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Micro Hero 101: Shading Techniques

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  • Micro Hero 101: Shading Techniques

    As promised the antique has been replaced, you may copy and refer to this new version as needed. Consult your Professors if you are not sure about the shading you have done.

    DG_lesson_Ib_Str.gifThe purpose of this tutorial is to help you people out there with trouble shading a weapon blade or any other metal piece and give them that sharp shining look. To make things easier for you, the following tools are needed:

    1 – A drawing program (this tutorial was done with MSPaint)
    2 – A dark background (preferable)
    3 – A color scheme of at least 6 tones
    4 – And obviously, something to be shaded.

    In this tutorial, an exotic blade is shaded twice (with the tags OLD and NEW) using the same scheme but with different techniques. The steps provided will guide you through the proccess of turning the OLD Blade into the NEW one. (The handle suffered no modifications)

    STEP 1: After preparing the scheme*, darkest to lightest tone (downwards), add the 1st color (darkest) to all extremities and junctions of the subject, only ONE pixel. You’ll notice there are parts with a sequence of two pixels, but it’s up to you. When facing long straight lines feel free to advance a bit more.

    *If you don’t know how to make one: Go to Colors -> Edit Colors.

    NOTE: You don’t have to add it to all extremities and junctions after mastering the whole process.

    STEP 2: Those pixels mentioned above need some company. Add the 2nd tone to their sides. But be careful: Do not add this color when there’s no road nor room for them! The spiked side can give you a clear idea. Once again, adding more than one pixel is allowed when you have a great distance to cover.

    STEP 3: The 3rd color follows the same pattern. You will notice (hopefully) the creation of tiny color schemes all over the blade, a progression of colors under construction. Side by side, make this color together with the 2nd one. Half way done, you can add 2 pixels wherever its possible. Remember not to go farther than the black outline!

    STEP 4: Now it may gets tricky. After going through the “dark half” of the scheme, the lightest colors can be used with more freedom of space. In fact, the 4th tone will prepare the final room for the last two, so pay attention on what you’re doing! Those last colors will be the ones responsible for most of the “sharp shining effect”.

    STEP 5: Almost done! The 5th color will occupy most of the blade. Just make sure you will save enough space for the last tone. In this tutorial, we’ll focus only a straight highlight, no turns, no curvatures, just an arrow.

    STEP 6: To this “arrow” you will finally add the the lightest color and close the case! Pretty cool huh!?

    As a final consideration: The subject provided here can be a real Hydra with nine hungry mouths to most beginners but keep in mind you don’t have to follow each step by the book. There are a few places here and there where the colors in that scheme could fit with no problem (but always respecting the progression of darkest to lightest). Can you detect those not-so hidden spots? Good luck!


    This new example follows the same rules explained above. Progressive shading is not so difficult. Take a look at those heavy lances. You’ll notice both are ok. Now take a closer look/zoom in. You’ll see 2 has a keen edge while 1 looks “squary”. How to avoid it? Different techniques. Same principles! But this particular lesson I can’t teach you, you’ll only learn it through practice.

    Both weapons were made by Atlas/The Fool.
    One of the shading techniques we all should work on is “Original Hairstyles”! Let’s be honest when have any of us ever seen the same style or cut on people walking by? Oh sure when we are in school its hip to be trendy by showing off the latest “IN” style. While its also true drawing hair is not exactly a shading technique its application however is. Follow the tutorial below, like a handful of others you will be on your way to making your own hair instead of picking a do from the templates.

    Practice drawing hair a while before you apply it to any new microhero!

    Here is the image progression of steps I use!

    Note: This tutorial is designed for Photoshop users only by a Photoshop user, MSPaint users you still have to practice for now.

    1) Open a Blank template and change the Image mode to “RGB color” (this will enable you to work with layers, which is of the utmost importance if you want to keep your micros clean and organized)

    2) Create a new layer where you will draw your micro’s costume outlines. The purpose of drawing it on a new layer is it will make future possible modification easier.

    3) With the magic wand selector with a high tolerance (90% antialised off) select all the costumes sections you want to color in one color, in this case Blue.

    4) Once the areas are selected use Copy merged and paste to get a new layer with only the costume section you will color / shade.

    5) Go to Image> Adjustments> Desaturate, to get the grayscale look you see on image 3.

    6) Now use the “Burn Tool” on the areas you want to shade dark. Now your micro should look like the one on Image 4.

    7) Use the “Dodge Tool” to create the highlights as you see on Image 5. Once you have this done your shading is done, now will move to the coloring business.

    8) Go to the color palette and choose your desired color and set it as the foreground color.

    9) To color your layer go to Image> Adjustments> Hue/Saturation. Tick “Colorize” and play with the Saturation and Lightness until you get the desired effect.

    10) Repeat this process on the rest of the costume. always remember to use separate layers for each colored section of the costume.


    100% Credit for this tutorial goes to Rodimus from his post on the sVo boards.