Tutorial // Basic Highlights & Shading

So a few of you spoke up – and I listened!  Today I’m writing up a tutorial on how to do basic highlighting and shading.  Although this isn’t the method I use anymore, it can still make a vast improvement to your pictures.

After you have Photoshop opened up, on your toolbar there should be an icon that looks like one of these three:


Dodge can be used for highlights, and burn can be used for shading.  You’ll want to mess around with the preferences on your top menu once you have those tools selected.  It should look something like this:

BD Menu

You’re given three different options as far as range goes: highlights, midtones, and shadows.  Highlights will bring out more of a glow than anything, and from what I can tell shadows typically desaturate your image, so I would suggest sticking to midtones if you’re planning on using the dodge tool.

As with dodge, you’re given the same three range options when selecting the burn tool.  The range effects are different however;  highlights desaturate and shadows saturate.  I would normally use dodge set to midtones at first, and when I’m satisfied with that I top it off with dodge set on highlights.

BD Before After

Focus on where your lighting is coming from.  If it’s coming from the right, the right side of your avatar should have more lighting than shading, whereas the left side of your avatar should have more shading than lighting.  You can also use the burn tool to define creases or dips in the skin, such as around your avatar’s nostrils or collar bone.

I hope this helps!  If you’re looking for more in depth explanations and/or methods, I still offer Photoshop lessons.  Just leave me a message in-world and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can :3

Haiden Highfield