Often when looking at clothing in Second Life, I think ‘nah, not worth the money, needs definitely more shading’. Basically, there are two ways in which shading is important for clothing textures:
- Shading the texture to bring out the ‘human form’. As Second Life does not give any real (enough) shading on avatars, the best way to get a life-like result is to add that shading - badly needed to get any sense of depth - in the textures. Lighten up the top and darken the below part of the breasts to stress that they are actually round. Same with the butt. And possibly the abs. Etc.
- Shading within the clothing texture itself. Imagine you standing with a spot above you aiming down. Right below your button there is some shade, how strong, depends on the lighting. Right? Your belt? If it’s a shiny one, there will be a white strike on top, and a more dark part below. A ‘cable’ texture on a wool sweater? You bet you see it’s depth, because parts of the highlights and shadows. And for that? Sorry, imho, just copy pasting RL photographed textures doesn’t cut it.
So we’re going to handle part two - shading within the clothing texture itself - and how to do that using Photoshop layer styles in this tutorial.
See the light
The first thing you need to do, is choosing where your light comes from. Vint’s suggestion: the light comes from above you. Pick your source textures with that kind of lighting and stick to this ‘lighting perspective’. Use the same ‘lighting perspective’ for the layer styles and for shading the avatar to human form (point 1). If you have a hard time imagining this, take a Mr. Woodman and put it under a desk lamp.
Now we can start. Let’s work on the collar of a shirt, sweater, … . An armour in this example. I assume your collar is on a separate layer. If it’s not, put it on there. Looks boring, flat and ugly now, doesn’t it? Let’s see what we can do with it?
Using Layer Styles
Select the layer your collar is on and go to ‘Layer’ (alt+L), ‘Layer Style’, ‘Drop Shadow’ or just click the ‘f’ symbol in the layers palette and choose ‘Drop Shadow’.
- Angle: 90 degrees and make sure ‘use global lighting’ is checked.
- Distance, spread and size depend on the size of the file you’re working with, the kind of collar you’re shading and personal preferences. Just play with it until it feels right. I suggest you keep the ‘distance’ always bigger then the ’size’.
Bevel and Emboss
You shall see your angle, altitude, … were already set when we added the drop shadow. So don’t touch them, unless you’re feeling adventurous. ;) Opacity for the highlight mode and shadow mode you can later use to fine tune the results of your bevel. Altitude will change the ‘harshness’ of the shadows/highlights mainly. I suggest for a collar, you use ‘Inner Bevel’ as style.
- If you’re working on a 1024×1024, stay under 10 pixels for the size. Play with soften to your liking.
- Depth I usually leave as is.
Bevel and Emboss > Texture
Under ‘Bevel and Emboss’, activate ‘texture’ by checking it. Assuming you’ve chosen ‘Inner Bevel’ previously, your collar shall suddenly seem to have ‘relief’/'depth’. Choose a pattern to your liking, if your colar is a painted pattern, pick the same pattern then. Adjust scale, depth, … till the results look good. ;)
We defined the light on the upper edge and below edge of the collar using Bevel and Emboss. Gradient Overlay we will use to add light to the collar itself. Assuming your light comes from above you, the upper part will be a bit more light then the below part. So we pick the ‘black to white’ gradient (default) and put the opacity to somewhere around 40%.
If you want a ’round’ looking collar, consider changing the gradient style to ‘reflected’ and checking ‘reverse’ so the highlighted part of the collar is in the middle of it.
Use this for fine tuning and pick the exact same texture size and texture as you’ve used in ‘Bevel and Emboss > Texture‘. I also often use just a monotonous color for painting the collar and then add all depth / texture by using Photoshop layer styles.
I think this would come handy if you would wish to use the same ‘base’ layer for different types of collars. (Just draw the upper clothing template once and make different versions of it using different layer styles options.)
Note on the Sleeves
Assuming we are working on an upper body texture, you need to keep one thing into account: the sleeves. Most of the time, people keep their arms down. Right? Keeping them up or to the sides all the time is very very exhausting. :p So light on that sleeve part of the texture comes from the left. That way when standing normal upright with your arms besides your body, your light on the arms will seem to come from above you too.
How to do that? Just put all the arms stuff on separate layers, right click your body layer style and choose ‘copy layer style’. Then click the arm texture you want to shade in the same way and choose ‘paste layer style’. Edit layer style options for that one, and change global lightning to light coming from the left (angle 180 degrees). Et voila.
Possibilities of using layer styles
Possibilities of this are _endless_. I use it to create my buttons - it’s definitely quicker then photo-sourcing one -, collars, sleeve edges, zippers, stitches & patches, belts, … . There are that many different settings that you can explore Photoshop’s layer styles for ages, and still will find a new way to use the settings. So, start playing with it! ;)