever I paint over the top. And I want to be very subtle with it. So, I’m grabbing a real bright color, right there, and warm because I want my light areas to be warm. I’m gonna bring that
opacity down to about 54%. And I’m gonna go into the light areas now, and start painting in where
I want the light to hit. You can see that’s
exactly, gonna make that a little more neutral, that’s
exactly what’s happening. See that? Now, once again, just
as in the shadow area, this does the opposite. This lets the color shine through, but it brightens everything underneath it. So it shines through it. So I’m not having to do
a bright off-white color and then a bright orange
and all that kind of stuff. It automatically is brightening
up everything underneath it. See that? Look at that. I’m painting in light. Just painting the light right on. See how everything just brightens up? When I paint over it? I can just be very loose,
very quick, there we go. Same down here. Now, why do I do it like this? Well, there’s a couple of reasons. And especially when
I’m doing my creatures. I’ll show you why. When I do creatures, whether
they’re wildlife animals, look at that, brightens the nose right up, whether it’s wildlife
like this or I’m doing made up creatures or whatever, a lot of times they’ll
have markings on them. And that’s a lot of painting
when you have to figure out the markings going
into light and shadow and all that kind of stuff. But when I lay in my light
and shadow like this, watch what happens. Okay, I’m gonna show you. What happens with the
leopard, the leopards’s got a lot of spots, right? So, I’m just gonna go ahead,
now that I’ve got all this kinda laid in, I’m gonna go
ahead and start laying in these markings, the spots. Or if you’re doing some kind
of crazy lizard-dragon creature and it’s got stripes, you
can do the same thing. But, I’m gonna start
laying in these spots. And watch what happens. I’m gonna make sure I put in my layer, my spot layer, I’m gonna
put that underneath. It’s gonna be under the
shadow layer and under that highlight layer, okay? These are gonna be my spots, underneath. Now I’m gonna grab a somewhat
dark, but not too dark, not black, tone, okay? Now watch what happens. I’m gonna bring the opacity up. I’m gonna start laying in spots like you would see on a leopard. Now look what happens when
I go into the light areas. Look at that! They automatically lighten up. And when I get into the shadows, it automatically goes dark. See that? Pretty darn cool. Put a couple little spots in here. Now, leopards have these dark,
along with a lot of big cats, get these markings, whisker,
muzzle markings along here. Look at that, they lighten
right up automatically when I get into the light areas. Let’s look at it along here. I’m gonna knock this up a little bit. All spots get a little larger
when you get underneath. Whoops. There we go. Now watch this. I’m gonna have a spot go
from shadow into light. Look at that. It automatically goes into light. See that? Now look at ’em. Now they’re really lit and bright. I’m not changing the color. This is all just from laying in the Overlay layer and the Multiply layer. Come back here, and we’ve
got nice dark areas. So the markings automatically get darker. And this is why I like to use this, because it speeds things up a lot. I can go right in and paint
some negative areas in there. It speeds things up a lot so
I don’t have to worry about changing color for the markings
going into the dark areas and that sort of thing. And then once all this is
laid in, I can always go back and create layers on top
that will accentuate. And I’ll show you what I mean by that. So, I’m just gonna quickly
lay in the rest of these. So, there you can see, these
markings, especially in here, the markings going into light and shadow. Look at that, see how dark
it gets there compared to up here, just automatically? Just by working underneath that Overlay layer and the Multiply layer. Now, if I want, I can
create a layer on top of everything and I’m
just gonna create a nice, bright edge along that top. Oops. There we go. Something nice and bright,
actually, you know what? Let’s create a background. I wanna get rid of this gray. Let’s do a nice green
kinda dark background. There we go. Just gonna scribble it in really fast. Now let’s go even darker and cooler in some of these other areas. Go a little bigger. There, I’ll erase behind it, there we go. There. It’s kind of an interesting
little background we got. Now, I’m gonna erase some
of the, because it’s not completely opaque, the underpainting. I’m gonna erase some of that painting that I just laid in the background color. There, now I’m back to that
top layer I was talking about. Now, we’ve got a nice dark background, and we’re gonna go kind
of bright with this. I’m gonna imagine the light
really kind of reflecting off that top edge, okay? Now, watch this, I can
go in and I can really start to define very
quickly some of these edges. And these are the, kind of
puts the finishing touches. I’m gonna go ahead and grab a
nice bright pink along here. See, I’ve already got most of the lighting taken care of just very quickly. You can see how fast we did this. And now, it’s just going in, it’s a matter of just really kind of accentuating
what we’ve just laid in. Put a little highlight on that nose. Go even brighter with it,
nice bright little ting, right off the, on the nose. Let’s do a glint on the eye too. There we go. Maybe a little bit in here. Look at that, oh it’s starting to sing. Little some highlights
on the bright fur there. I’m just adding little touches on top of what we’ve already created. There we go. Just very quickly we laid
in some of those shadows and highlights and it
really did most of the work. And now I’m just very quickly
laying in little accents. Here I’m thinking about some
little bit of rim lighting maybe coming back here, right there. Go a little bigger with the brush. I’m gonna grab, see now I’m
painting around those spots because I’m painting opaque. But, that’s okay, gives it a
little bit more spontaneity. Looks a little more like light. There, now look at that. A matter of just a couple minutes we really painted in some light. Now for the finishing touches, of course, what’s a cat without whiskers? Paint in a couple whiskers. And leopards tend to have their
whiskers come down like so. I’m have them going back
here on perspective. And coming down and around,
maybe a few off the chin. There, look at that. So very quickly we went, see
how quickly I laid this in. Take those spots off,
that’s where we started. Just a couple of minutes
ago, with our local color. And then we laid in the shadow. We laid in our highlights. We added a background. We’ve quickly laid in those spots. And then, our finishing touches. Look how quickly we laid that in. This is how, many people ask me, Aaron, how do you create these images so quickly in Photoshop, digitally? This is how I do it. I try to find shortcuts anywhere I can. I’m always thinking about light, shadow, form and the quickest way to get there. So, anyway, I hope you
learned something today. And until next time,
I’ll talk to you later. Bye.

