Animated Shadows (on the character)

Ok, been trying to figure this out, and it’s driving me nuts…
How do you make shading like this?
(for example, the lighter and darker red of Max’s shirt)

There’s a tutorial on it here:

I’m using the ‘stroke/recolor’ method. (the semi-transparent black blob overlay method looks crappy to me…)

Here’s the problem - this works fine with ‘autotweened’ flash style animation, but with traditional animation there’s no way to see what you’re doing.

So far I’ve tried:

-Using the stroke tool on an inked & (flat) colored character to outline shadows, then recoloring the shadow regions. (as in the tutorial linked above)

This doesn’t work, because 0w strokes don’t show up in onion skins - at least as far as I can tell. I tried just eye-balling it, but that doesn’t work either (wobble wobble wobble)

-I tried making a new layer, and drawing the outlines of the shadows with the pencil tool, then selecting all the strokes, reducing their width to zero, and copying and pasting to the inked/colored character layer. This works, but it’s super time consuming. If there was a way to merge layers, or to perform batch operations on all the cells in a layer it might be better…

So, I’m stuck. I’m sure there’s a ‘standard’ way of doing this, but I can’t find any tutorials on it. Any suggestions?


Which exact version of the software are you using to get this done?

One thing I just tried which seems to work is to work with the stroke tool and have the Onion Skin setup to show outline only. This way you do actually see the strokes from the preview/next drawing in the onion skin. This outline option is found in the top menu View>Onion Skin>Show Outline on Onion Skin.

How that does the trick for you.

Best regards,


Thanks Ugo, you’re awesome! ;D

I’m using TBS Express 4.

"work with the stroke tool and have the Onion Skin setup to show outline only"

The ‘show outline only’ option works for the onion skins - but not for the current frame itself. So if the current frame has been painted (filled), the painting(fills) of the current frame cover up the onion skins of the future/past frames. (even in ‘show strokes - K’ mode)

So, this works if I draw the shadows before painting, but not after.

Is there any way to ‘show outline only’ for everything? (both onion skins and current frame?)

I could make a palette style that has all the colors fully transparent, but that’s kind of a ghetto way of doing it…

Also, is there a way to merge elements/layers? (like in photoshop)


I think in such case the best option would indeed be to create a palette style with everything in full transparency and use it to create your shadowlines. There currently is no way to only see outline on the current drawing other then having transparent lines and the stroke view active.

As for merging drawing, do you mean the compositing of multiple layer (basically addition of colours with specific effects) or simply taking the content of both layers and and adding them in a single layer. For the moment there is no automated way to do those but you could do a copy paste if the later is the one you are looking for. If you were looking for the compositing aspect you would have to get one of our higher end software to get those kinds of effects.

Best regards,