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Shading- Basics and Artistic Tips

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Hybrid Warrior avatar Hybrid Warrior
Level 69 : High Grandmaster Warrior
The honest truth about learning how to shade doesn't involve a simple step by step method of adding gradation to a skin, nor is it to simply provide highlights and shadows.

What I see that a lot of people on PMC tend to do whenever they try to shade is they simply add gradation onto a skin. This isn't shading and will only serve to break the colors in your skin. Although the skin will look much better, ito s only an easy fix to o shadeo quickly. Io m not saying that thereo s anything wrong with it, but ito s much better looking when you properly shade in general. Of course, these techniques are applicable not only to minecraft skins, but in drawings in general. Instead of trying to look at a skin as a flat plane, try to picture an image of what youo re actually trying to create and represent in your skin. This method will allow you to produce a much more accurate and better looking product. Ultimately, youo ll need to understand some basic fundamentals when it comes to shading. Io ll go over these in simple steps, and then elaborate some more once the basic idea has been communicated.

A sphere.


One of the main problems with so called o HD skinso is that thereo s honestly no real source of light in the shading. What tends to happen is people simply add different variations of a color to create a false sense of dimension. Different tones of color is simply called o Valueo ; please keep this word in mind, as it will prove useful in further explanation of why ito s best to shade, not just add value.

The sphere illustrated above may seem familiar and a bit like Io m repeating what others have said in other shading tutorials. However, as opposed to simply using the sphere to demonstrate different methods of shading, and utilizing it as an example of what shading looks like, Io ll go ahead and properly walk you through the basics of what light does to an object, and what the proper terms are so you can easily familiarize yourself with these different aspects of lighto s effects on objects.

1- First and foremost, youo ll need to identify the source of light. The reason why this is the MOST important step in the process of shading is that you have to be CONSISTENT when you shade. If you depict a drawing and shade as if lighto s coming from the upper right side of the page, and then all of a sudden switch the light source halfway through the drawing, the image will look terrible and unrealistic in anyway. Identify the light source, and go off from that throughout the entire drawing.

2- Secondly, youo ll need to create the median tone of the object throughout the entire drawing. Dono t start from your brightest tone down to the darkest or darkest to lightest. Ultimately, the objecto s color/tone should be created first before light affects it.

3- Thirdly, you have to understand that light is a ray. It radiates from the light source and moves in a light from it. Because of this, any bump, edge, or anything that breaks the plane of light will then cast a shadow. Ito s a difficult concept to use constantly when you shade, but it will help you immensely if you get it down. As you see in the ball, once the widest edge of the ball starts to diminish behind it, the value of the light diminishes as well.

4- Fourthly, the core shadow. The core shadow is the darkest area in an object whenever light is cast on it. Light produces a core shadow in anything unless youo ve got some weird light sources or the lighto s coming from the direction of the o viewero of the drawing. Keep in mind that although this area is the darkest part of an object, it should NOT be black.

5- Fifthly, the reflected light. One of the most common mistakes in drawings that I see in peopleo s artwork is the lack of a reflected light. Light always reflects off of surfaces, and will create reflected light to bounce back onto the object as seen in the image above. Ito s vital to include this reflected light to fully give an image the feeling of it being full and solid.

Take this image for example; I've determined the light source to be the upper left hand of the page. You can tell because of the highlights o pointingo to the source; they will always do so. Furthermore, the change in value usually occurs when thereo s a plane break of the light. The abs and Pecs are good examples because they have a core shadow that appears whenever light reaches their edges. Finally, you can see the reflected light in various parts of the muscles, such as the pectoral muscles, abs, biceps, and reflexor muscles in the forearm.

These are just the basics when it comes to shading in general. If you have some questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

o Adding value isn't shading, shading is shading.o o David Shaffman.

"Art's not meant for expressing yourself. Do you honestly think the world's interested in how you feel when they're having feelings as well?"- David Shaffman.

"Every artist was first an amateur." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"A sincere artist is not one who makes a faithful attempt to put on to canvas what is in front of him, but one who tries to create something which is, in itself, a living thing."- William Dobell

"Believe it or not, i can actually draw."- Jean Michel Basquiat

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01/18/2013 8:39 am
Level 26 : Expert Archer
likeaboss9966 avatar
Dude........I never really thought of shading like this. it helped so much but i read this but could we put one highlight on like the head and go down? i put a highlight on every part of the body usually in the middle and im trying out new types of shading soon so i can make them fit different characters like Mario and storm troopers. thanks so much.
11/03/2012 4:19 pm
Level 28 : Expert Taco
Hawkeye999 avatar
You expect me to read all of this complicated long lasting non stoppable reading CRAP!!!!!!!!
11/03/2012 5:06 pm
Level 69 : High Grandmaster Warrior
Hybrid Warrior
Hybrid Warrior avatar
The reading isn't long for a literate person, and the complexity comes naturally with shading. You can go to a One two three shading guide, but they don't show you how to shade on your own, or even shade. They teach you how to make something lighter and darker to make it look round. This provides basic concepts that are known in the art world, and are used by real artists. If you take the time to read and understand, your skins will begin to look way better. Or you can just waste the resource and imitate others.
11/03/2012 5:12 pm
Level 28 : Expert Taco
Hawkeye999 avatar
.... Hey your actually right sorry for being a fool
11/03/2012 5:23 pm
Level 69 : High Grandmaster Warrior
Hybrid Warrior
Hybrid Warrior avatar
No problem. If you have any questions just ask
11/03/2012 8:32 pm
Level 28 : Expert Taco
Hawkeye999 avatar
Ok thanks
10/30/2012 9:47 pm
Level 49 : Master Slime Tamer
jm3977 avatar
This is very helpful :) You have earned a new Subbie =D
10/28/2012 12:25 am
Level 34 : Artisan Pixel Painter
BoogyBear avatar
In IRL I am a great artist, but doing some pixely artwork, I am kinda noobish, I am a good shader, but not as good as you, I find this very helpfull.
10/30/2012 8:56 pm
Level 49 : Master Vampire
The Great Soul
The Great Soul avatar
I am like that too!
11/21/2012 8:29 am
Level 30 : Artisan Unicorn
albsies avatar
Same here!
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