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Tutorial: Palettes and Hue Shifting

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avatar the_soup
Retired Moderator
Level 69 : High Grandmaster Button Pusher
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Palettes and hue shifting. These two simple things are absolutely necessary for making your skins look professional. Would you believe, then, that most skinners have no idea how to do these? Well, it's time for that to change. In this blog, I will be teaching you the basics of creating palettes and hue shifting. I will be using MCSkin3D for my examples, but the concepts can still apply if you are using programs like Paint.NET, GIMP Photoshop. If you are using a browser-based skin creators like MNCS, Skincraft, etc, I HIGHLY recommend upgrading to MCSkin3D. Anyway, onto our first topic: palettes.

Palettes
To put it very simply, palettes are 'lists' of colors that you will be using for coloring and shading your skins (see an example here). Effective palettes will greatly enhance the color harmony and shading depth of your skins, so knowing how to create them is extremely important. To begin to craft your palette, you should select a base color and then go to the HSVA tab of the MCSkin3D color wheel gui:

rLQnpng
Here, I've selected a base color with a hue (H) of 0, a saturation (S) of 80 and a value (V) of 80. To put it simply, hue is the color, saturation is the amount of white in that color, and value is the amount of black in that color. Now, I will begin to create my palette of shades and highlights around that base color.

There are many ways to create your palette, and I will demonstrate them. First, I will show what a palette looks like if you ONLY adjust the value:
OSEsbpng
Here, you can see what shading using ONLY differences in value looks like, with the palette I used on the left. As you can see, the shadows look alright but the highlights look oddly bright and saturated. Additionally, things shaded this way tend to look 'dirty' or like they've been 'smudged with charcoal'. Clearly, we need another way to shade.

Next, I will show you what a palette looks like if you ONLY adjust the saturation level:
orWtFpng
This one looks odd as well. The shadows look flat, and the whole thing looks very unnatural.

Interestingly, while these two examples use the exact same base color, the differences in palette create very different effects. While these might be useful in certain limited circumstances, to create natural shading we need to move on to the next step: combining saturation and value adjustments.

In this palette, I have adjusted BOTH the saturation and value. Specifically, the shadows have had their value adjusted higher (a higher number) and their saturated adjusted lower (a lower number), while the highlights have had their value adjusted lower and their saturation adjusted higher. To put that in different words, the shadows are more saturated and darker, while the highlights are less saturated and lighter. Here's what the end product looks like:
MgMpng
Ah, now that looks better. The shadows have depth, and the highlights are not oddly bright. By combining both changes in value and saturation, you can create palettes that will produce realistic shading.

Hue Shifting
Now that you understand what value and saturation are, it's time to move onto the next topic: hue shifting. If you're like me, you're looking at the last palette example and thinking: 'While that looks nice and all, isn't it still a bit bland and boring?' Well, you'd be right. The examples given thus far have had no adjustments made to their hue. To put it another way, we've been adjusting the value and saturation, but haven't yet touched the hue slider. To make good palettes, though, it's important that we explore what hue can do.

In this example, I have adjusted value, saturation AND hue. Specifically, I have shades get more purple as they get darker, and more orange as they get lighter.
tktpng
This palette is the best yet. It has depth like the previous one, and the hue shifting makes the color look much less bland and boring. When creating your palettes, you should strive to integrate changes in value, saturation and hue.

Knowing how to hue shift colors requires a basic understanding of the color wheel. To illustrate this, I have created examples of hue shifting for multiple colors as a guide. These aren't by any means perfect, but they will illustrate how to hue shift each color.
uCHpng

Red: If your base is red, colors should get more magenta (purple) as they get darker and more orange as they get lighter

Orange: If your base is orange, colors should get redder as they get darker and yellower as they get lighter.

Yellow: If your base is yellow, colors should get more orange as they get darker. Colors should not get green as they get lighter, though. Instead, they should get purer yellow.

Green: If your base is green, colors should get more cyan (blue) as they get darker and more yellow as they get lighter.

Cyan (light blue): If your base is cyan, colors should get more blue as they get darker and more green as they get lighter.

Blue: If your base color is blue, colors should get more violet as they get darker and more cyan as they get lighter.

Magenta (purple): If your base color is magenta, colors should get more violet as they get darker and more red as they get lighter.

REMINDER: These are very basic guidelines to hue shifting, and it's quite possible to use other colors than those listed above. For example, if I was making a skin that was predominantly blue, green and yellow, I would hue shift the yellow towards green (instead of what's listed above, orange). Keep things like color harmony in mind when deciding how to hue shift.

