Hi! First things first - as usual - Remember that I am not an expert, and do not claim, and will never claim, to be one.
This is just me talking about my experiences and what I've noted, and there's lots of cool things you can do with the subject of this article you're reading currently: Shading!
There's so many kinds of shading. I'm gonna go over what I know; and this isn't for "how exactly to do shading" - this is for "an showcase of shading and a quick primer on how to do them if they seem difficult or not very easy to grasp"! So you can look here if you're looking for some kind of interesting shading ideas!
The images here are from Deviantart (sourced directly back to the artists and specific page of that artist), as well as wikis and others' official sites.
...That said, I ended up using a lot of Chu's art because they do a lot of neat shading tricks I like. Oops.
This article also doesn't cover "Flat," which is literally just flat colors with no shading applied. That one can look nice too, so don't be afraid of keeping to flats if you like how your art looks with flats more.
- Top & Foreword
- Strong, Bold
- "Soft" Cel-shading
Mike Mignola's art, sourced here, is a really good example of this kind of shading; you use bold, strong shadows, oftentimes black, in copious amounts. It's oftentimes combined with other things like a lot of detailing, but Mike does the detailing a little simply which I feel adds really nicely to it.
Official Digimon art, sourced here, is also a really good example of this kind of shading.
I feel like this one is really easy to do too; it's essentially just cel-shading, but with extremes used (i.e. solid black used to great effect). You can also do it with white or another kind of color, but I don't have any good examples of this offhand.
Raizap/Raizy/Chu's art, sourced here, once again, is a pretty good example of this kinda style.
This one is a little complicated, due to the kinds of tools it may take to use it; there are a lot of ways to go about this kind of shading, but the easiest I've found will be described below in just a moment.
You lay down the colors, a la normal cel-shading, where you want it to be, and then here's where you might have trouble.
You take one of a certain kind of tool, and apply it over the contours (the edges) of the shading you placed down so that it looks softer and more smooth. This kind of brush required is a little difficult to pull off in photoshop, but it's what's called "glow" or "airbrush" in a lot of things. It's also sometimes just an soft eraser. If you need help finding one of these for an certain program, ask me and I'll try and help.
If your program has an "brush is transparent" so you can make that brush act transparent, you can also do this with the airbrush or such set to that, rather than just brushing it over with an soft color. Either tactic is viable and valid; do it however you want to.
this art, sourced here, again is a good example. You can also see it in basically everything like anime promo art, animation, etc.... Some don't, of course, but a large majority of them do.
This one is excessively simple. Just take an brush, any brush, that;s not blended, and controur the areas you want to shade, and use any method you like of filling in that area, be it paint bucket, going over it by hand, or magic wand, or more.
This kind of art (sourced here) is what you see in most anime-style art that's not just animated cels; you can also oftentimes see this in models, especially softer ones like pokemon ones!
You take an simple blending brush and just blend it together a lot, until it's soft. It's sometimes similiar to gradient or soft cel-shading, but also distinct.
You can also use what I call an "mixing" brush, that's not meant to blend two colors togeether like "blend tools," but that's a little more convoluted and generally more textured. It's pretty easy to do this kind of shading in programs like sai and sai 2, though.
This shading (art sourced here) can be a little difficult to pull off, because it can easily look like one of the others, but the person I linked does it pretty great. It's a pretty complicated one to explain, since a lot of people have different ideas of how to do it, and they even look different.
Here's another one (source here) that shows what I mean by they can look different too, but still both look painty.
HOWEVER, there's so, so many "painting styles" of shading and stuff...!
in fact, here's an entire link to different kinds of "painting," on deviantart (to pokemon), and another one to artstation, of more painting-styles.
And, finally, an link to my (perhaps now-defunct by the time you read this?) Inspiration tumblr blog's painting tag. There's other cool tags for cool art there too, if you want to poke around.
unfortunately, as a result of this kind of "shading", it can be really hard to explain possible ways to do it, so look up "painting" tutorials on deviantart (with this nice link I provided for you).
This one (source here) is really nice and simple, great for times you don't really want to put effort into shading but don't want to leave it flat.
You can do this one, which is just "highlights," with minimal dark shading, very easily; just take any brush you like the texture of, and on a new layer, add white marks on whatever you want to shade. Bam!