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[Tutorial] How to shade skins!

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RipClaw
Forum Moderator
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Guard
So browsing through the skins list, watching the comments on my rant, and just generally talking to novice skinners, their main issue is not even knowing where to start when they want to shade. So, here I've decided to share my method on shading which is, in my opinion, the most important part of a skin.

WHAT WILL YOU NEED?
All you need for this tutorial is Gimp! You can download it completely free from right here.
http://www.gimp.org/

LET'S GET STARTED!
Alright. We need a skin, right? Let's draw one out. No shading at all, yet, just the semi-limited palette. It helps to keep the colors simple for now.

Qjcynpng

Now we have our simple skin. This is the stage where most people (unfortunately) think it's done and upload it here. But nope, the skin's hardly started. Let's do a bit of shading now...
Take your dodge/burn tool (to get to it, click the little black bulb on a stick icon, or just press shift+D)
Set the "exposure" (it's a little slider bar) to around 50-70. That's what I use, set it to however much shading you want. Now, you can either click the little dodge bubble to switch to it, or the burn bubble to switch back. Dodging is making it lighter, burning is making it darker. Also set the "Range" depending on the brightness of your skin. "Shadows" is for dark skins, "Highlights" is for really light ones, and obviously, "Midtones" is for general/middle shade colors. I used midtones for this skin. For my Clone Trooper skin, I used "Highlights" since it's light.
Make it darker wherever shadows fall, around curves, and on the corners to make it look a bit more 3D. Use dodge to make it lighter wherever direct light shines and reflects. For example, highlights in hair, wrinkles in clothing, etc.
Here's the result of the first step of shading on my skin.

Mjmjpng

Here, I've added more shading on the corners.

vcbnspng

And finally, added highlights and lowlights in the hair.

OeuEpng

Alright. Now as you can see, the head looks much, much better than it did before. Now notice where I shaded at; around the hair line, the corners of each face (front, back, sides, top, etc.) to make it look a bit round, and then around the face. I used dodge and burn to make the eyes stand out more, to make the mouth look a bit better. Also notice how I made underneath the head darker, since it would be shaded.

Now I'm going to go ahead and shade the rest of it using the same technique.

Here's the leg finished. Notice how I made the wrinkles stand out; I made a lighter line, then a darker one under it. Also notice how I made the light shine on the right side of the front of the shoe.

VbXhpng

And the torso finished. Notice how I added the wrinkles again, a light line above a dark one. Also notice where I shaded along the lines of his tank top. Look at how I shaded the shirt that's untucked from the belt. (Also, I added the belt and loose shirt before I shaded it. I forgot to do that at first). Study the shading here.

nWaEppng

Now finally, the arms. This one was pretty simple. Notice how I made vertical lighter lines, then darker ones on the sides of the light ones. I did this to each of the 4 sides. It makes it look a bit more rounded, and keeps it from looking like a single, solid color.

mCYpng

The finished skin!

SiGUpng

fDZhpng

MORE TIPS! YAY!
-Don't use pure black or pure white while using the "midtones" range. You will have to change range to shade them.
-Think of how this would look in real life. Shade accordingly.
-Do not ever use bright or obnoxious colors. They're really annoying, and don't make a good skin.
-You can hold down Ctrl to instantly switch between dodge and burn. It really helps!
-Never use stolen skins, or even pieces of them.
This includes mob skins and steve skins, you steal them from Notch.
-People have different opinions. Personally, I like higher contrast with more shading, while others like less eminent shading. It's a matter of opinion, shade however much suits your own.

Here's the skin that you saw being made here!
http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/zombie-from-shading-tutorial/

Thanks for reading. If this helped you, return the favor and hit the diamond button! It's just one click, and you have nothing to lose! Help it get noticed so more people can learn how to shade!

