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Shading Skins

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avatar forro34
Level 42 : Master Batman
Hello fellow skinners! (I do suppose you're a skinner, since you're reading this... :) )
A user (Choosler) has recently asked me how I shade my skins (He loved the shading on my last 2) and whether I could teach him. Now, I thought "Sure, but why only him?" and decided to spread my wisdom (lol) around the PMC community, since I keep hearing apprentice skinners moaning about their lack of shading abilities. So here is my skin-making tutorial with a special focus on shading!

SkinEdit, Gimp and this wonderful picture:

Step 1: Form and color
I always start with filling in the skin with solid color. I then add the clothing if there is any. The details like eyes, mouth, hair and accessories come last. During this whole time I keep comparing with the reference picture.
Now, when the form is finished and I'm sure that it won't change much (if at all), I save the skin and open it up with
Gimp. I also open the reference picture I'm using. Now, with the eyedropper tool I make sure I used the right colors.
(In my case, I missed the color of the claws/paws and made it much lighter and grayer than it actually is.)

Shape-png< At the end of Step 1

Step 2: Simple Shading
Simple shading is the best friend of new skinners, because it doesn't require any knowledge of anything (except maybe knowing how to right-click) and once you become familiar with it, it can do wonders for your skins.
First of all get hold of the dodge/burn tool in SkinEdit (it's that weird, burning, black spoon), click 'tool options' and slide the button a bit to the left. This is also possible with the GIMP counterpart (also looks like a black spoon). Now to get to what I mean by 'simple shading':
-Firstly, right-click a pixel to make it darker (burn it)
-Then click the pixel to the right, the one to the left and the first one again
-Now click 5 pixels in a row with your first one being in the middle
-Rinse and repeat as long as you want

This is also possible in many directions, not only left and right:


Now, you know how to shade! But now you may be asking yourself, "Where do I shade?".
What kind of a horrible person would I be if I didn't answer that question, right?
Well, when I start shading, I usually start with the legs and arms. The center pixels are almost always the two center ones on the top and bottom of the leg's (or arm's) "left" side:


For the bottoms of the feet, I just take the color of an adjacent pixel and make it a tad darker (burn again):


The exact same is done to the arms (except that they probably have different details), the pattern of the
shading is the same.

Part 2.1

I draw the knees and elbows by burning 2 pixels in the middle of the front part of the leg (or back part of the arm)and then dodging the 2 pixels above that. If I think you can barely see it, I add another
"layer" of shading (burn/dodge first pixels again and the ones next to them).


The only thing left, so that the legs/arms look realistically shaded, is the lighting on the muscles.
I dodge the whole center of the outer (right) part of the limb and then do some more simple lighting (like simple
shading, just that you don't right-click, but rather left-click). Here, I also took the time to highlight parts of the claws in order to make them reflect light.

So the arms are shaded, now it's time for the torso, my favorite part. :D

Part 2.2

I shade the chest by burning 4 pixels in the 4th/5th row, 2 pixels between the pairs. I dodge the area above that and then experiment looking at which version looks the best. Next, I burn the same shading pattern we used on the
legs onto the sides if the body. After that, I either make the whole stomach darker (muscular-skinny) or lighter
(chubby-seriously obese). In both cases, the lightest point is in the middle of the body (upper stomach).

For the back, I usually just make the spine by painting two columns: one dark, the other light. Then I dodge a bit of the upper part of the back.


Part 2.3

I start shading the head by burning the corners. Then, I dodge the top of the head and the central parts of the sides. At the end, I darken the bottom, making sure that it's darker than the sides of the head in all places they make contact. When I have details that would be on top of the skin in reality (in this skin's case the teeth) I burn the pixels just underneath it.
Here, I darkened the pixels under the teeth and the top pixels of the teeth, since the upper lip is "over" it:



Here's the final version of the skin so you can take another look at where and how I shaded:


RufusMoleRat_minecraft_skin-jpgView Rufus the Naked Mole Rat

Here are several examples of skins with my method of shading:
Sonny_minecraft_skin-jpgView Sonny
ReincarnationDemon_minecraft_skin-View The Reincarnation Demon

Diamonds are highly appreciated! Not for my own good, but for the community's! The more diamonds this blog gets, the more people can see it! :)

2 Update Logs

Update #2 : 05/27/2012 12:43:21 pmMay 27th, 2012

Added more content, finished the skin and replaced images with better ones. I am deeply sorry and ashamed that it took me four months to finish what I had started.

