How to Shade Skin : Illustration Basics | Natalie Parker | Skillshare

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How to Shade Skin : Illustration Basics

teacher avatar Natalie Parker, Illustrator and Concept Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What You'll Need


    • 3.

      References and Sketching


    • 4.

      Laying Down Flats


    • 5.

      Adding Values


    • 6.



    • 7.

      Highlights and Edges


    • 8.



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About This Class

In this class, I will be going over how I personally shade skin using digital mediums. 

We will go from start to finish walking through how to shade skin in a semi-realistic manner, fit for fanart, video games, and front cover illustrations.

I will work with my students to create their own artwork using the tools and techniques I have provided.

Even if you don't personally work in this style, chances are there is something in here for you! 

While I do use Photoshop in this lesson, any digital art software that has pen pressure will work! Adobe even has a free version of Photoshop CS2, so go ahead and check it out!

I have provided the brushes I used in our Class Project. 

Music Credit: Dj Quads

Track Name: "It's Near" Music By: Dj Quads @

Original upload HERE -

Meet Your Teacher

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Natalie Parker

Illustrator and Concept Artist

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hi, everyone. My name is Natalie. I'm a freelancer who works in graphic novels, indie video games and const. Art. Today we'll be taking my years of experience and giving some of that to you. We will go over my tips and tricks on how I shade skin at the end of this video. I'll have some home for you and you'll be able to apply these skills to your own world and your own piece of work. I'll go ahead and even give feedback. Answer any questions you have, so hopefully you can improve in shading skin. So without further ado, let's get started. 2. What You'll Need: for this lesson, you're going to need two main things. The first is going to be some sort of tablet with pen pressure. You have to have pen pressure when you're using digital art. The reason being because you need to be able to create soft edges hard edges and build up its creator believable picture for your audience to view. I'm personally going to be using a senti 22 HD. It is quite a hefty investments, so it is great for the professional. But if you're starting out, don't worry. There are plenty of great alternatives to use. You could go invest in a bamboo, which is about $60 I believe. Or there's a lots of alternatives on Amazon, like ex Penn, which are great both off and on screen tablets to start traditional art drink. The second thing you're going to need is some sort of digital painting software. In our lesson, you'll see me using photo shop CS six. You don't have to use that. There are great, cheap and almost free alternatives to use, such as paint will sigh subsidy a pro. You could even go on to adobes website and find their CS two for free Now, feel free to go ahead, put on it and download it. It should give you everything you need for this to torture. If you're on an iPad, you could even use appropriate. It's a great alternative, as this tutorial is pretty simple. We will only need three brushes. One is going to be an airbrush. Second is going to be a medium hard brush, which looks a bit like an oil brush that will be using to build up her tones. And our third will be an entirely opaque brush used to lay down our flats. So go ahead, take a moment, set up your studio and once you're ready, let's get started. 3. References and Sketching: the very first thing you're going to need before you start sketching is a reference photo. No reference photos are not cheating their foundational to growing as an artist because they help you learn things like anatomy, form, lighting shape and so much more. So you absolutely need to have a reference when you're drawing. If you're going to use that, references a direct study, make sure to credit whoever's there. For instance, here we have Diana core Panova. She's an instagram model, influencer and celebrity and a perfect subject for our lesson today. Now, when choosing your photo buying, something with natural lighting like we see above has straight on face without any crazy dynamics, whether in lighting, proposing this will help us study most efficiently and without difficulties. Right? So now we're going to start sketching I personally working very painterly style. So I like to use loose lines in order to get a greater idea of the form. Something you see me do here, which I consider a pro tip, is I'm going to be frequently flipping my picture horizontally back and forth. This helps me find any inconsistencies in my sketching, which is greats and sketches air considered the foundation off all of your pieces, the guidelines. So even though I might not be making liner, they still show me where I should be placing the eyes, the nose in the mouth. So I will continue to flip my sketch back and forth until I feel more comfortable with how this sketch is turning out. The reason we do this is sometimes when we're just looking at a picture and we don't