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[Tutorial] How to shade skins!


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Retired Moderator
Level 65 : High Grandmaster Ninja
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.

All you need for this tutorial is Gimp! You can download it completely free from right here.

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.


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.


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


And finally, added highlights and lowlights in the hair.


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.


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.


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.


The finished skin!



-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!

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!


Comments : 90

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1 - 50 of 90

  • Tirdad
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • September 25, 2017, 3:01 am
Ok tnx I just don't needed it just wanted to try it.
  • Tirdad
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • September 15, 2017, 6:27 am
Please give me the direct link
  • Rakqoi
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Ninja
  • September 17, 2017, 1:29 am
What link are you looking for? The GIMP link is listed in the post. If you want a link to the skin, you can find it linked at the bottom of the post.
  • Tuckermarley
  • Level 6
  • Apprentice Architect
  • February 7, 2016, 10:23 am
How do you get all those options for Dodge / Burn? i cant see any of them, though, my "Tool options" box is undocked.
so basically you can shade your hair to move it to the side to see both eyes and then you can move your hair back in its normal position. Cause im using aphmaus latest skin from mystreets her new video of frozen outside or tthe other one and i want to move her hair to the side so i can see if it works, sense i play minecraft dairies modpack server and my eye is covered up with my hair, and its hard for my minecraft roleplay boyfriend to see it
  • ipuro
  • Level 22
  • Expert Architect
  • March 1, 2015, 8:36 am
  • iSteelersBoyZ
  • Level 10
  • Journeyman Fisherman
  • February 17, 2015, 9:46 am
200th Diamond!
  • 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
  • Rakqoi
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Ninja
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Rakqoi
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Ninja
  • 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.
  • Vibes
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 27, 2014, 11:07 am
Lol its fine :P

I guess we can end this convo here, Baii >.<
  • Vibes
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • December 27, 2014, 10:48 am
Oki I get it now :P
Sorry bud  >.<
THANK YOU SOOOOO FRIGGIN MUCH!!!! (lol now i know what dodge and burn does)
Finally going to make "good" skins now.
  • 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 :(
Thank you for this tutorial! It really helped! (:
This is one of the most confusing tutorials I've ever seen.
Agreed, is there one you've found simple?
  • Descripted
  • Level 25
  • 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.
  • k-crafter077
  • Level 29
  • Expert Pixel Puncher
  • December 17, 2013, 3:02 pm
  • 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!!!
  • G4M3 4DD1CT
  • Level 20
  • Expert Goblin
  • December 5, 2013, 2:31 pm
Somehow, all shading tutorials seem like rocket science to me...
  • Marker Juice
  • Level 2
  • Apprentice Artist
  • October 20, 2014, 2:42 pm
Same here!
  • Anxi
  • Level 29
  • Expert Artist
  • June 4, 2014, 2:57 am
well same here too!
Same here too!
  • WigglyPuff
  • Level 10
  • Journeyman Narwhal
  • January 13, 2015, 2:26 pm
Same here too!
  • Kingof100
  • Level 23
  • Expert Taco
  • November 9, 2013, 7:21 am
This was very useful
  • 1234560
  • Level 12
  • Journeyman Network
  • 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).
  • PPG
  • Level 30
  • Artisan Geek
  • May 28, 2013, 2:30 am
in gimp i cant how to get the mc skin palet how?
Can you make a skin that is transparent so people can do it on websites (instead of downloading gimp) like novaskin
  • Aptrotta
  • Level 6
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • May 7, 2013, 2:54 pm
That's really good. Going to use this on my next skin
This is really going to help me! Thanks!
  • Ludicrous
  • Site Moderator
  • Level 63
  • High Grandmaster Senpai
  • April 15, 2013, 6:22 am
Thank you. I hope my skins get better.
  • AppelPi
  • Level 3
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • March 23, 2013, 8:24 am
I'll...I'll TRY!!!
  • Alpha_Beta
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • February 13, 2013, 12:15 pm
Thanks, that really helped!
  • jjguy555
  • Level 16
  • 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
  • bandito7799
  • Level 4
  • Apprentice Miner
  • December 23, 2012, 8:28 pm
ok i downloaded gimp now how do i open the page
  • Monkay
  • Level 25
  • Expert Creeper
  • December 21, 2012, 6:01 pm
Thanks helped me alot
can u make a skin for me?
  • FocusLight
  • Level 30
  • Artisan Pixel Puncher
  • November 22, 2012, 6:03 pm
3 words:

Diamond for you! XD
  • Gibu
  • Level 48
  • Master Goblin
  • October 30, 2012, 10:54 pm
What brush size do you use?
  • starzz
  • Level 6
  • 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.
  • ExPk55
  • Level 8
  • Apprentice Architect
  • September 27, 2012, 2:30 pm
that was a good work!
thanks for helping!!
  • 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
  • Spyronicle
  • Level 18
  • 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*
  • Rakqoi
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Ninja
  • 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.
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

  • xunzhe
  • Level 4
  • 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!
how do you change it to Png
  • Rakqoi
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Ninja
  • 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.
Can i use this method with Paint.net? I can't afford any other program like photoshop.
  • Rakqoi
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 65
  • High Grandmaster Ninja
  • 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.
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...
  • -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!
  • janiekh
  • Level 20
  • Expert 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)

  • janiekh
  • Level 20
  • Expert Skinner
  • June 18, 2012, 4:10 am
thank you! (diamond)
  • 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?
Thanks so much! But the problem is that i have no ideas for skins... XD
Thanks man but the problem for me is ideas on what to make
  • Miner Mooror
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Engineer
  • 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 ;)
  • XDogzZ
  • Level 21
  • 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?
Thanks helped me a lot!
  • Greenbeans51
  • Level 14
  • Journeyman Archer
  • March 4, 2012, 3:27 am
Thanks so much!Now i cna finally move on from novice skins :)
  • TwebDude
  • Level 31
  • Artisan Caveman
  • March 3, 2012, 7:28 am
I used some of your tips to make my newest skin! Thanks!
  • MikeJ
  • Level 33
  • Artisan 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!
Diamond for you!
Thanks for the help.
  • Mayz
  • Level 46
  • Master Bunny
  • March 1, 2012, 9:01 pm
Helpful thanks
  • alienfreak
  • Level 31
  • Artisan Demolitionist
  • March 1, 2012, 3:26 pm
This is a lot like my method, good job.
  • GTTE
  • Level 2
  • Apprentice Crafter
  • March 1, 2012, 11:55 am
WOW you are really good at making skins! :)
  • Mr_DuDe2001
  • Level 39
  • 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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