Comments : 85

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1 - 50 of 85

Can you help me shade my skin? I used it and totally failed,(and by that I mean all I did was burn all over the skin) if you can that would be awesome. Its a red hoodie with fire on it,I couldn't post a link. 3:
  • Emma179
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • December 24, 2012, 5:44 pm
Awesome.. This gets a diamond!
  • OpticBlades
  • Level 43
  • Master Narwhal
  • July 9, 2012, 3:35 pm
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • July 9, 2012, 9:48 pm
Thanks! :)
  • Swalezee
  • Level 36
  • Artisan Lumberjack
  • July 1, 2012, 10:46 am
This is great, I would reccomend it to anyone :P
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • July 1, 2012, 10:54 am
Thanks, glad I could help you! :D
can u mod
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • June 20, 2012, 3:27 pm
Thanks; yes, my English is quite near to perfection ;P but I'd rather not become anyone's Youtube partner because of one simple reason: I can be very undedicated to a cause at times... I wouldn't be reliable, like, at all! :/ And no, I cannot mod...
oh ok
hey by the way do u speak english couse im looking for a youtube partner
nice tutorial
  • Ceruleanfire
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Archer
  • June 14, 2012, 4:52 pm
that shading method is pretty intuitive, but personally, i like skins with less detail. I try to make the most of minecraft's pixelated art style whenever i can.
  • M0R0Z
  • Level 42
  • Master Engineer
  • June 5, 2012, 11:53 am
Now working on my first attempt with this shading
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • June 5, 2012, 11:57 am
I anticipate your success!
  • Bubulis59
  • Level 11
  • Journeyman Miner
  • May 27, 2012, 10:34 am
Nice job man. + you have helped to thousands of people in pmc + a diamond :)
  • gogocp
  • Level 12
  • Journeyman Nerd
  • April 5, 2012, 10:45 am
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • February 18, 2012, 6:08 am
A tutorial/guide for those that want to ask me whether I (or some other user) can shade their skin:

Step 1: Ask yourself these questions

"How much time would this person need to shade the damn thing?"

** "Do I want to post the skin on PMC or only use it in-game?"

"Would this person want to spend their time shading my skin if I can't even find the time to go over my request and correct it?"

"Wouldn't it be more profiting to do it myself and learn in the process?"

"Is this skin really worth this person's time?"

** "How will I 'pay' this person for their kindness, time and effort?"

** "Is the skin conceptually interesting and new?"

If the skin will be submitted to PMC:
** "How will I credit this person in the submission?"

Step 2: Answer the questions marked with stars (**) in your request.

That was my indirect rant... .[size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)]____.[/color][/size]
no i was just asking because u shaded my friends skin and i was just asking for a favor. you dont have to if you don't want to.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • February 19, 2012, 9:03 am
Yeah, I'll do it in a few days, this rant/guide was directed at people asking in the future. :) Count yourself as having slipped under the radar ;) :D
Send me your skin per PM.
thanks so much
oh here is the link to download form pmc (i don't know how to pm it to you)
hi can u please shade my skin. i really suck at it, and ur skins look amazing so i would be really happy if u did this for me please
  • micholoko
  • Level 23
  • Expert Mountaineer
  • February 16, 2012, 4:36 pm
can you shade my skin?
  • jacen78
  • Level 16
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • February 16, 2012, 7:04 am
Can you shade mine for me i cant do it right i keep screwing up and i dont know what im doing wrong it just looks bad -__-
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • February 16, 2012, 7:55 am
Well, if you tried it and you don't like the outcome... Either my technique doesn't always work, or you need more practice... Either way, I'd be glad to shade your skin to show you how I would do it :)