100 thoughts on “Photoshop – Simple methods for painting light and shadow

  1. Greetings sir and LOTS OF THANKS, that's an amazing trick.
    But I have a question.
    What about painting energy waves, could you do a tutorial about it ?

  2. Thank you so much for this! It really taught me some great techniques for lighting. I'm definitely too shy with lighting sometimes xD

  3. Thank you very much for this great video : ) The tipps are great and helped me out a lot. I also painted the "old fashion" way and it drove me nuts sometimes to chose all the different colors.

  4. I'm working to be an animator myself, and this really helped me to master photoshop! Thank you Aaron, I also owe my favourite disney movies, the Lion King and Brother Bear, to you.

  5. Wow! I am going to use this technique in my future work! I use multiply all the time and never thought to use it like this! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!!!

  6. Yeahhh… I just came to get better at shading, but now I think I'm going to start making animal illustrations 😛

  7. I grew up watching the movies you worked on! To be studying your style and learning from you is amazing. Thank you so much!!

  8. Definitely one of the best digital painting tuts. Made something so complicated looking to simple. Now I want to go back to digital painting again , I was kinda discouraged because I couldn't get the right colours (being that I'm mildly colour blind) . This is better way to tacle painting without spending too much time

  9. AMAZING! THANK YOU! Fellow animal lover/drawer too.(https://cdna.artstation.com/p/assets/images/images/000/719/124/large/christopher-miller-d-croc.jpg?1431475411). Do you know if these same techniques work with pro-create on I-pad? Thinking about getting a new I-pad. (Yes I know photoshop is coming).

  10. Thank you for calling it a leopard and not a cheetah, everyone always gets that wrong.
    I love the way you shade! It makes digital painting so much easier

  11. Being the pedant I am, I feel the need to mention that overlay can darken as well as brighten. If the pixels in the pixels in the overlay layer is brighter than 50% grey, it brightens. If lower, it darkens. If exactly 50% grey it's invisible. This behaviour is very handy in many situations.

    If you want to be sure that you only brighten the pixels no matter how bright or dark the color of your brush, you can use "add" or "screen" or something like that.

    I will now return to my dwellings as a denisen of the "well actually…!" crowd of commenters and let the guy with the actual knowledge and decades of professional experience talk.