change it. Our eyes get used to what they see, and they tell our brain that everything is looking on right. By flipping this back and forth, we can help see those inconsistencies that our brain might not pick up right away after looking at it for so long, Another pro tip. Be afraid to use theory. A tsar. This is common in all professionals. Use erasers because all professionals make mistakes. Go ahead, keep tweaking it until you feel like you've got a foundation that you can work with for me . I moved it around a lot. I was constantly erasing the cemetery on the nose and moving it to where I felt more comfortable with it, being I continued to flip a race and even move my pieces of the face until I felt like I had a sketch I could work with. Once you feel like you have a sketch you couldn't work with. Good job. You ready for the next step? 4. Laying Down Flats: we finish your sketch. Great job. Now we need to lay down a flat color that's going to act as our foundation. When choosing thought colors, it's important to choose a mid tone if you go to bright or if you go to dark, your character is going to look really washed out or very dull. So we want to find something that is in between the colors you see on your reference. Go ahead and decide whatever color you're going to need for your specific chosen image by starting from the Midtown. This allows us to address gradually and make more believable highlights and shadows, bringing depth and life to our characters. If you would like, you can create an additional layer with swatches of your colors to reference back to. As you practice skin tones more, you'll be able to work without constant need for referral of swatches, and you'll just be able to trust your instincts and color theory. We're going to put those flat colors on two separate layers. One is going to be our skin, and then the 2nd 1 is going to be the hair, which is going to be late of above this is going to help us later when it comes to shading and keeping everything within a certain books. Now that your flocks have been laid, let's move on to the next. 5. Adding Values: so we've laid down her flats. The next part is to start our values created clipping mask above the base layer of the skin that's gonna help keep all of your shading within a certain zone and won't bleed into the hair or anywhere else. Well, did the same thing in the future if you had any other layers. So we're going to go ahead and choose a soft, airbrushed tool with about 40 to 60% capacity to lost. To slowly build up the values where we want them. Go ahead and lower the A pass ity of your sketch. This will help us see more where we're going and not hide the color so much. We're going to be marking our values with a medium dark tone. Do this by moving your colors the bottom right corner and then shifting the huge wars read . Putting it to more red allows us to keep more believable, feeling like she's flush or has blood actually running through her system. If you continue to work with the yellow tone, she's going to look sickly or flushed out because we are complex as human beings. We have lots of different skin tones running throughout our system. Go ahead, reference your image and use it as a guideline for where you're going to pick putting your shadows. Remember, we don't want to go to dark yet, just a middle ground toe. So we know where this lighting is kind of working next. We also want to move to a medium highlight for the lighter portions of her skin that isn't red contact with our source. Do this by moving our color slightly to the top left side and then shift the huge towards Gilo. Since you've already shifted the darks tours red, we want to shift the huge towards yellow. This will allow us to again achieved that believable tone that matches the source and system that runs underneath the human skin. Shifting argues will give the face of more realistic field and allow us to work with a variety of Hughes within the same picture. At this point, we do not want to be putting any harsh shadows or harsh highlights that will come later when we go to the rendering abortion. Once you have your values, Mata as well as feeling in the irises and lips, we're ready to move to the next step 6. Rendering: next up, we have rendering. This is by far the most time consuming portion that almost any artist goes through when creating digital illustration at same old started. Spend about 50% of the time here, so that takes you a while. Don't worry, it's normal when rendering. What we're going to do is focus on creating hard and soft edges to bring a three dimensional field tour characters. We're also going to start adding those darker and lighter colors under her face. So whenever you receive Crease, who want to go ahead and add a sharp edge, for instance, we have the eyelids, which will always have a crease on them. See how add in a hard edge to the crease brings more depth to the character that mimics how people look in real life and future videos. I will go over in detail things such as facial features, eyes, lips, noses and math. Now we're going to keep rendering the skin well moving between both of the shades, both lighter and darker. Really utilize your eye drop tool and a brush set to about 65% capacity. At this point, you should move away