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Soft-Cel Shading Tut. by tabbykat Soft-Cel Shading Tut. by tabbykat
This is a tutorial for the soft-edged cel-shading I've been using as of late. It works in just about all versions of Photoshop, I think.

I've had a couple people ask for it, including Nemi, and it's her birthday this Friday so I have to be nice. :P

So, here it is. It's huge (about 1mb, actually), so you've been warned.
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ShayGar Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2013  Student
Ooooh! This is so simple yet awesome! Thanks! :D
CiderLatte Featured By Owner Aug 22, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for making this!! I'm so happy I found your tutorial!! It is going to be such a huge help for me! :D
Queenstormwolf15 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thanks for this
Kurisuchan-kun Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2012  Student General Artist
I seeing it useful!
I'll try to follow this tut. Thank you.
Kuro-Churro Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'd be more interested if you used a.. less suggestive picture.
shadow-candy Featured By Owner May 20, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is great! But one thing I feel stupid to ask is on my photoshop I dont seem to have the brush your using could you help me find it?
Octomar Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2011
So that's how they do it!
OMG Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You Thank You:iconthankyouplz:
Tres Bien!...
MangaWhispers Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Soooo... what's the difference between cell shading and soft cell shading???
DragonReine Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Basic cel shading is where the different color blocks are seperated by HARD edges, like cutouts laid on top of each other.

Pros: Very graphic, very bold and easy to do
Cons: For more complex lineart, or 'sophisticated' drawing styles, it looks a bit cartoony.

Soft cel shading is basically the basic cel shading, but with SOFT edges in certain areas, so the color transitions look more natural, mimicking "traditional" paint blending but overall still maintaining the graphical coloring style of comics/manga.

Pros: Done correctly, it makes a piece look very sophisticated, with a 3D-ish feel.
Cons: Unless you know where to put the soft edges and where to keep the hard ones, you will risk "muddying-up" your drawing, and even make the overall form look incorrect.
MeowTwice Featured By Owner Sep 6, 2010
Thanks! Awesome tutorial!

I would've expected it to be harder, but this was super easy. Thanks again!
raygirl Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2010  Professional Filmographer
this is pretty nifty...I may save it for future refference :)
ChristiVivar Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
This is really good! Thanks for sharing! :D
doggygirl10 Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2010
I can't find the Gausian blur on my photoshop... D8 But, this is a very helpful tutorial and I really like it. (^_^)
Rain-of-Strife17 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2010
lol I've seen plenty of 'soft-cell shading' tutorials but never quite understood wth they were talking about, I'm so glad you made this clearer. lolz
Jujupancakes Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2009
Nice XD.
jaq-of-hearts Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
This was very helpful. =D
MangaMageBlue Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2008
You make it look so simple (I've always gone with airbrush for soft cel)
Kitty1000 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2008
This helps me SO MUCH!! THANKYOU!!
dakykun Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2008
I can just say OMG
Man,thank you so much for this!!
Mike-J Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2008
Very very good tutorial!

Simple, quick, easy to follow and extremely useful! And the best part, it can be used in GIMP and almost every other photo-editing software.

And the drawing is very cool too!

Stuff like this should get featured.
April-Lily Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
This tutorial is awesome! I tried this on a peice I just did and it turned out much better than some of the other tutorials I tried using! It is super simple too!
OspreySoul Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2008  Student Digital Artist
Question: Do you use Multiply for the shaded layer or just pick a darker color?
skelly-jelly Featured By Owner May 8, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
This should be interesting to try, thanks for posting! :heart:
OspreySoul Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2008  Student Digital Artist
That blur tool works miracles, I swear. I keep seeing it in tutorials for things I thought would be insanely complicated. x3
Neonyei Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2008  Student Digital Artist
Really nifty Tutorial. ^-^ I think I'll try this c:
GlitterfullXMuffin Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2008
Thanks for the tut! I shall use! :D
*gives you muffin and runs off*
TheDJTC Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2008
Are the lines scanned or digital?
tabbykat Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2008
Digital in this case.
Silverwolf06 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2008
Ah wow a very interesting style. Hmm I think I'll try it out on the idea that's been on my mind all day. :3
Thank you for sharing. <3
psychosako Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
you know, it never occurred to me to use this technique on just shading and lighting.

JadineR Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2007
This is so much easier (and yet similar) to what I do. Great tut! :heart:
DarthAnime42 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2007
just a you use the pen tool alot? even while shading? (of course before you blur it...)
tabbykat Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2007
Not usually. I use the pentool for very long, steady curves that I can't manage by hand, but about 90% is done with teh brush tool. The pentool takes quite a while to use, and it frustrates me. I'm not patient enought. ^^;
Smiley90 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2007   Photographer
wow..thanx :clap:
danikruse Featured By Owner Aug 16, 2007
That;s awesome! I always wondered how people got it so smooth and glowy-ish looking. XD
theIronArtist Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2007
this will come in handy in the near future! thanks for posting it!
AtomicBunny Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2007  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
nice! i totally learned
ShuiYue Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007  Student Filmographer
Simple yet very effective, the best kind of tutorial
gummypocky Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'll try and make some use of this technique ^.^ thanks for sharing
festes-girl Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
Thanks for the tutorial! Now I have something new to try to add to my pathetic arsenal... :evillaugh:
Jazz-teh-Rudie Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007   Traditional Artist
Very cool and helpful! Thanks :D
sharkbyte3827 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
oh nice work on this tutorial. Its always good to see some little cartoon representations of the artist in the tutorials aswell, it makes me laugh <D.

I really dont know what else to say other than this is a great tutorial you made
ashleyw Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
I actually never thought about using the burn tool like that because of how much people think it's an slap job tool, but I agree with your comment in the tutorial. I might try incorporating some of these techniques next time I color something in Photoshop (I still haven't found my own style for coloring). Thank you for sharing!
AustralianReject182 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
That will be usefull! Nice technique, and thanks!
byrdiethemotley Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
Oooh....I'll have to try this someday! I was actually wondering how to do it.
Thanks! :)
nemisiscat Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
Oh yes, and I forgot to note that this tut is insanely easy. I thought it would be way more complicated than that! =D It'll give me the most awesome excuse to go back to lazy cel-shading instead of trying to get better with soft shading. >_>;

tabbykat Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
XD! I know. I stumbled across it while just playing around.
nemisiscat Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
I love it because it's like normal cel-shading, but it's soft while still being crisp. The difference is noticeable, but subtle.

nemisiscat Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
Thank you~ :heart: :heart: :heart:

Hooray for b-day prezzies! ♥
Shufly Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2007
Thanks for the tutorial tab!
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Submitted on
August 13, 2007
Image Size
1.0 MB


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