Manga special effects
Photoshop is a hugely versatile program for drawing Manga art – and there are literally millions of different effects that you could add. For this tutorial, we have worked on a sample image, though you should use your own.
The aim of this masterclass is to walk you though some of the effects you can create to add extra polish to Manga art.
Study the techniques, then feel free to apply them to your own work. We arranged the image so the background is on a different layer to the main character – and we’ll mainly work on the background of the image.
However, to start, click on the layer containing your central character to select it. Switch to the Magic Wand tool and click on the orange part of the letter “g” on the right.
We need to select all of the orange parts of the layer, but don’t worry – you don’t need to click on them all individually.
Go to Select > Similar and Photoshop will automatically select all of the orange-coloured areas of the image. Obviously, you can use this to select a similar colour in your image.
Next, go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy to create a new layer containing all of the orange areas (or whatever colour you have selected). Rename this layer “Orange Glows”, or something similar.
PART 1: ADDING GLOW EFFECTS
1. The first thing that we’ll do to this layer is apply a blur to create a glow effect around the signs in this image. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a Radius of 35.5 pixels.
2. You can already see the effect of this blur layer, but we can really intensify it by changing its blending mode. Click on the blending mode drop-down menu in the Layers palette and select Hard Light. This has a similar effect to shining a bright light from behind the layer, and you’ll immediately see the difference it makes.
3. With the Orange Glows layer selected, switch to the Magic Wand tool and set the mode to Add to Selection.
4. Zoom in on the sign with the blue Japanese lettering with an orange outline. Using the Magic Wand tool, select all of the orange areas on this sign. Next, go to Select > Feather and enter a Feather Radius of 2 pixels.
5. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy and rename the new layer “Orange Neons”. Set this layer’s blending mode to Color Dodge to create a bright yellow-orange glow.
6. We’ll expand this glow a bit to make it look more like neon. Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and accept the default name of “Orange Neons copy”. Finally, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 35.5 pixels to create a strong yellow glow around the letters.
7. The orange areas of the image are finished, so let’s move onto the yellows. Click on the Background layer to select it, then zoom in on the area around the girl’s left arm and the fox sign behind it. Use the Magic Wand tool to select all of the yellow areas in this part of the image, then move over to the bird sign on the opposite side of the image and add the bird’s eye to the selection.
8. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy to copy the yellow areas to a new layer, and rename the layer “Yellow Glows”. Blur the layer by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and entering a Radius of 25 pixels. Finally, set the layer’s blending mode to Screen to brighten the glow a little.
9. Next, we will apply a neon glow to the green areas. Click on the Background layer in the Layers palette and zoom in on the cat sign.
10. Using the Magic Wand tool, select all of the green areas. Pan down to the bird sign, and select all of the green areas there, and on the sign above and to the right of it. Next, pan over to the top-right of the image and select the green border of the sign containing red characters.
11. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy and rename the new layer “Green Glows.” Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set a Radius of 25 pixels, then change the layer’s blending mode to Hard Light.
12. The green glows are a little weak at the moment, but we can fix this easily by duplicating the layer and therefore doubling the glow. Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and accept the default name to immediately see the effect.
13. Next, we’ll add a glow to the light blue areas. Click on the Background layer in the Layers palette, then use the Magic Wand tool to select the light blue petals in the bird sign. Then add the light blue border around the sign on the right with the blue and orange Japanese characters on it.
14. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy, and rename this new layer “Cyan Glows”. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 25 pixels, and set the blending mode to Screen.
15. The glow effects are really beginning to bring the neon signs to life, but there are still a couple more colours that we want to add glows to before we’re done.
16. First, we’ll turn our attention to the reds. Click on the Background layer, and use the Magic Wand tool to select all of the red letters on the far right sign. Pan down the image and click on the three hanging red lanterns to add those to the selection, then pan across to the Stop sign on the left and add that to the selection.
17. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy to create a new layer containing a copy of the red parts of the image that we just selected. Rename this new layer “Red Glows”. Apply the Gaussian Blur filter with a Radius of 25 pixels, then set the layer’s blending mode to Screen.
18. Now we’ll add a glow to the white areas. Click on the Background layer in the Layers palette.
19. Using the Magic Wand tool, click on all of the parts of the white letters on the hanging lanterns. Pan up to the fox sign and add the two white parts of the fox. Finally, pan all the way over to the cat sign at the top left of the image and add the white parts of the cat, including its eyes, to the selection.
20. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy and rename the new layer “White Glows”. Apply a 25-pixel Gaussian Blur to this layer, and set its blending mode to Screen.
