How To Cell Shade A Picture In Photoshop

Cell shading is a popular technique used in digital art to create a cartoonish or stylized look. It involves adding flat colors and shadows to an image to create depth and dimension. In this tutorial, we will go through the steps on how to cell shade a picture in Photoshop.

Step 1: Choose an Image

The first step is to choose an image that you want to cell shade. It can be a photograph or a digital illustration. Keep in mind that cell shading works best with images that have clear and defined lines.

Step 2: Create a New Layer

Create a new layer on top of your image layer. This layer will be used for your cell shading. Make sure to name it so you can keep track of all your layers.

Step 3: Select Colors

Choose the colors you want to use for your cell shading. Typically, there are three different shades – a base color, a highlight color, and a shadow color. Use the Eyedropper tool to select colors from your image or create your own custom colors.

Step 4: Start Shading

Using the Brush tool, start shading your image with your chosen colors. Use the base color to fill in the areas that will not have highlights or shadows. Then, use the highlight color to add light to the areas that will be facing the light source. Finally, use the shadow color to add depth and dimension to the areas that will be in shadow.

Step 5: Refine Your Shading

Once you have completed your initial shading, refine it by adjusting the opacity of your shading layer or adding more shading layers. You can also use the Eraser tool to clean up any mistakes or smudges.

Step 6: Add Additional Details

Add any additional details to your image, such as highlights or textures, to enhance the cell shading effect.

Step 7: Save Your Image

Once you are satisfied with your cell shading, save your image as a PNG or JPEG file.


  • Can I use cell shading on any image?

    Cell shading works best with images that have clear and defined lines. If your image has a lot of details or is blurry, cell shading may not be the best option.

  • Can I use more than three shades for cell shading?

    Yes, you can use as many shades as you want for cell shading. However, using too many shades can make your image look cluttered and less stylized.

  • Can I use cell shading for realistic images?

    While cell shading is typically used for stylized or cartoonish images, it can also be used for realistic images. However, you may need to adjust your shading technique to make it look more natural.


Cell shading is a fun and easy technique to add dimension and depth to your digital art. By following these simple steps, you can learn how to cell shade a picture in Photoshop and create your own stylized images. Experiment with different colors and shading techniques to create unique and eye-catching artwork.

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