-RipClaw
Tags:Skin, Shade, Shading, Shader, Dodge, Burn, Zombie, Tutorial

Comments : 85

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1 - 50 of 85

  • Mega_Plus
  • Level 15
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • March 1, 2015, 8:36 am
AMAZING !!!
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  • iSteelersBoyZ
  • Level 5
  • Apprentice Miner
  • February 17, 2015, 9:46 am
200th Diamond!
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  • Vibes
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 27, 2014, 7:31 am
Um well...tbh I think its way to much shading..xD
I wouldn't do this much shading, but I can predict that there would be a better skin for this kind of shading.
Like because it looks like theres noise coming out of it (Agreed with Sneeze7 :P)

Besides that, Pretty good tutorial (Still Helpful In Many Ways)
Baii :3

btw ik its been like 2 years after this tut was out and ik i responded quite late xD
Edit Reply Delete
  • RipClaw
  • Forum Moderator
  • Level 62
  • High Grandmaster Guard
  • December 27, 2014, 8:22 am
This tutorial is very old. irrelevant, and no longer represents my shading technique in the least. I already know what is wrong with this old technique, but I leave this tutorial up for legacy's sake. I have a newer tutorial out, though it too is getting old and no longer represents my technique.
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  • Vibes
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 27, 2014, 10:50 am
Btw, do you know any other good skin shading softwares besides Gimp and Paint.net?
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  • RipClaw
  • Forum Moderator
  • Level 62
  • High Grandmaster Guard
  • December 27, 2014, 10:55 am
No need to apologize, I thank you for the criticism.

I use exclusively Gimp for making skins to this day. I've hardly tried anything else since I'm quite happy and used to using Gimp, so I have no reason to switch. So I can't recommend anything else, sorry.
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  • Vibes
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 27, 2014, 11:07 am
Lol its fine :P

I guess we can end this convo here, Baii >.<
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  • Vibes
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 27, 2014, 10:48 am
Oki I get it now :P
Sorry bud  >.<
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THANK YOU SOOOOO FRIGGIN MUCH!!!! (lol now i know what dodge and burn does)
Finally going to make "good" skins now.
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  • rasor
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • June 28, 2014, 2:27 pm
I cant take the new shaded skin i made and upload it to minecraft :(
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Thank you for this tutorial! It really helped! (:
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This is one of the most confusing tutorials I've ever seen.
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  • EmeraldModule
  • Level 22
  • Expert Pixel Painter
  • May 24, 2014, 11:09 am
Agreed, is there one you've found simple?
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  • Descripted
  • Level 20
  • Expert Network
  • December 31, 2013, 5:35 pm
This looks really realistic. I mean, I wouldn't use it, but if you were making a skin for an adventure map or something, since they don't have to be perfect; i'd use this. nice.
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  • k-crafter077
  • Level 24
  • Expert Pixel Puncher
  • December 17, 2013, 3:02 pm
IMM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO CONFUSED?!?!?!?!?!
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  • ErnieRar3
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 14, 2013, 8:20 pm
nope I failed hard so confusing you need to like skype with me about it cuz it so confusing!!!
Edit Reply Delete
Try this tutorial out?
http://www.minecraftforum.net/topic/15409-tutorial-adding-shadows-and-texture-to-your-skin/
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  • G4M3 4DD1CT
  • Level 13
  • Journeyman Goblin
  • December 5, 2013, 2:31 pm
Somehow, all shading tutorials seem like rocket science to me...
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  • Bradly1345
  • Level 8
  • Apprentice Dolphin
  • October 20, 2014, 2:42 pm
Same
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Same here!
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well same here too!
Edit Reply Delete
Same here too!
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  • WigglyPuff
  • Level 7
  • Apprentice Narwhal
  • January 13, 2015, 2:26 pm
Same here too!
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  • Kingof100
  • Level 19
  • Journeyman Taco
  • November 9, 2013, 7:21 am
This was very useful
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  • CrashCraft66
  • Level 39
  • Artisan Enderdragon
  • October 17, 2013, 12:03 pm
This is a very useful tutorial, I was good at shading but wanted a different style.
More like Deadlox's new skin (I spoiled it but it's true).
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  • PPG
  • Level 26
  • Expert Geek
  • May 28, 2013, 2:30 am
in gimp i cant how to get the mc skin palet how?
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  • toddybear101
  • Level 1
  • New Pixel Puncher
  • May 26, 2013, 11:07 pm
Can you make a skin that is transparent so people can do it on websites (instead of downloading gimp) like novaskin
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  • Aptrotta
  • Level 4
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • May 7, 2013, 2:54 pm
That's really good. Going to use this on my next skin
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  • Wizardofdoom
  • Level 20
  • Expert Spleefer
  • April 23, 2013, 2:29 pm
This is really going to help me! Thanks!
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  • Ludicrous
  • Forum Moderator
  • Level 56
  • Grandmaster Senpai
  • April 15, 2013, 6:22 am
Thank you. I hope my skins get better.
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  • AppelPi
  • Level 2
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • March 23, 2013, 8:24 am
I'll...I'll TRY!!!
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  • Alpha_Beta
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • February 13, 2013, 12:15 pm
Thanks, that really helped!
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  • jjguy555
  • Level 14
  • Journeyman Dragonborn
  • January 27, 2013, 3:34 pm
I've been searching for an hour for a tutorial like this. One thing DIAMOND FO' YOU
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  • bandito7799
  • Level 3
  • Apprentice Miner
  • December 23, 2012, 8:28 pm
ok i downloaded gimp now how do i open the page
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  • Monkay
  • Level 23
  • Expert Creeper
  • December 21, 2012, 6:01 pm
Thanks helped me alot
Edit Reply Delete
can u make a skin for me?
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  • FocusLight
  • Level 30
  • Artisan Pixel Puncher
  • November 22, 2012, 6:03 pm
3 words:

