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Dinow's tutorials part 5: Human anatomy! Tips and tricks for shading humans skins.

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DinowCookie avatar DinowCookie
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Level 69 : High Grandmaster Dinosaur
Humans are logically the most chosen subject for Minecraft skin making and thus deserving of its own tutorial. The principles of shading as explained in the part 4 tutorial of course apply to human skins as well. If you didn't read that yet, I highly recommend that you do that first.

DinowCookie's skin tutorials part 5: Human anatomy! Tips and tricks for shading humans skins.

Learning by example

Just like in part 4, I am not going to give a step-by-step manual of which shade to place where. Instead, for this part of the tutorial series I will mostly work with examples. There are many human skins around which are a great example of how human anatomy can be translated to a 64 x 64 skin template!

Warning: Each of these examples have good and bad aspects. Don't copy their shading 1:1, just take inspiration and consider your own shading choices carefully.

This tutorial is about shading human anatomy. Please keep in mind that the outfit you apply to your human skins may require a whole different kind of shading than a bare human body. While tight clothes show the contours of a body really well, wide clothes don't.

Let's start, part by part...


The skins below show two anatomy base skins by quickysky, one male and one female. You can tell how they shaped the bodies by darkening and highlighting parts of the skin. I also included skins by LeafNode and Purrfectionist so that you can see the similarities and differences between these skins.

The skins show good examples of the following aspects about a human torso:
  • Darkening for the spine; the spine lays lower than the rest of your back and so it has more shadow.
  • Highlighting the shoulder blades and shading underneath them; they stick out and reflect light, shadow falls underneath.
  • Highlighting chest muscles/breasts and shading underneath them. Similar to shoulder blades.
  • Darkening the sides, and underneath the belly. The fatter the belly, the more shadow it casts. A flat belly barely casts shadow. You can also define stomach muscles by highlighting. Just consider how fat or muscular the person is.
  • Bellybutton!

Masculine or feminine?

There are obviously some differences between male and female bodies, and thus their shading too.

For masculine skins, muscles are generally more defined, shapes are more 'rectangular' and oftentimes the Steve model (4 px arms) is used. For female skins the shading is generally a bit softer and more rounded. Indication of an hourglass shape gives skins a more feminine feel (as shown in the skin by Purrfectionist) and most of the time the Alex model (3 px arms) is used.

Of course there are exceptions, there are softer looking boys and muscular girls but generally these are the principles that skin creators apply to make a skin more masculine or feminine.


Human faces on skins can be shaped in various ways. Everyone has their own preference. Various size or height for eyes, a mouth or not? Ears?

Here's what I do:
  • A highlight in the middle of the face, to indicate a nose.
  • Shading underneath the hairline, especially when the character has a fringe.
  • 2 x 2 pixel ears, around the same height as the eyes, sometimes sticking out on the second layer.
  • 1x2 mouth in a dark shade, sometimes with red or pink tint.
  • Highlight and sometimes blush the cheeks.
  • Darkening around the chin with shading to make the head look a bit more round.
The first example below shows my way, the other three are different varieties of face shading by other skin artists. Everyone has their own method. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you always consider why you place a shade or highlight.


Hair is a whole different story. How you shade hair very much depends on the texture, length and styling of the hair. The example skins below show different hairstyles which are shaded differently because of that.
  • Gothic has long hair falling straight down, with a fringe but also a separation of the hair on top (have a look in the previewer!). The hair has alternating shades and highlights vertically, starting from the separation on top of the head, indicating strands of hair.
  • Sheogorath has short hair that is combed backwards (see reference image on the skin page), as indicated by the highlights which are horizontal on this skin, rather than vertical.
  • Traditional Japanese Maiko has an intricate hairstyle of which some parts are combed sideways and other parts are combed upwards. You can tell from the reference image in the skin's description why I placed the highlights the way that I did.
  • Lastly a Remake skin which has a ponytail. The hair is combed backwards on the head as you can tell by shades and highlights, and then the ponytail falls downward from where the hair-tie is placed.


Tricky! Arms are the part on human skins I most often see weird shading on. Highlights all over the place that make no sense.. Aside from the back of the head, I think arms are my least favorite parts to shade. These are the things I learned to apply when shading arms:
  • Define armpits by darkening that area on the arm. You can see this applied to several of the above shown examples.
  • Show the elbows with a subtle shade/highlight combination in the middle of the arm. Be careful with this! Don't cut your arm in half.
  • Highlight on the shoulders and outmost parts of the arms, most of the light falls on there.
Same as with the torso, you can define muscles a bit more or a bit less depending on how masculine or feminine you want your skin to look.


My way of making hands is based on this tutorial from years ago by Leostereo. I've stolen this image from the tutorial which has helped me the most with figuring out my own way of making hands:

The only thing I personally dislike about Leo's way of making hands is that the pixels aren't wrapped. That's a personal preference. Generally, Leo's tutorial simply makes a lot of sense, there'd be no reason for me to explain it any differently. Other than looking at the tutorial, you can of course have a closer look at some of the above mentioned example skin's hands.


Lastly, legs. The arch enemy of many skin creators. Personally I've never had too much trouble shading legs. Here's what I do:

  • Darken between the legs, not all the way up, but up to the butt and torso.
  • Round butt? Add highlight!
  • Highlight knees, knees stick out.
  • Darken the knee cavity.
If you do the above mentioned things, your skin's legs should turn out alright. Some leg-samples*:

* I know a goblin isn't a human, I just had a hard time finding proper examples for this one.

That's all!

Hopefully this tutorial taught you a few new things about shading human skins. Take some time looking at the examples to understand why people shade human bodies in certain ways. Know some better examples? Please share them in the comments below! For some parts it was tricky to find good representative skins. If you miss anything, let me know as well and I might be able to add a few more tips.

Please diamond, favorite and consider donating if you enjoyed this tutorial!
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. 😊

CreditAll the skin makers I used as examples. Great skins guys!

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03/23/2021 2:36 pm
Level 46 : Master Strawberry
Theodoor avatar
sorry this is really hard to follow

Can you try making a video for it? and then post it here
04/29/2020 5:42 pm
Level 36 : Artisan Imposter
StaticNCogs avatar
I think this will really help my ability to shade my skins.
11/22/2019 9:23 pm
Level 34 : Artisan Button Pusher
LAKottke avatar
I couldn't follow along, I couldn't shade: Basically I'm trash, I need serious help
04/18/2020 12:23 pm
Level 32 : Artisan Waffle
CatUnicorn123 avatar
S a m e
08/09/2019 5:08 pm
Level 25 : Expert Artist
Carver_Craft avatar
This was very helpful thx Dinow
08/09/2019 5:14 pm
Level 69 : High Grandmaster Dinosaur
DinowCookie avatar
I'm glad you find it helpful. 😊 Let me know if you need any further support!
07/04/2019 10:18 pm
Level 28 : Expert Zombie
RockinReptite avatar
This tutorial has been a big help with creating my first ever skin. I was expecting to produce literal garbage, but thanks to this, I didn't. I mean, I didn't exactly make the best thing in the world, but I don't think it was terrible for a first time.
06/23/2019 3:32 am
Level 21 : Expert Geek
MrDementorFace avatar
This a great tutorial. I'm wondering what skin making site you use?
06/23/2019 9:41 am
Level 69 : High Grandmaster Dinosaur
DinowCookie avatar
I use PMCskin3D 😊
06/23/2019 12:02 pm
Level 21 : Expert Geek
MrDementorFace avatar
cool that's what I a use already thx
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