As mentioned previously, this is by no means a perfect example. For instance, I still have not found an effective way to hue shift brown tones. That being said, an understanding of hue shifting is very important to making professional-looking skins.

Conclusion
Spending time and putting effort into creating your palettes is one of the best ways to ensure your skin turns out well. The best palettes include adjustments in value, saturation and hue. While this might seem like a lot of effort, with practice it becomes very easy to create basic palettes that fulfill all these requirements. With practice, too, you will learn how to create specific effects using these techniques. For example, skins with a high degree of saturation and hue-shifting will look cartoon-y, while skins with lower saturation and lighter hue shifting will look more natural. Experimenting with creating different palettes is a great way to increase your skinning skill.
Tags

1 Update Logs

Update #1 : 10/14/2012 3:31:54 pmOct 14th, 2012

added 'reminder' in hue shifting section

Comments : 189

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1 - 50 of 189

  • OdeToSoul_
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • May 14, 2017, 9:30 am
bruh, this helped way too much! thank u
  • Novissia
  • Level 13
  • Journeyman Skinner
  • December 16, 2016, 3:11 pm
I still love to come back to this post every now and then <3
  • ASkinForYou
  • Level 10
  • Journeyman Warrior
  • November 13, 2015, 4:54 am
Holy cow! I will never be the same shader after this! Thank you soooo much!
  • Gorvell
  • Level 1
  • New Grump
  • October 16, 2015, 10:47 am
Soooooooo freakkiinnnng helpfull thank you ;DD
This helped so much! Thank you!
  • FrozenFL
  • Level 38
  • Artisan Pixel Painter
  • September 2, 2015, 6:20 pm
Thank You. This will help me alot now when making skins. :3 XD now i just got to get better at Shading.
  • Michichi_10
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • August 10, 2015, 1:12 am
Thanks! It's really helpful! :D
  • ureshiii
  • Level 33
  • Artisan Magical Boy
  • June 29, 2015, 3:54 pm
BOok marking
  • Ceivii
  • Level 7
  • Apprentice Artist
  • September 12, 2015, 7:17 pm
I understand the world now after reading 2 pallete blogs :oo
  • Faduli
  • Level 5
  • Apprentice Skinner
  • February 25, 2015, 2:10 pm
I use

MCSKINS 3D

What number should I put the colors on (S & V)

What number should I start with and how much lower should I get?
  • Marissa_Frost
  • Level 25
  • Expert Dragonborn
  • February 13, 2015, 3:38 pm
This is really helpful! Thanks :D
  • Ainzo123
  • Level 39
  • Artisan Skinner
  • January 25, 2015, 8:13 pm
I've found that shifting brown so it gets redder as it gets darker often looks good
  • Rupsyke
  • Level 47
  • Master Grump
  • October 14, 2014, 3:22 pm
Really helpful!
  • Ashfur4ever
  • Level 26
  • Expert Artist
  • September 18, 2014, 2:49 pm
Thanks! I've been looking int skining for some time now! ^-^
  • Flaming Apple
  • Level 2
  • Apprentice Network
  • September 18, 2014, 2:43 pm
So thats why my skin goes from green to cyan! Even though that makes it look better thanks for letting me know. <3
  • Altaria
  • Level 35
  • Artisan Botanist
  • August 22, 2014, 7:57 am
Helped so much!
  • BZero333
  • Level 6
  • Apprentice Skinner
  • July 30, 2014, 6:17 pm
Very helpful
  • pixy
  • Level 24
  • Expert Unicorn
  • June 10, 2014, 11:52 am
This helped so much. Thanks!
  • kamafr
  • Level 31
  • Artisan Nerd
  • June 8, 2014, 10:58 am
That is absolutely incredible, I made a shading tutorial but now I feel dumb not putting something like that in. Do you mind if I put a link to your tutorial in my blog? thanks!
  • Reec3ty
  • Level 6
  • Apprentice Programmer
  • June 4, 2014, 7:50 pm
Hue hue hue.
  • Kotonlee
  • Level 15
  • Journeyman Dolphin
  • May 15, 2014, 6:54 pm
this is great! you earned a new sub! :D
  • Aerologix
  • Level 9
  • Apprentice Modder
  • May 3, 2014, 7:05 pm
Wonderful.
  • K1NGxMC
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • March 1, 2014, 4:48 am
Thanks so much! I finally understand hue shifting and saturation and values!!
  • nightmayer19
  • Level 38
  • Artisan Scribe
  • December 16, 2013, 3:01 pm
Ohmigod I love you. Thank you! This is a great tutorial for newbs like me!!! ; ^; Diamond, fav'd, and subb'd!
  • Descripted
  • Level 26
  • Expert Network
  • November 11, 2013, 4:00 pm
I know this doesn't exactly fit with the forum -- But Is there a way to zoom In on mcskin3D?

