Programs: Adobe Photoshop, Gimp, or equivalent program.
Pre-requisites: Basic knowledge of Photoshop tools and functions; they will not be explained
Have you ever tried to crate something such as a crown or woodcarving? If so, you know that in order to look really realistic, the details painted onto the texture can't be just flat color. It looks just as it is painted on: flat. But how do we create the illusion of depth with a flat texture? Simple: shading. Here I'll show you how to do this by hand the easy way. First, select your detail pattern and whether it will be raised or recessed. I will do a recessed pattern here. first, here is my pattern's silhouette:
I chose a fancy pattern because I will later apply it to a crown, but simpler patterns can have the same technique applied as well. My crown will be gold, so I select this color for the main color:
What colors I choose next depend on what kind of detail I'm doing, and where the light will be coming from. Since I am doing a recessed detail, I will choose a slightly darker color for the main base color of the detail:
However, if I were to do a raised detail, I would choose a slightly lighter color. Now, let's assume my light is coming from the top of the picture. If my detail is recessed, that means that the top edges of the detail, will be in shadow, while the lower edges will be in the light. So, for my shadow color I choose a fairly dark shade of the same gold:
And for the lit parts I will choose a fairly bright color:
Next I'm just going to fill the entire detail with the main detail color by selecting it with the "magic wand" tool and using the bucket fill button:
Now that i have the colors selected, I need to choose what kind of brush I will use. I'm going to choose a regular brush that is very blurry. For my size i set it to "6." What we do is simply run the brush along the undersides of all the pieces of the detail (a tablet PC is recommended, but not necessary), creating coherent highlights. It is recommended that you select only the detail area using the "magic wand" tool before beginning this process, just so that you keep the detail's shape. When you reach a section that is vertical you should taper off the highlight and stop it when the section goes totally vertical. If this wasn't clear, try a picture:
Notice how I'm highlighting all the bottom edges. I also messed up in a few places and highlighted the top edge because my brush was too big for the tight space. Ignore these areas, they can be fixed later. Continue with this process over the entire detail, highlighting all the lower edges. Here is a progression of how mine looked as I was doing so:
Once you are done with the highlights, it's time for the shadows. Here we use the same technique as before, following all the same rules, only using the dark shadow color, and following the TOP edges. This process would be reversed (light on the top edges and dark on the bottom) if we were doing a raised detail. As you are doing the shadows, go back with a smaller brush and go over any mistakes you may have made earlier when doing the highlights. Here's the progression of how the shadows are added:
Now, we have the finished product:
And when I scale it and apply it to my crown, it looks like this:
Hope you enjoyed this and learned something.
"When life gives you lemons, see the lemons, feels the lemons, BE THE LEMONS!"
Wow, this is a really great tutorial. Thanks, I'm sure this will help many people!
Only major suggestion I can offer is that, instead of using the Magic Wand tool, if your design is on its own layer and the rest of the layer is transparent, you can use "Preserve Transparency" instead of the magic wand tool to make sure you only paint over the parts of the texture you want. This is especially great when your texture doesn't just have sharp "either transparent or non-transparent" transparency, but has softened edges.
Additionally, if you have a large area to work with but your mouse is too fidgety to move continuously without spasming, you may be able to use the Paths tool to get more consistent results. This is better for large areas or where straight lines must be, well, straight, and you can't get that amount of accuracy with just a mouse. If you have a tablet that you are skilled with, though, this method is easier and gives much more impressive results.
Yes, my username is obnoxiously long. I thought of it while I was still just downloading, and having CC not crash my game was one of my primary concerns. Sorry. >_>