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Submitted on
May 18, 2012
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My Layer Order by Robaato My Layer Order by Robaato
Sohhhhh. I've been getting quite the number of inquiries as to how I color/setup my layers.

I already uploaded this one, but that one is probably complicating for beginning peeps to understand. So I've provided you with a bare-bones setup as to how I order my layers and their settings. This is for both Cel-Shades AND blended/Airbrushed styles.

DISCLAIMER: There's no one way to cel-shade/paint. Sometimes you can pick each individual color, others you can color it in manually with a brush, paint from a palette, etc. This is also for PHOTOSHOP USERS. I don't use GIMP or Painter, but the same rules apply.


:bulletblue: Lasso Tool - (Usually for cels) I mainly use the freeform lasso tool to select my sections where I will be placing the light/shadow/flats. For straighter sections, I'll switch to the Polygonal one.

:bulletblue: Custom Blender - I use that for blending colors together, usually for painty pieces. Either I slap down some colors and blend them or I'll blend from a filled selection. Either case, it's pretty nifty and valuable. I show how to make this in that same tutorial.

:bulletblue: Layer Styles - These are settings you can apply to a layer to give it a particular effect (glows, skin tone variance, noise, etc.) I slightly touched upon this on this process. I'm not gonna hold your hand on that one, you should experiment for yourself.

:bulletblue: Gradients - The use of the gradient tool to, obviously, make color/shadow/light gradations. Again, experiment.

Now when I color, Lighting and Value is key and forefront in my mind. If you don't know your values, then you're not going to get very far in your colors. So let me breakdown each layer to show you my thought process:

:bulletred: MAIN LINEART - I usually put my lineart layer on Multiply. Meaning that any color value that passes under it will be multiplied & DESTURATED on the color's value alone. So if you have red lines, and put a light-blue flat underneath, it'll just be a darker red. You're not blending them (a la Color burn does that, "Red + Blue = Purple"), you're just playing with the color's value pigment. Note that the lineart is separated from the Background (no white, pure lines).

:bulletred: BASE FLATS - As you see on the example above, these are simply my base flats. Nothing else to go off of. For my colors, I choose the color in pure light, because again, I'm letting my lighting discern how colors look in the end.

Now on top of my base flat, I have three lighting layers (hold alt-key and select between the base flat and the lighting layers to mask it to the base flat, that way everything you color stays within the base flat). These layers affect the lighting.

:bulletgreen: HIGHLIGHTS - This is on SOFT LIGHT Blending mode, and I select a light warm or cool color, depending on the direction I'm taking the pic. (See hex codes below).

:bulletgreen: SHADOWS - This is on HARD LIGHT Blending mode, and I select that dark purple color for my shadows.

:bulletgreen: SECONDARY HIGHLIGHTS - This is on OVERLAY Blending mode, and I select a light warm or cool color. I usually use this to double up on hot spots where my highlights fall. I also use it for underlighting/faint secondary light sources, as this will go UNDER the shadow layer.

The color I use for Shadows is #474253.
The color I use for Warm Light is #ffe9c7 (Sometimes I go orangey, depends on the illustration.)
The color I use for cool light is #dcf1ff.

That's pretty much all I got and I will refer anyone who asks in the future here. It's up to you to try things out/experiment.

Happy coloring! =)
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very helpful, thx a lot
Robaato May 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Sure thing!
this looks like order. and preparedness. what's that like?
Robaato May 18, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Hahaha, its not usually like this. I need to get on myself more often for naming every layer I make. XD I'll often scroll thru my layers looking and checking the eye on and off to see what layer that 'one thing' is on. LOL
same. naming just takes time and effort and eats away from precious painting time :'D
Predaguy May 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
To make up for that I created a template file with nothing on it but the basic layer order. I open that up everytime I'm gonna paint and just rezise/change to whatever I need, and then just save it as a new file. :D
KonekoRyu May 18, 2012   General Artist
mm.... I do about the same thing with the coloring underneath. however I cel shade (with gradient over certain areas) instead of soft shading abd blending. I've noticed it doesn't work well with my thick lines
Robaato May 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Yup, everyone has to experiment and find what works for their own style. :nod:
anzudrako May 18, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
O-O i am lost
Robaato May 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You'll find the way eventually. :)
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