And thanks, I used to be using paint.net and it was very hard to hue-shift on that.
  • the_soup
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 69
  • High Grandmaster Button Pusher
  • November 11, 2013, 4:02 pm
Use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out.
  • Descripted
  • Level 26
  • Expert Network
  • November 11, 2013, 4:04 pm
Thank you.
  • Jeanine
  • Level 7
  • Apprentice Explorer
  • October 30, 2013, 9:50 am
what about white and black? Just asking.
  • PokeNet
  • Level 1
  • New Explorer
  • October 9, 2013, 3:29 am
Thank you, that palette will come in handy ;)
  • RexxReaper
  • Level 28
  • Expert Lumberjack
  • August 15, 2013, 2:32 pm
What would be a good program to you this without spending money and using a mac/apple laptop?

:I
  • solemnote
  • Level 29
  • Expert Skinner
  • August 15, 2013, 6:11 pm
  • RexxReaper
  • Level 28
  • Expert Lumberjack
  • August 15, 2013, 7:40 pm
Last time I checked it was
only for Windows/Pc's!

:o
  • solemnote
  • Level 29
  • Expert Skinner
  • August 15, 2013, 8:22 pm
oh ._.

I thought it was for Mac... But oh well :/
I tried at least
  • RexxReaper
  • Level 28
  • Expert Lumberjack
  • August 15, 2013, 8:37 pm
So it's not?

D:

NUUUU!!! D:
  • solemnote
  • Level 29
  • Expert Skinner
  • August 16, 2013, 10:14 am
I just read that Mac/Linux is still in progress ._.
  • RexxReaper
  • Level 28
  • Expert Lumberjack
  • August 16, 2013, 11:44 am
Fucking awesome. .o.
  • narutosao
  • Level 1
  • New Miner
  • June 17, 2014, 10:38 pm
You can use this program called wineglass it worked for me.
  • jum
  • Level 1
  • New Network
  • July 5, 2013, 3:24 am
Yeah, I've been stuck on how to shade white/much lighter colors.
Please may I have some help?
  • the_soup
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 69
  • High Grandmaster Button Pusher
  • July 5, 2013, 3:05 pm
Well, if I were shading white, I would consider the overall color scheme around it. Here are a few examples: If I were making a skin with many dark warm colors like browns or red, I would hueshift the white towards a dark warm color, probably brown. If I was making a skin with many cool colors I'd hueshift the white towards a cool color, probably a grey-blue. This skin, for example, has a lot of cool blue in it, so Leostereo incorporates the blue color into the shading of the white color. This skin is made with warmer colors, so Leo shades the white color with a grey-brown color, instead of a pure grey color which would look too cool.

