Drawing Cartoon Hit Effects in 4 Steps With Photoshop

In comics, video games, and manga, drawing cartoon hit effects are necessary pieces of artwork needed for action related scenes. This guide will go through the simple drawing steps to create a the direction of an impact source.

Generally speaking, Impacts can be broken down into these possible directions: spirals, splashes, straight directional, or curved explosions. Many cartoon hit effects will have a variation or a combination of these basic impacts.

While drawing cartoon hit effects can be done manually, Photoshop filters will play an intricate part in speeding up the process. However, it does require a bit of experimentation to get the right desired results.

Therefore, knowledge is required to draw in the initial pattern needed to create the right kind of impact for your drawing projects. The best initial setting is to use a hard round brush with the 'scattering' option turned to randomly paint in an area to be manipulated.

Drawing cartoon hit effects: spiral trails

The first type of area to manipulate would be a circle. Simple scatter the textures of the round brush in a circular area. Have brush dynamics turned on as well to give random sizes based on the pressure sensitivity of the digital drawing stylus.

The artist will control the amount of scattering as more dots will result in a thicker spiral formation afterwards. Through this shape, the spiral impact effect can be rendered using the 'twirl' filter in Photoshop. This is found under Filter > Distort > Twirl.

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Adjust the twirl angle as much as necessary to get the right amount of curvature. Once done, a clean spiral will emerge. This spiral is commonly used for impact that has an absorption effect.

This shape can also be used to indicate a weapon path. In Photoshop, create a layer mask over the completed spiral and the erase into it to form the curvature. Since it's a mask, the original pixels will be preserved. In addition, layer styles could be used to enhance this effect.

Drawing cartoon hit effects: the point of impact

The second type of effect is an omni-directional impact. This type of impact is used for blunt objects where force is centralized into one area. The resulting art will look like effect particles blown in all directions.

Just like the previous method, scatter a bunch of dots around a circumference. Try to leave the center clear of any dots. Unlike the previous effect, the filter used to generate this impact is different. Instead, go to Filter > Blur > Radial Blur.

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There are two different types of blurring options. The one that is most relevant is the 'zoom' method. Adjust the values as necessary and let the filter do all the work. The major drawback of this effect is that it doesn't give clear cartoon edges.

In order for that to happen, select an area using the magic wand or hit CTR + left click on the layer to lasso the object. From there, fill in a new area on a new layer. Adjust the new layer with layer styles (stroke, Inner glow, color overlay, gradient overlay, etc.) to create the desired cartoon effect.

Drawing cartoon hit effects: the directional impact

Impact that has a clear direction of force is arguably the most used. Sharp weapons, punches, kicks, or any type of objects used where force moves beyond the impact target will use this effect.

Drawing cartoon hit effects of this type borrows heavily from the previous section. This time, start with a few random dots scattered around a central point and have it fan out only in one direction.

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When it comes to rendering, use the same 'Radial Blur' filter. However, instead of centering the 'zoom' radial blur to the center, it can be moved into an offset position. This will require a bit of trial and error to get right.

Once that is done, sharpen the blurred lines using contrast and/or fill options. One method is to copy the layer and merge it together to thicken up the dark values. Other than that, be creative in continuing to use any layer styles or manual clean up to get the desired effect.

Drawing cartoon hit effects: explosive arc impacts

The last type of impact is typically the hardest to draw because it involves some physics through the introduction of gravity. The explosive impact uses multiple arcs to show the where the debris is headed.

For keep the concept as simple as possible, this drawing will only have one main arc. Also, rather than draw and filter in the effects, this part of the lesson will change previous impacts into a smart object that can be manipulated.

Starting with the directional impact, right click the layer and choose 'convert to smart object'. This option will prevent the layer from pixel editing (though layer styles, layer masking, and clipping masks are still possible) but allow it to change its fundamental shape without losing any of its original quality.

To create the arc, the option will be under Edit > Transform > Warp. There are other options available such as perspective, scale, skew, and distort. It's just that the warp option have several more complicated shapes to use.

On the ribbon, a drop down menu will have a number of presets to change the smart object. As expected, the 'Arc' preset is available. In this option, the range of the arc and direction can be adjusted.

Combined with other transform options, it will require some experimentation to get just the right effect, but it is worth the effort to learn this because of the amount of time it can save the artist. This concludes this guide on drawing cartoon hit effects. I hope you had fun learning about it and also hope that it will be of help to you!

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