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Dinow's tutorials part 3: Dictionary! Commonly used words in skin making.

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DinowCookie's Avatar DinowCookie
Retired Moderator
Level 70 : Legendary Dinosaur
Welcome to the third part in my Minecraft skin making tutorial series. In this part I will discuss some words and terms commonly used among skin creators. If you're a beginner or intermediate skin creator, you might learn something from it. If you're an experienced skin creator, I doubt this tutorial will contain any words that are new to you.

Dinow's tutorials part 3: Dictionary! Commonly used words in skin making.


Blending is what happens when colors of parts on a skin look very similar, which causes viewers to be unable to tell which part is which. For example, if the character of the skin has blue hair, but also wears a blue sweater, you have to be clever with shades and highlights to prevent blending. In the example below you see a bad case of blending (left) and how it can be fixed with shades and highlights (right).

Dinow's tutorials part 3: Dictionary! Commonly used words in skin making.

Color palette

A color palette, is a set of colors which a skin artist works with to color and shade their skin. Usually a color palette is made on the invisible parts in the skin template, or in PMCskin3D's color palette feature. Depending on the technique you use, a color palette can consist of just 1 or up to any amount of swatches per color.

This is what a color palette can look like, the example has 6 swatches per color:

Dinow's tutorials part 3: Dictionary! Commonly used words in skin making.

A gradient is when shades of a color are placed in order from dark-to-light (or vice versa).

Dinow's tutorials part 3: Dictionary! Commonly used words in skin making.

Among skin creators, the term is also used to express shading looking like it is a gradient. In most cases, skins look better when this is avoided. The example below shows shading on legs, where the one has gradient shading (left), and the other doesn't (right).

Highlights are the brightest spots of color on a skin, which indicate light reflecting off the surface of the skin. Below you see the highlights in my example skin marked with pink outlines.


The HUE of a color is the place it has on the rainbow of colors. In PMCskin3D, HUE is defined by the ° value on the 360° color circle. As you can see in the image below, blue hues are around 230° on the color circle.

HUE-shifting is the practice of adjusting the HUE ° value per swatch on a color palette. It allows skin creators to make more vibrant and visually interesting looking skins. I will cover HUE-shifting more thoroughly in a future tutorial. For now, the example below should show the difference.

The first palette is one without HUE-shifting, the second is the same base color with HUE-shifting applied.

Jumps in HUE, saturation and value between each swatch in a palette refer to how big the difference is between each one. You can have big jumps or small jumps and everything in between. Experienced skin creators normally try to have jumps between the swatches for each color which seem equally as big to the eye.

In the example below you see:
1. Palette with very small jumps
2. Palette with very big jumps
3. Palette with very unbalanced jumps

Saturation (Sat)
Saturation of a color refers to the intensity of the color. Is it a very bright color, or a very dull color?

In the example below you see various color in 100% saturation, above their lower-saturation equivalents. Experienced skin creators normally avoid using colors that are very highly saturated, because it is easier on the eyes to use palettes with colors which are a bit more soft-looking.

Shading is the practice of adding shadows and highlights to your skin to add depth, definition and texture. It's an imitation of what light does in real life. Below you see an example of a not-shaded skin (left) versus when it is shaded (right).

Transparency is whether a color is see-through or not, and by how much. Unlike many other online editors, PMCskin3D allows you to adjust the the opacity of the brush color with a slider. Using a transparent brush allows you to paint over an existing color but not cover it entirely.

The example below shows the basic principle of what happens when you draw with a non-transparent pencil (left) versus when you use transparency (right). Red added to a white-shaded base.

Using a transparent brush, you can shade your entire skin! It can be a great technique and I apply it to my skins all the time. I will cover transparent pencil shading in a dedicated tutorial later.

The value of a color normally refers to how dark or light a color is. Therefore it's also referred to as darkness or lightness.

Wrapping is the practice of placing pixels of the exact same color around a corner of a skin. Skin creators like to do this to make the transitions on a skin look smooth, however it's a matter of preference whether you want to do it or not. It's hard to explain in words, so below you see an example of a skin's arm where pixels are not wrapped (left) versus the arm where the pixels are nicely wrapped (right).

Happy skin making!
I'm sure this list didn't cover everything and anything. I'll probably be adding some words to it in the future, but I do intend to keep it limited to the basic, most commonly used words to avoid it getting too long or complicated. Really missing something critical? Let me know in the comments below! If you're new to skin making, I hope this list of words taught you a thing or two. Happy skin making!

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I'm a Java / free Minecraft community supporter. I spend a lot of time hosting contests and events, creating content and helping people on PMC. Instead of having to pay for my content, you can choose to support me by donating. 😊


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06/12/2021 9:18 am
Level 42 : Master Pixel Puncher
_Blip_'s Avatar
Learned a lot!
06/12/2021 9:21 am
Level 70 : Legendary Dinosaur
DinowCookie's Avatar
Glad this helped! 😁
Blue Piranha
01/01/2021 9:26 pm
Level 38 : Artisan Vampire
Blue Piranha's Avatar
Ive been wondering what the opacity is used for, thanks for opening my eyes!
08/01/2020 10:15 pm
Level 41 : Master Botanist
Fqsh's Avatar
i learned something
04/28/2020 4:21 pm
Level 38 : Artisan Imposter
StaticNCogs's Avatar
I am new too skin making and my first skin looked horrible but now my skin doesn't look amazing but it is so much better than when I started so thank you so much.
04/28/2020 4:24 pm
Level 70 : Legendary Dinosaur
DinowCookie's Avatar
I'm glad you found my tutorial helpful! 😁 Keep making, you'll improve over time 💪
04/18/2020 12:18 pm
Level 32 : Artisan Waffle
RystaButAteASock's Avatar
How do you use color pallets? Does would be useful for me.
04/18/2020 1:49 pm
Level 70 : Legendary Dinosaur
DinowCookie's Avatar
Normally you make your own color palettes. In PMCskin3D you can use the tools available to save colors to your palette window. On other programs, most skin creators use the empty areas on the skin template to place their color palettes.

This tutorial is a great place to start if you want to learn how to make your own color palettes.
04/18/2020 1:51 pm
Level 32 : Artisan Waffle
RystaButAteASock's Avatar
Calendar Man
10/20/2018 8:37 pm
Level 44 : Master Sweetheart
Calendar Man's Avatar
Now that I know that the transparent pencil exists in PMCSkin3D, that explains how people on here make masterpieces in under half an hour.
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