If I'm shading, say, a green shirt with white stripes, to make it look unified I'll just hue-shift the white stripes with a dark green-grey color. I did that, only in red, in this skin.
  • jum
  • Level 1
  • New Network
  • July 8, 2013, 4:07 am
Thank you so much! This has really helped me out and I appreciate that you took a long time to write that out. Thanks again, and god bless you! [Meaning your very helpful and every single time you make a skin you produce another amazing skin to add to your wonderful collection].
  • Squirrels
  • Level 48
  • Master Toast
  • June 19, 2013, 7:08 pm
How do you make a white pallete?
  • Aerologix
  • Level 9
  • Apprentice Modder
  • May 3, 2014, 7:07 pm
To put it simply, I would pick a color between the lightest white, and the darkest shade close to white, and use the techniques in this blog.
  • Squirrels
  • Level 48
  • Master Toast
  • June 13, 2013, 1:34 pm
Thank you so much for making this. For teching me this Im gonna win a skin battle :D
This was vary useful!
  • RedGlock
  • Level 17
  • Journeyman Taco
  • May 12, 2013, 8:02 am
This is absolutely brilliant!
  • Punkamoar
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 50
  • Grandmaster Gent
  • May 12, 2013, 5:35 am
how do you use the color palette? is there a give color key in MCSkin3D?
  • the_soup
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 69
  • High Grandmaster Button Pusher
  • May 12, 2013, 10:45 am
Use the eyedropper and the hue slider.
  • Punkamoar
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 50
  • Grandmaster Gent
  • May 12, 2013, 11:03 am
that is what i needed to hear, THANK YOU SO MUCH!
  • dunkey4
  • Level 45
  • Master Turtle
  • April 22, 2013, 4:34 pm
do u know how to change the HSVA on GIMP for mac
  • nathor75
  • Level 1
  • New Pegasus
  • April 17, 2013, 8:47 am
Oh my god - Thank you so much!! This have saved my life!! I can't wait to create expert looking skins from the knowledge I've picked up here!
My question is where do u put ur palette to access it?
Somewhere where it won't appear on the skin. For example. I put my pallets in the space between the head and helmet areas.
This will help. Thanks
  • Dragonite_
  • Level 24
  • Expert Dragon
  • March 17, 2013, 1:19 pm
I think when hue shifting browns, I think it works well to do it like oranges, getting redder as you get darker, and yellower as you get lighter
Err..I sorta read only 1 sentence cause I am to lazy
sooo...i make skins in like 2-3 hours so if i use this method...it'll probally take me like 3-6 hours...whew!
  • jl70l7u
  • Level 45
  • Master Pixel Painter
  • February 9, 2013, 2:21 pm
117th Diamond! (Spartan 117)
  • Teckhe
  • Level 26
  • Expert Unicorn
  • February 7, 2013, 8:27 am
Being Colour Blind And Making Skins Is Hard...
  • spike43884
  • Level 23
  • Expert Taco
  • February 3, 2013, 5:39 am
O.o
IMPORTANT!
when doing the actual skin of the person if its meant to be realistic dont change the hue or every 3 shades change hue by 1 or it goes wrong
  • spike43884
  • Level 23
  • Expert Taco
  • February 3, 2013, 5:08 am
Oh i get ya...i will have to see how this looks on my more 'Controversial' way of skinning
  • shinysword
  • Level 30
  • Artisan Spider Rider
  • January 13, 2013, 6:29 pm
Just going back an reviewing this tut do you have any tips on what levels to have Hue, Saturation, Value, what values I should shift it at, I'm have trouble shading orange.
  • kenshin_0814
  • Level 37
  • Artisan Pixel Puncher
  • December 31, 2012, 3:43 am
Hey man or woman ? How do you hue shift White ?
  • the_soup
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 69
  • High Grandmaster Button Pusher
  • December 31, 2012, 6:00 am
I'd say white should either get more grey/blue as it gets darker or get more beige/brown. Look at the white portions of these skins for examples:
www.planetminecraft.com/skin/steampunk-miner-edit-of-my-gangster-skin/
www.planetminecraft.com/skin/santa-claus-1774656/
www.planetminecraft.com/skin/ezio---skin-battle-vs-lantosyt/
101 favorite and a diamond :3
  • Roslina
  • Level 40
  • Master Musician
  • December 30, 2012, 8:03 am
100th favourite! :D
  • dunkey4
  • Level 45
  • Master Turtle
  • December 28, 2012, 6:26 pm
exelent blog
  • FocusLight
  • Level 30
  • Artisan Pixel Puncher
  • December 26, 2012, 11:19 am
Great tutorial! Diamond for you!
I know that the hue thing by reading it but i stiil dont quite get color that i wont :/ On the lighten/darken tool [On MCSkin3D] What number should it be on for it to get a nice color? [Plz Help me]
  • PonyGoggles
  • Level 48
  • Master Batman
  • November 20, 2012, 9:10 pm
I thought i already commented.. but wht colours should it change to for skin colour? :3
  • the_soup
  • Retired Moderator
  • Level 69
  • High Grandmaster Button Pusher
  • November 20, 2012, 9:44 pm
Skin should get pinker/peacher/browner as it gets darker (depending on the skin) and yellower/whiter as it gets lighter. Girl skins and/or paler skins look better if they get pinker or peacher, darker skin colors look better if they get browner. Here's an example on an unreleased skin of mine: http://i.imgur.com/tx06j.png
  • PonyGoggles
  • Level 48
  • Master Batman
  • November 20, 2012, 9:56 pm
:3 Oh, Ok ^-^ Thanks, ill try to make it peach-ish/pink-ish X3
  • Apple_Sauce
  • Level 48
  • Master Lad
  • November 14, 2012, 2:13 pm
Best tutorial yet :D
  • aesrdf
  • Level 1
  • New Network
  • November 7, 2012, 4:34 pm
Thanks, this really made me understand palettes ^u^ I never knew how to properly shade ;p

1 - 50 of 189

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