Diamond for you! XD
Edit Reply Delete
  • Gibu
  • Level 39
  • Artisan Goblin
  • October 30, 2012, 10:54 pm
What brush size do you use?
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  • starzz
  • Level 3
  • Apprentice Skinner
  • October 1, 2012, 1:34 pm
sorry to sound like a noob but how do i change the range??? what do i click on to get to the part to make it highlight, midtones, etc.
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  • ExPk55
  • Level 6
  • Apprentice Architect
  • September 27, 2012, 2:30 pm
that was a good work!
thanks for helping!!
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  • litenex
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • August 7, 2012, 4:18 pm
very great tutorial it tought me how to shade within a few minutes diamond for u =D
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  • Spyronicle
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • July 26, 2012, 6:41 am
Wow this is an awesome tutorial. You should enter it in minetorials contest *if you haven't already*
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  • RipClaw
  • Forum Moderator
  • Level 62
  • High Grandmaster Guard
  • July 26, 2012, 6:59 am
This is an old one which isn't very good. My new one is much better, and I entered it in the contest. You can see the new tutorial via my profile.
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hey can u make a TUT of shading with paril's MCskin3D please i use that skinning program and i have NO idea how to shade with it here is the link to the MCskin3D

http://www.planetminecraft.com/mod/mcskin3d/
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  • xunzhe
  • Level 2
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • July 19, 2012, 2:07 am
Really awesome tutorial i can finaly start making some decent skins and by far i think ur tutorial is one of the best. Diamonds for u :D!
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  • Dave_the_Beast
  • Level 31
  • Artisan Creeper Hugger
  • July 11, 2012, 12:58 pm
Thankyou
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  • Dave_the_Beast
  • Level 31
  • Artisan Creeper Hugger
  • July 11, 2012, 8:27 am
how do you change it to Png
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  • RipClaw
  • Forum Moderator
  • Level 62
  • High Grandmaster Guard
  • July 11, 2012, 12:43 pm
If you're using the latest version of Gimp, instead of using save you need to use File>Export.
Edit Reply Delete
Can i use this method with Paint.net? I can't afford any other program like photoshop.
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  • RipClaw
  • Forum Moderator
  • Level 62
  • High Grandmaster Guard
  • June 27, 2012, 3:33 am
Gimp is a completely free program which is very, very similar to Photoshop. That's what I use for everything, even though I do have Photoshop Elements (a dumbed down version of it, I suppose).

Paint.net should work, although I haven't used it in many years. You can get Gimp at gimp.org though.
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I know Gimp is free, but my laptop is almost out of RAM so I cant download new programs.