  12. Simply wonderful!!!! Thank you for sharing your skills and for being such an inspirational artist xXx

  13. You are such a wholesome man. I love art, though it's not gonna be a career for me cause I kinda suck, and this is so helpful

  14. "Local Color"… You mean 'Diffuse'? I've been in art and design for over 2 decades, and I've never heard anyone use 'local color'.

    The major issue with your method is that it only works for natural light, and neutral light colors, and only for very direct light. Once you start to factor in things like artificial light, and lighting that is skewed one way or another on the RGB spectrum, and indirect lighting, that's when it starts to fall apart.

  15. thats the same tecnique (or almost) that i use, but dude! that starting skecth is sooooo good, how you make a stylized drawing like that? That was beautiful even before you put colors on xD, but anyway nice tutorial

  16. I was working on an art piece for a gift art swap, and was getting so dang frustrated with myself, because I knew what I WANTED to do, but didn't know how to actually DO it. And then I stumbled onto this video (Almost 4 years late, haha) and it helped so much!! You present the ideas really simply and in a way that's easy to follow and it worked wonders on my art 😀

  17. Hello, what is the blending mode of that layer on top (whiskers, highlights)? Thanks! Amazing tutorial BTW!

  18. Hey Aaron,

    at first I thought: "Not so impressive…" but seeing the whole thing and the speed you managed to create it, I was pretty impressed by your technique. Thank you for sharing!

  19. how does your brush blend transparancy so well, i always have to deal with the marker effect where the line undearneath the new stroke stands out, i am using some more "natural" brushes but just cant get the transparancy to mix so well like yours.

  20. Maybe someone can answer this for me, but its something I've always had a hard time with. Neutral light, like how Aaron does in this video i.e. warm sunlight, natural light etc. is something I can do fairly well and I don't struggle with. Now, what about colored light? Like from a neon sign being the only light source or something like that. Would the overlay and multiply still work? Or is there another technique?

  21. Shoulder is brighter than the heads lighting. Suppose to be the other way around since the head is CLOSER to the light source…

  22. Great video, this was exactly what I was looking for! You're an amazing artist by the way. Subscribed 🙂

  23. Is simple with pen tablet! but i don't have! And so many people don't have one! but your art mr. was awesome!

  24. This was an amazing video! It has made my life so much easier when it comes to digital artwork. As you can assume, I definitely subscribed! Thanks again m8!

  25. I love your videos because they’re super informative but also really calming lol. You sound like a modern Bob Ross if he was around for digital painting

  26. Holy shit this is such a simple method/concept but how come I never think of this! I've always manually picked and painted all the colors and I really struggle with it sometimes. Thank you so much! I almost feel a bit like "cheating" doing it this way, since it's like I skipped the entire color theory knowledge by using technology….but whatever, I'll just paint first, maybe I'll gradually come to grasp it given enough experiences.

  27. I use Procreate any tips on what brushes to use to sketch things out like this? The regular sketch pencils in Procreate aren’t suited for my drawing

  28. Это неловкое чувство, когда я использую тот же метод покраски, но это все равно занимает у меня 10 часов кропотливой работы 😞

  29. Thank you SO MUCH for this. This indeed helps so much! You are amazing! You didnt even speed up the process, shading it in real time!

  30. I just stumbled into your work not long ago! 😍😍😍
    I love it! going back to painting the same way, except I don't have a Cintique.

  31. Thanks for the video, it really helped me understand some things!
    I've been trying this technique, but I'm probably doing something wrong… so I have a question: In what range (percentage?) of saturation and brightness should a local color be, so it doesn't get weird when I add the light and shadow… or does it even matter…?

    By the way, these are my painting goals. 'Fast' and effective!

    Thanks again! x)

  32. "I'm thinking about light, shadow, form, and the quickest way to get there." – – Love this. Thank you!

  33. This is a beautiful way of shading and lighting drawings. Thanks for sharing. really appreciated. Have been illustrating for years and this has taken me in a fresh new direction.

  34. This is amazing! I have a Sketchbook Pro drawing programme and going to give it a try. Hope it works. Is Photoshop a better option than what I've got? Thank you for sharing.

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