How To Shade In Krita

Do you need help with how you can shade in Krita? We have got you covered. This article deep dives into how to add shadows and highlights on an object in Krita.

To add a shadow, choose the right brush and color. Moreover, you need to add mask layers for shadows and highlights. After adding the shadows and highlights, fix all the mistakes to give your image a cohesive look. 

To go further into all these steps, continue reading to learn. 

For help apart from this article, refer to this video:

Choose The Brush

The first thing you need to do is choose an adequate brush. To do so:

  1. Open a new file in which you want to make the image.
  2. In the tools panel on the left, choose the Brush Tool. 
  3. In the panel that displays on top, go to the Brush Selection option.
  4. In the window that opens, choose the brush you would like to use for shading. 

We recommend using an airbrush tool as it gives a soft effect to the shadows. 

Choose The Right Color For Shading

Often people use black to add shadows, but we are strictly against it. Below are some rules and tips you should adhere to get the best results. 

  1. Do not use black to shade because it will never give you the desired effect. 
  2. Instead, choose a slightly darker shade of the color you have your object in. 
  3. You can do this by using the color picker tool on the window’s right side. 
  4. Go to the color picker. On the triangle, move the circle a little upwards. 

Take your time here and find the perfect shade until you proceed. 

Create A Mask Layer

You do not want to shade over your object, making creating a separate mask layer important. This would also help when making fixes or tweaks so you do not accidentally erase the object. 

To create a mask layer:

  1. Go to the layers panel on the right side of your window. 
  2. Right-click on the layer with the object in it. In the drop-down menu, choose Group and then Quick Clipping Group.
  3. The mask layer will show up in the layers panel. 

Figure Out The Light Source

You need to figure out where the light comes from and where the shadow falls. 

Decide the direction from which the sun or the light source would fall on the object. 

You can create a new layer and then draw the light source to understand better how the highlights and shadows will work. 

Highlight The Area Where The Light Hits

There are no shadows without highlights. 

  1. To highlight the area where the light hits:
  2. Go to the color picker and choose the color lighter than the object’s color.
  3. You can move to the lower end of the triangle. 
  4. You can also choose a color that is close to yellow. 
  5. This depends on how much light you wish to show. 
  6. Once decided, go in with the brush lightly on the area where you want the light to hit. 
  7. When you are done with highlighting, go to the layers panel.
  8. Under Layers, look for a box that says Normal.
  9. Click on this, and from the drop-down menu, choose Overlay. 

This smooths out the shading. 

Make A Shadow 

Now let’s make a shadow. 

  1. Create a new mask layer for the shadow. 
  2. Please choose the color that we talked about in the second step.
  3. Using this dark color, repeatedly click at the bottom or in the direction where you wish to add the shadow. 
  4. From the tools panel, choose the group tool, which looks like a square with borders. 
  5. Now select the shadow.
  6. Press and hold the control or command key and drag the handles on the shadow sideways or downwards, depending on the direction. 
  7. This will make the shadow symmetrical.
  8. Now move it around to adjust according to your object. 
  9. Place it very close to the object. 
  10. Now reduce the Opacity from the Layers panel.

Then go to the box that says Normal, and in the drop-down menu, choose Overlay. 

Fix Mistakes

To end it fix any mistakes or errors that you see. 

  1. Select the layer on which you want to fix the mistake. 
  2. Go to this layer, select the Eraser tool, and lightly move it around the area of concern. 
  3. Change layers as you like.

You can add more shadows if you accidentally erased more than you needed to. 


Adding shadows can be tricky, but we have attempted to bring you the most basic technique with the easiest tools. You would not have to worry much about the tools but focus more on the technique of using the brush on the canvas.