How to Create an Anime Artwork in Photoshop

Learn step by step how this painting was created. You will get a good understanding of how to create anime images with beautiful lighting and learn techniques that will help you in many types of drawings.

Preview of Final Results


How to Create an Anime Artwork in Photoshop

Step 1 – The Outline

Most people draw the outline on paper then use a scanner to load the outline into Photoshop. Begin by opening the outline image into Photoshop.


  1. Use the Levels tool (Image > Adjustments > Levels) to correct the contrast of the outline. You can do this with the Levels tool by moving the black and white input sliders towards the center of the histogram. Make sure that the background is 100% white and the outline is 100% black with smooth edges.
  2. To begin, you’ll need to unlock the Background layer. To do this, double-click on the Background layer in the Layers palette and click OK in the New Layer window.
  3. Now that the layer is unlocked, you can change the blending mode to Multiply. This will make the white background in the layer transparent.

Tip: Ensure that there are no broken lines. You will be using the Magic Wand tool often and broken lines will slow you down.

Step 2 – Separating the Outline

In this step, you’ll learn how to separate the outline and the background into two layers. This will also make the outline slightly thinner. You’ll also learn how to dissect the outline without any jagged edges using the Load Selection from Layer command.

In the above image, you can see the difference between using the Magic Wand tool and the Load Selection from Layer command. The Magic Wand tool produces jagged edges that become apparent when placed on a colored background. Instead of using the Magic Wand tool, use the Load Selection from Layer command to produce smoother outlines that blend well with any background.


  1. In the Channels palette (Window > Channels), click on the load channel as selection button. This will create a selection using the tonal information from the layer. Press the Delete button on your keyboard to delete the white background.
  2. Add a new layer below the outline layer and fill the layer with white.
  3. Change the blending mode of the layer to Multiply.

Step 3 – Base Color

Now that we have the outline and white background separated, we can add the base color.

3_flat coloring

  1. Add a new layer below the white layer.
  2. Select the Magic Wand tool and, in the option bar, set the Tolerance to 50.
  3. In the option bar, checkmark the Contiguous and Sample All Layers options.
  4. With the Magic Wand tool selected, click where you want to add color.
  5. Expand the selection by 3 pixels using the Expand command (Select > Modify > Expand). If you are using Windows, you can press Alt, S, M, E on your keyboard to quickly access this menu item.
  6. Use the Paint Bucket tool to fill the selection with a color of your choice. Use the same technique (Create a selection with the Magic Wand tool then fill with the Paint Bucket tool) for the entire image.

Step 4 – Adding Shadows

In this part, you’ll learn how to add shadows to the image. One important technique from this step is how to select the correct color.


  1. Create a new layer and position it between the white layer and the base color layer.
  2. Select the Magic Wand tool and set the tolerance to 1 (so that it will only pick one color) and uncheck the Contiguous and Sample All Layers options.
  3. Select the Brush tool and set the hardness to 100%. This will give the brush a sharp edge.
  4. In the Tools palette, click on the foreground color. This will bring up the Color Picker window. Select the base color from where you want to start. This will give us the hue of the color. Move the slightly off the area to change the saturation and brightness of the color.
  5. Paint the shadows. Be sure to pay attention to where the light is coming from to get proper looking shadows.

Step 5 – Dodge and Burn

The Dodge and Burn tool will be used to give a gradient tone effect to the solid colors.

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