Send me the skin per PM and I'll work on it... I'll send it back tomorrow (maybe even later today!).
  • jacen78
  • Level 16
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • February 16, 2012, 4:35 pm
  • Bidoduff
  • Level 27
  • Expert Prince
  • February 13, 2012, 10:27 pm
thanks! i never even knew you could right-click using the black spoon! ;D
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • February 14, 2012, 8:03 am
I know! I found out about this function on like the 2nd week of using SkinEdit! :D
Wow...now I know how to shade better..yayzors! Thanks alot Forro!
  • Pixelated_88
  • Level 34
  • Artisan Dragonborn
  • February 1, 2012, 5:25 am
Wow great tutorial. I might have to go back and add shading to my skins now that I now how to do it right. Before I just added some random lighter and darker areas and it looked like crap. Thanks!
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • February 1, 2012, 5:45 am
Glad to have helped! I look forward to seeing some of your new skins :)
  • bob99
  • Level 40
  • Master Nether Knight
  • January 18, 2012, 10:52 am
I have very similar goals
  • APH24
  • Level 55
  • Grandmaster Programmer
  • January 17, 2012, 10:47 am
Naked mole rat lol! Diamond just for that xD
  • Lunaqua
  • Level 61
  • High Grandmaster Pixel Painter
  • January 17, 2012, 9:36 am
All skins need more accent lines.

Very helpful.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 17, 2012, 9:46 am
Possibly. I'm not saying this is the only right method, almost everyone has his own :)
  • RoughSpirit
  • Level 20
  • Expert Explorer
  • January 17, 2012, 6:51 am
Hmmm, I've seen these pics and the exact tutorial from another blog...
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 17, 2012, 6:55 am
Hmmm... That's strange, because I'm the one who made all of it...
Could you show me the other tutorial, please?
  • blk7299
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Architect
  • January 17, 2012, 3:12 am
Thanks for this awsome tutor!!! I <3 it!!!
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 17, 2012, 3:21 am
Why don't you give it a diamond so that other skinners can learn from this too? :D
  • blk7299
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Architect
  • January 17, 2012, 5:38 am
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 17, 2012, 6:34 am
Hah, ok..!
  • iToto
  • Level 3
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • January 16, 2012, 4:12 pm
My ONLY problem is, I use SkinEdit Alpha, Like you.. *I suppose* but the preview is broken. I've tried removing it and re-intstalling but nothing happend. Help...?
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 7:21 pm
Yeah, I had that problem too... I just re-downloaded SkinEdit and clicked the link that comes up... If you're on a PC, you can also use MCSkin3D.
  • iToto
  • Level 3
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • January 16, 2012, 7:34 pm
Thank you! I removed it. I am offically on MCSkin3D. :D
  • Happybandaid
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 41
  • Master Scribe
  • January 16, 2012, 3:13 pm
Thank you, sir!
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 7:18 pm
You're welcome!
  • Tmold16
  • Level 26
  • Expert Architect
  • January 16, 2012, 11:38 am
someone has artistic background, good techniques! hopefully this will help alot of aspiring skinners
  • Beast
  • Level 48
  • Master Pixel Puncher
  • January 16, 2012, 9:23 am
I still don't really get how but I guess it helps! :)
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 10:29 am
You[color=rgb(51,51,51)] don't[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] get[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] how[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] to[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] shade?[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]Well,[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] let's[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] say[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] we[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] have[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 7[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] pixels[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] in[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] a[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] row:[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]You[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] take[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] burn[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] tool[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] and[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] click[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] on[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] middle[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] pixel[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] (number[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 4),[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] making[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] it[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]darker.[/color] [color=rgb(51,51,51)]That's[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 'layer[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 1'.[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]Next,[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] for[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] second[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] layer,[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] you[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] click[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] pixels[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] next[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] to[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] it[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] and[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] first[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] one[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]again[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] (3,4[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] and[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 5[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)]).[/color] [color=rgb(51,51,51)]Now,[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] you[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] have[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 3[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] pixels[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] darker[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] than[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] rest[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] (the[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]middle[/color] [color=rgb(51,51,51)]one[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] being[/color] [color=rgb(51,51,51)]darkest).[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] That's[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] layer[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 2.[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]You[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] can[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] keep[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] adding[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] layers[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] (always[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] coloring[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] 1[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] more[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] pixel[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] to[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] right[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] and[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]1[/color] [color=rgb(51,51,51)]to[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] left)[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] until[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] your[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] shadow[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] is[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] the[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] appropriate[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] size.[/color]

