So this is how I do it!
I believe the steps' sequence, and the notes, are quite self-explanatory. But there's a few more things I'd like to mention now.
First of all, I'm sure these ideas and techniques can be used with different graphic software. You only need to study closely what your software has to offer, and see how easily you can adapt the steps here to the available tools.
Okay, now... let's see
Zero because this step is mainly a pure formality. XD
It's not "real" coloring. Only setting the color layers, one at a time, and is the most boring part of the process. But maybe the most delicate and important. This is specially relevant when you work on files with about a hundred layers (like is usually the case with my more complex pictures), which is when you go nuts if you didn't make a tidy layers' setup from the start. So, keep an eye on those layers, and make sure you set enough of them.Naming them properly, and using some sort of logical order for them is always a plus. Remember that you can also keep them in groups.
About the pattern thing. Remember you can keep the secondary layer to the very end, so all the shading is simply done in the layer below. Specially important for clothes, with all their little folds and troubles.Later on, you only need to blend the "pattern" layer with the necessary mode - a darkening one, or not, depending on the kind of colors of the case. In my example here, since the base is white and the pattern has the pink stripes, I would use the Multiply mode or similar.
Everything here is quite linear. Pick your lighting direction (source) and try to decide your shading consistently with it; make sure it all feels natural to the eye, and don't just leave it as it is on your first try. But of course, don't stress it too much either. Sometimes, for artistic purposes (and self-enjoyment?), we can -and will- be a bit flexible with the shading on some areas. We want our drawing to look attractive, so let the interesting bits have an interesting shading, even if only from a soft light source from a corner. Or even an extra darker shadow, if it fits the case. Keep it creative.
Now's when the job starts requiring the more love from the artist. Countless strokes, constant sampling of color, and building up of details, bit by bit. Best advice I can give here: Know your hotkeys
. You'll see what I mean, once you are familiar with the most simple and start using them constantly. That lazy extra hand will get all toned up on the keyboard. ;3
Also, observe how the shadows from the closest parts are kept more edge-like, while the ones coming from distant parts are softened up. The will help giving your shading a nice variety of effects, pleasant to the eye -and more realistic, if done well. And it also comes to play for the "border" shadow of curved areas. Sometimes you will like to leave a border-shadow more edgy, giving special emphasis
to some parts.
And that's all for now, I think.
In the next steps we'll see how to give the skin that
fleshy touch we adore. : )