21. The white glows are a little overpowering at the moment, and they’re drawing the eye away from the main focus of the image. We can tone them down a little by lowering the layer’s opacity. This will make the layer fainter, allowing more of the background colour to shine through. The Opacity setting is found at the top of the Layers palette. Change the layer’s opacity to 80 per cent.
22. That’s our first set of neon glows finished, and it’s a good time to save the image by going to File > Save. With all of the glow layers complete, we’ll do a bit of housekeeping and tidy up the Layers palette. Click on the Create a New Group icon at the bottom of the Layers palette, and rename the group “Neon Glows.” Select all of the glow layers by Ctrl/Cmd+clicking on their names, and then drag them all into the Neon Glows group. When they’re all in the group, click on the small arrow next to its name to collapse it and hide all the layers inside.
23. We’ll now apply a slight blur to the background layer to help make the girl leap off the screen. Click on the Background layer and apply the Gaussian Blur filter with a Radius of 4.5 pixels. Zoom out so that you can see the whole image, and you will appreciate what a big difference this small change makes.
24. Next, we are going to add some warmer glow colours to the background. Instead of blurring selections like we did for the neon glows, we’ll apply these warm glows by hand using the Brush tool. Click on the Neon Glows group in the Layers palette, then click on the Create a New Layer icon and rename the new layer “Warm Glows”. Set the blending mode of this new layer to Hard Light. Bring up the Color Picker and enter R: 253, G: 197, B: 137 to get a pastel orange colour.
25. Click on the Brush tool in the Toolbar, and move to the Tool Options bar to change the settings. Click on the Brush drop-down menu, and pick the Soft Round 300 Pixel brush. Next, change the Master Diameter of this brush to 435 pixels. As you’ll see, the reason we’ve chosen this •gure is so that the brush is big enough to cover the hanging lanterns. The other brush options should be left at their default settings, as follows – Mode: Normal, Opacity: 100%, Flow: 100 per cent.
26. Now everything’s set up correctly, we can begin colouring. Zoom in on the red hanging lanterns and position the mouse over the top of the rightmost lantern.
27. Click once with the mouse and you will see a soft orange glow appear on the lantern, as if there were a light inside it.
28. Let’s add a few more glows. Pan left and click once at the top of the orange sign just under the girl’s leg, then click once more at the top of the green sign next to it. Position the mouse over the girl’s leg so that just a small amount of glow shines out from behind her.
BACKGROUND GLOWS CONTINUED
29. We’ll now increase the brush size to add the next set of glows. Click on the Brush drop-down in the Tool Options bar and change the Master Diameter to 735 pixels. For the first glow with this larger brush, move over to the cat sign at the top left of the image and click once in the centre of the cat’s face.
30. Zoom out so that you can see the whole of the image. We will add four more glows with this large brush to give the appearance of light glinting off the signs. The first is in the top-right corner of the 70 speed sign. Position the brush so that a small crescent of light will appear above the sign, then click once. Do the same for the arrow sign and the top of the sign below it.
31. Finally, position the brush so its centre is a little to the left of the girl’s nose and click once to create a soft glow behind her head. You can see now why it was such a good idea to keep the girl on a separate layer. We can apply all sorts of effects to the background without affecting her at all.
32. There’s one last set of warm glows to apply. Go to the Brush menu in the Tool Options bar and set the Master Diameter to 1,255 pixels. Position the brush over the girl’s right wrist click once to apply a glow.
33. Do the same at the top of the “g” sign, behind her right ankle, behind her right shoulder, and behind her head.
34. The glows are a little strong at the moment, so we can tone them down by setting the opacity of the Warm Glows layer to 75 per cent. These glows not only add to the neon background effects, but they also help to lift the girl out from the background.
35. That’s all of the glow areas finished, so it’s a good time to save your image. The next thing that we are going to focus on is the sky.
36. Click on the Background layer in the Layers palette to select it. Switch to the Magic Wand tool, and carefully click on each of the areas of the sky in turn to create one large selection. You may need to zoom in a little to select the smaller areas around the flags and the girl’s hair. Don’t forget to add the two small areas between her arm and her boot.
37. With the selection complete, go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy and rename the new layer “Sky Effect 1”. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 80 pixels to this layer to give it a large, soft glow, then change the layer’s blending mode to Screen.
38. We’re getting closer to the glowing effect that we want for the sky, but there’s still a way to go. First, let’s double the glowing effect by duplicating the layer.
