Shading

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Introduction

Shading is the effect produced when an object's color and appearance is altered based on its angle relative to a light source and the viewer's eye. This something we are intuitively familiar with when dealing with objects in the real world. When light strikes an object, we see the contours, overhangs, edges, surfaces, finishes, roughness, etc. as that light is reflected to our eyes.

In SMC, shading is the process of texturing graphics to approximate this natural shading effect. Since much of the appeal of SMC are the beautiful and rich graphics, maintaining a consistent shading style is an important aspect to consider when creating new graphics.


SMC Shading Style

We use a sweet and smooth shading style in-game and the look is pseudo-3D. Thus objects cast shadows, have highlights, and appear to have contoured surfaces (i.e. they appear to extend towards the viewer/player). On simple objects, this can be mostly a mix of gradients - linear or radial. However, there are many cases where an object's shape doesn't lend itself to using gradients to accomplish this look. For that we use either the :


The general style settings are:

  • The in-game "Sun" is always on the top left.
    • Graphics should therefore have appropriately placed shadows.
    • Linear gradients with highlights from upper-left to lower-right should be used as base layers.
  • Highlights and shadows should have softened edges.
    • Cel-shading, where there are hard edges on shadows and highlights should be avoided.


For examples see


Wrong Shading Style

An example : Hard Shading

  • The realistic style doesn't fit for SMC.
  • Uses no gradients at all but vector areas with one color.
  • No outline.
  • Weak Colors.
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