Is[color=rgb(51,51,51)] this[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] what[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] you[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] meant?[/color]
  • Beast
  • Level 48
  • Master Pixel Puncher
  • January 16, 2012, 3:23 pm
Oh now I think I'm getting it.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 7:18 pm
  • antiman234
  • Level 2
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • January 16, 2012, 8:13 am
Thanks man
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 8:21 am
You're[color=rgb(51,51,51)] welcome!...[/color]
[color=rgb(51,51,51)]Now[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] give[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] it[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] a[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] diamond[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] }8O[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] XD[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)] kidd[/color][color=rgb(51,51,51)]ing...[/color]
  • IamIBAM
  • Level 22
  • Expert Narwhal
  • January 16, 2012, 6:22 am
Good to see you sharing your skinning knowledge forro, I'm sure there will be plenty of people who will be helped by this.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 6:33 am
I'm proud to have raised the community skin-quality level :D
  • Arkee777
  • Level 1
  • New Wolf Whisperer
  • January 16, 2012, 5:39 am
Helps :)
  • DrThresh
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 15, 2012, 10:25 pm
Very indepth tutorial. New skinners should take these techniques to heart.

Approved! *thumbs up*
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 16, 2012, 1:07 am
Yea, lead everyone here if they have problems with shading! :D
Could you check out my last 2 skins? I don't use this method but I think mine are okay, I use minershoes.com...really easy to use and has a shading tool.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 15, 2012, 7:27 pm
I checked out your skins and commented on one describing both.
SkinEdit is really useful and easy to use, MCSkin3D is too, but i can't use it since I'm on a mac :D
There's a link to SkinEdit under "Materials"
  • Thedanyman
  • Level 49
  • Master Pixel Painter
  • January 15, 2012, 6:43 pm
Yes that is true but minershoes.com isn't the best way to make skins, I would try using Gimp or what they are using MCSkinEdit 3D(just use the program he uses) because its so much easier. Just trying to help :D
I have MCSkin3D and find that minershoes.com is easier for me. I also have MCSkinEdit and still, minershoes seems to be the easiest for me.
  • MrFang
  • Level 61
  • High Grandmaster Hero
  • January 16, 2012, 6:11 am
Easiest yet it has the worst quality. You'll see... Someday
So you just use the burn tool in gimp and get progressively darker. Ill have to try that. I make skins but the shading i do is the random lighter and darker colors, so it looks like the Steve skins._thanks this really helps.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 15, 2012, 6:32 pm
Actually I use the burn tool in McSkinEdit, but you can also use the one in gimp if you click "hard edge" and lower the opacity (in the tool window). That's how I started too :D
Thanks, i know how to use photoshop but i dont have $700 to buy it for myself so i downloaded the next best thing.
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 17, 2012, 11:44 am
Yeah,[size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] I[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] don't[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] get[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] the[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] price[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] tag[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] on[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] the[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] photoshop[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] products...[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] :/[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] I[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] mean,[/color][/size]
[size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)]it's[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] not[/color][/size] [size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)]THAT[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] much[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] better[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] than[/color][/size][size=12px][color=rgb(37,37,37)] gimp![/color][/size]
  • Thedanyman
  • Level 49
  • Master Pixel Painter
  • January 15, 2012, 12:50 pm
:D I'm so glad you put more detail on! :D Good job, hope this gets front page :)
  • forro34
  • Level 42
  • Master Batman
  • January 15, 2012, 6:35 pm
So do, so do I... :D It has been seen by many skinners already...
  • Thedanyman
  • Level 49
  • Master Pixel Painter
  • January 15, 2012, 6:40 pm
:D yay I'm so glad cause now we can get better skins on PMC (hopefully....) I'm just so tired of seeing bad skins pushing the good skins out the way, like today i just recently posted a great swiftblade skin and it got moved pages away cause of stupid skins that just look plainly bad. But anyways good blog so far, hope it helps loads of people, also do you think i should start a rant on bad skins?

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