39. Make sure that the Sky Effect 1 layer is selected in the Layers palette, and go to Layer > Duplicate Layer. Give the new layer the name “Sky Effect 2”. The effect is a bit too strong because the layer is automatically set to Screen mode, but we can alter it by changing the blending mode to Hard Light.
40. The sky is looking good now, but it still looks slightly removed from the rest of the image. We want the glow from the sky to be shining down into the street to tie the two parts of the image together.
41.The simplest way to do this is to increase the size of the glow that we have already created. Go to Edit > Transform > Scale to bring up a transform box around the sky. You can drag the square handles at the sides and corners of the box to resize the sky.
42. First, drag the bottom-left corner handle down and to the left until it’s about level with the bottom of the fire hydrant. The glow is encroaching a little too far over the signs on the left, so click inside the transform box and drag the sky shape to the right. Finally, click the bottom-centre handle and drag it down to increase the size of the glow a little more. You don’t need to be too precise with this, just pull the handles until the sky is in a position that you’re happy with. When you’re done, press Enter on the keyboard to apply the transformation.
43. The new sky glow still has a bit too much definition, so we’ll blur it some more. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 80 pixels. Save the image. We’ll now do a bit more work on the girl. Click on the arrow beside the Girl group in the Layers palette to open the group, then click on Girl Layer to select it. Go to Layer > Duplicate Layer and keep the default name of “Girl Layer copy”.
44. Change the layer’s blending mode to Screen to lighten the layer. We don’t want it to be quite that bright, so change the layer’s opacity to 50 per cent by entering that figure into the Opacity box at the top of the Layers palette. Finally, apply a Gaussian Blur with a Radius of 1.5 pixels to the layer.
45. If you zoom in on the girl’s face, you’ll notice that there is a thin black line separating the two pink tones. We want to remove this line so that the black lines only represent the outlines of areas in the image.
46. Select Girl Layer in the Layers palette, then go to Filter > Noise > Median. The Median filter reduces noise in an image by blending and smoothing the brightness between different areas. Set the Radius to 5 pixels and click OK.
47. If you look closely at the image now, you’ll notice that the black line has gone.
48. The girl is almost finished, but the picture still looks a little flat. We can really make it look like the girl is leaping into the air by adding a shadow beneath her. There is a convention in cartooning that shadows under leaping figures are represented by a simple ellipse rather than an anatomically correct shape. We can achieve this by using the Elliptical Marquee tool.
49. Click on the Background layer in the Layers palette. Select the Elliptical Marquee tool from the Toolbar, and set the following options in the Tool Options bar: Mode: New Selection, Feather: 0 px, Anti-alias: checked. Zoom out of the image so that you can see the grey border area below it. Click in the bottom left of the image and drag right and down outside the image area to create a shape like the one shown.
50. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy, and rename the new layer “Girl Shadow”. Next, set the blending mode of the layer to Multiply. You will notice that the area becomes darker. Now, we just need to soften the shadow. Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set a Radius of 50 pixels, then click OK.
51. The shadow’s given the girl a bit more lift, but we can give the image an even more 3D quality by lightening the ground around the shadow.
52. Zoom in closer to the sidewalk and road, then select the Background layer in the Layers palette. We’ll make a manual selection of the road area using the Polygonal Lasso tool, so select it from the Toolbar. Make sure that Feather is set to 0 px and Anti-alias is checked in the Tool Options bar. Click at the edge of the sidewalk area to start the selection, then work your way around the sidewalk and road area, clicking every time you need to turn a corner (don’t worry if it’s not perfect). When you get back to where you started, the small circle will appear next to the cursor icon meaning that the next time you click, the selection will be complete.
53. Go to Layer > New > Layer via Copy and rename the new layer “Sidewalk Highlight”. Set the blending mode of the layer to Screen, then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set a Radius of 40 pixels to soften the Sidewalk Highlight layer.
54. The highlight is good, but it’s a bit too strong in places. Luckily, because it’s on a separate layer, we can simply use the Eraser to blend the highlight into the background.
55. Select the Eraser tool from the Toolbar. We need to adjust some of the settings in the Tool Options bar to the following: Mode: Brush, Opacity: 100 per cent, Flow: 55 per cent, and select a soft brush with a Master Diameter of 1,255 pixels.
56. Click once on the sidewalk area near the base of each of the speed and Stop signs. Click again at the base of the fire hydrant, and then one final time in the bottom-right corner of the selection. And that’s it – how to add glow effects and shadows to lift any Manga art. Now just try it on your own images…
This article was extracted From Draw Manga Step-By-Step On Your Computer by Steve and Ghy Sampson.