Freckleface: On Shading

Yay freckles!  Four more freckled faces to look at.  As always, we’re looking at the quality of the freckle — color, darkness, size, scatter pattern across the face, carryover onto the body.  Take a good look at these faces, and see how the freckles feel: Do they look natural?  Do they suit the skin for a cohesive look?  Do they have that special something that makes a freckled face feel like your own?

Freckles are mandatory for me, of course, but they’re not the only factor when looking at a skin.  Today’s selection lends itself nicely to a discussion on shading. We’re talking about the areas of the skin where highlights and shadows give the illusion of a three-dimensional form.  Look at the collarbones above — if you stare at them long enough, they become abstract studies in light and shadow.  Look away, and when you look back again, they look like collarbones once more.

For me, there are four factors to be considered when looking at shading: contrast, detail, style, and cohesion.  The contrast is the most immediately obvious — the dramatic highlights and shadows that create the illusion of three-dimensionality on the body.  Shading under the chin, for example, helps to visually indicate that the chin is closer to the camera than the neck, and shading along the thighs create fleshy roundness.

The next factor is the level of detail, and this is where personal preferences about body parts really come into play.  Look at the knees — do you want a kneecap just hinted at with a bit of shadow, or a realistic bumpy-looking kneecap?  Perhaps you like a well-defined bum, or only like lightly shaded tatas? How much do you like the stomach to be delineated?  Do you prefer a muscular or smooth back?

Third, there’s shading style, and I think this is what really makes skin-makers unique.  Two skins with similar contrast and level of detail will have dramatically different appearance from the style of shading.  Take another look at the collarbones.  In the full body shots, you can see that all four collarbones are well-defined.  However, when you look at the facial close-ups, you can clearly see that each creator has taken a different approach to creating the illusion of a protruding clavicle.  These unique differences give a skin its own charm, and contribute to how a skin fits a specific shape.

Finally, one has to look at how the shading of the individual parts comes together to form a cohesive whole.  Does any part of the body seem unnaturally bright or dark –  is the skin evenly shaded throughout the body?  If you isolate one part of the body — the back of the knee, for instance — is it well-shaded, but out of balance in relation to the rest of the body?  Does it look funny, by itself, but flow nicely with the overall feel of the skin?  Ideally, the shading of every part of the body should be able to stand on its own, and yet not stand out when compared with the whole of the skin.

I find shading to be so compelling simply because one can’t say that any single approach is better than another.  It really all depends on what you’re looking for in a skin.  Some prefer a more realistic, highly detailed, heavily shaded skin, while others prefer a more illustrative, flatter, softer style.  Your shape will determine some preferences — smaller-chested girls will most likely favor less dramatic cleavage shading, while a fuller-figured girl might prefer the illusion of volume that more defined shading can offer.  Your clothing preferences may be a factor; if the shading styles are too dissimilar, then your avatar won’t have a cohesive look.  You have to get out there and try different skins, see what’s new and exciting, and see what actually suits you and your avatar best.

All skins are, as usual, photographed on the same shape, in identical lighting, without prim eyelashes, so you can best compare the skins.

Skins, left to right:
Tyranny Designs – Dinah in Fall – Wheat – bare – w/ light nostril
L.Fauna – Lapine . Tan 1 – Fresh-FR
Sn@tch – Plush Skins – Tone 2 – Naive/FR
YoLo 3 Natural Blush Freckle Face Lt Brow
Hair: Clawtooth by Clawtooth – Good Morning – Peeled Carrots
Lingerie: Lyre and the Muse – Felicity
Poses from Reel Expression
Photographed at Malady Bog

Disclaimer: Promotional items included in this post: L.Fauna, Sn@tch, and YoLo skins.  I’m acquainted with some of the designers shown here.  However, I only blog things I like, regardless of affiliations or gifts.

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