I can't really figure out how to use paint.net to do this...
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  • -Caz-
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • June 24, 2012, 4:21 pm
Thank you very much! I've been needing a sufficient way to do this, and yours is one of the methods I use most. Thanks, yet again, and Diamond for this submission!
Edit Reply Delete
  • janiekh
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Skinner
  • June 18, 2012, 4:41 am
This is what i made thanks to you :)

(its not that good but, its better then the previous skins of me xD)

http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/dark-mage-in-black-robe-with-red-eyes/
Edit Reply Delete
  • janiekh
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Skinner
  • June 18, 2012, 4:10 am
thank you! (diamond)
Edit Reply Delete
  • Blobvis
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • May 17, 2012, 12:11 am
I actually created a skin that was based on a other skin 0.0
Is that really a problem?
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Thanks so much! But the problem is that i have no ideas for skins... XD
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Thanks man but the problem for me is ideas on what to make
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  • Miner Mooror
  • Level 16
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • May 23, 2012, 1:21 pm
Its easy to get ideas :D just make a "Skin Requests Here" post for the forums,and ppl will come. i did that and about 5 came to me almost instantly ;)
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  • XDogzZ
  • Level 20
  • Expert Skinner
  • March 12, 2012, 10:57 am
50-th DIAMOND! :D I havent ever done a skin so good but i dont have much time eather. If u could RipClaw then check out my other skins and say the things taht are wrong with em :P Subbed too. Ohh.. and how long did u draw the skin out?
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  • MoNzTeRzzz
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • March 4, 2012, 7:50 am
Thanks helped me a lot!
Edit Reply Delete
  • Greenbeans51
  • Level 11
  • Journeyman Archer
  • March 4, 2012, 3:27 am
Thanks so much!Now i cna finally move on from novice skins :)
Edit Reply Delete
  • TwebDude
  • Level 28
  • Expert Caveman
  • March 3, 2012, 7:28 am
I used some of your tips to make my newest skin! Thanks!
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  • MikeJ
  • Level 26
  • Expert Hunter
  • March 2, 2012, 6:24 pm
This is the result of my skin!
http://www.planetminecraft.com/skin/my-skin-with-some-shades/ Thanks! It worked! DIAMONDS TO YOU,GOOD MAN!
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Diamond for you!
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Thanks for the help.
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  • Mayz
  • Level 42
  • Master Bunny
  • March 1, 2012, 9:01 pm
Helpful thanks
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  • alienfreak
  • Level 28
  • Expert Demolitionist
  • March 1, 2012, 3:26 pm
This is a lot like my method, good job.
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  • GTTE
  • Level 1
  • New Crafter
  • March 1, 2012, 11:55 am
WOW you are really good at making skins! :)
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  • Mr_DuDe2001
  • Level 34
  • Artisan Dragonborn
  • March 1, 2012, 10:42 am
Hey Rip, i was just testing using 3 Shading tutorials and i made 3 skins that are the same and i shaded 1 of them using this tutorial. Btw this worked well.
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  • Evans
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 1
  • New Network
  • March 1, 2012, 4:02 am
Thanks so much, I've been needing to learn how to do this. Personally, this is my favorite style of shading.

- Dino
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  • hunter067
  • Level 9
  • Apprentice Skinner
  • February 29, 2012, 1:55 pm
I am testing your skin shading technique. I have made a sketch and am now currently working a new skin based on your instructions, I however am not completely sure if I like it or not though. Have a Diamond.

Edit: I finished it, but I think I need more practice.
Edit Reply Delete
  • Sneeze7
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 64
  • High Grandmaster Hero
  • February 29, 2012, 7:59 am
I dont want to be the pretentious douche here but heres a few things,

You over shaded way too much, the wrinkles make it look like noise on the skin but on the texture map it looked fine.

And on bottom head and body, left and right body, top body and leg and left arm and leg are supposed to fade in darker since it drops a shadow. Theres not light source coming from the necks and that shines mostly to the middle of the bottom head.

But this was an insanely good tutorial for people who arent advanced skinners. I diamonded because more people needs to see this. :)
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  • boykidthing
  • Level 26
  • Expert Architect
  • March 1, 2012, 11:41 am
I think he made a great tutorial
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  • Mr_DuDe2001
  • Level 34
  • Artisan Dragonborn
  • March 1, 2012, 10:32 am
Well, Sneeze i think i will have to try yours Shading tutorial too. I have 3 same skins and i will try diffrent shading on them.
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