from the air brush tool and focus solely on using something that is a little bit more Orpik, like an oil brush or something that makes that feeling by utilizing the eyedropper tool and moving in between the shades. This will allow you to gradually build up a believable set of values and shadows. Is I shade? I worked for a moving steadily darker and lighter building up tones as I go. Reference or photo. Often it will help you to know where to place shadows and highlights properly. You can start by color, picking from the reference if you want to, but try to move away from this method and use your Cali World war on set. This will help you build strong foundations in color theory and shaking overall, if slowly moving darker and darker as well, is lighter and lighter, as the reference photo demonstrates, some of them may increase is that you're going to see in the picture around the eyes, the bottom of the nose, the lips, the char line and the year that slightly hidden by her hair. The rest of the area I'm going to keep on building up my shadows and highlights slowly and carefully. until she finally comes to life. Another pro tip I use is that while I'm painting, I'm constantly toddling. Are Leinart on and off so I can and can't see it. This is a good test to go through. When you turn your light art off, you have an actual good feel of what the defining features of her face. Er, if you don't that means you still have to keep working. Turn it off will help you build a stronger foundation in sculpting and painting a picture if you were traditionally but an additional format instead, so keep flickering between your line are being on and off, building up those harsher shadows and soft highlights. At this point, I also occasionally go to switching the canvas, horizontal a back and forth not as much as I did when I was in this catch, but just enough to make sure that I'm not making any mistakes that I'm not aware of. Once you feel confident in how the picture looks rendered, we could move on to the final and most fun step, adding highlights and dark shadows 7. Highlights and Edges: now that our peace has mostly been rendered is time for the fun part? Details. I first I love this and you have a lot of fun with it. When working on highlights and harsh lines, you can have a little creativity to bring your character more to life here. I'd like to start with adding white highlights on the eyelids. Tear duct knows regular lips and cheeks to give a mesmerizing look to my peace that make sure look like she's wearing a lot of highlighter. But it makes her face pop. The more white that you add to the skin, the more wet it may look. This is great if that's the effect that you're trying to achieve. But if it's not just be aware of that, I'm also going to start adding deep and harsh shadows into the iris. The I crease, below the jawline and in the eyelashes always use your reference at this point, when you're using tiny little details and accents is more of a guideline, more source of inspiration. But still, it's great to look back one, especially if you're not used to wear placing highlights are the more use of highlights. You get the more freedom and creativity you have. If you're new to it, you have realistic to the reference. There's nothing wrong with that. See how I'm adding a highlight to her drawling here. It's a fundamental fact I like to put in my piece. It makes it feel like there's multiple sources of lighting coming in the next to her or behind her or in front of her now. This doesn't always happen in real life, but it adds a lot of depth into an artwork. So I recommend playing around with it for yourself, also adding more intense highlights to the arch of her brow and inside of the tear ducts, as well as a tip of the nose when she has in the actual reference foot. Also notice heart. Adding the highlights into her eyes and into her pupils brings an entire new life to the peace from being flat. Two more. Three D. These are some of the things that you can play around with highlights to make your peace pop. Once you're happy with your highlights, a swell as your final piece feel free to move on. Now we can go into giving some feedback, answered any final questions and looking to the future 8. Outro: thank you so much for taking my class. I hope you were able to get something invaluable out of it. I will be giving you a bit of homework and a chance for one on one feedback with me. Go ahead, find your own references and work through the process we've learned about, then posted in the comments below with any questions you had along the way, I will answer them as well as give you feedback on your piece. Remember? So the most important thing we learned over this lesson, where sketching is the foundation of everything references are key. No, they're not cheating. They're going to help you improve greatly is an artist. Take your time, rendering takes a bit and that's okay. Just make sure you keep working at it until you feel satisfied when my pro tips put the canvas horizontally to make sure you're not missing any errors and, most importantly, have fun with it at the end. Details. Bringing character to life and make them yours. Remember, the best way to improve is by practicing, so get out there and let's draw something amazing