How to make your drawings look 3 dimensional

A bit of 3D shading adds depth to your drawings and makes them look much more interesting.

Let's start with a simple elephant. To make him look more three dimensional we need to add some shadows. To do this you have to imagine the sun somewhere and then think about where the shadows would be.

flat elephant

If the sun is above and to the left of Eric's head, then his chin would be shaded by his trunk, so I have darkened the area below his mouth. I also darkened the bottom of the trunk. His ear shades a bit of his body and his feet have shade near the bottom.

3d elephant


You could go further and perhaps shade his belly too (I forgot to do that) but as you see it makes no difference if it is not totally accurate. A few bits of shading are all you need to give your cartoons a three dimensional feel.

A word about colours! Shadows are best done in a darker shade of whatever colour is underneath. So the shadows on my elephant are grey because the elephant is light grey. A purple chimpanzee would have darker purple shadows.

3d purple chimpanzee

see, I told you so!

Back to Eric the elephant, Here is what happens when we pretent the sun is shining behind him. Because he is facing away from the sun, his big ears act like a parasol and so his entire face is in shadow.

This simple technique of placing shadows on a cartoon adds an extra depth to your pictures. Try it for yourself.

Good luck and keep on cartooning.

brent windsor