An "In Depth" Guide to Depth Shading

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What is depth shading, you might ask?
Well, depth shading is an advanced technique used while making textures that can add more detail, more contrast, and a better 3D-like effect.

Here are some terms/abbreviations:

DS - Short for "Depth Shading".  This is a general term for all types of depth shading.
CDS - Short for "Corner Depth Shading".  This technique is used on the vertical edges of buildings to add more contrast between walls.
ADS - Short for "Area Depth Shading".  This technique is used to add detail to large, blank areas to the walls of buildings.
DDS - Short for "Detailed Depth Shading".  This technique is used with decorative items like doors, windows, and anything else you put on your buildings.  This can help create contrast between these decals and the wall, as well as giving them a 3D effect.

Now that I've gotten those out of the way, I'll begin the tutorial.  These will be broken up into separate sections for each technique.

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Let's start with Corner Depth Shading

CDS is the simplest technique of the bunch.  All you have to do is change the brightness of a few vertical lines.  Here's an example:
C2.png
As you can see, I've brightened the vertical edges on the light side, and darkened the ones of the shadowed side.  Easy, right?
C1.png
Alternatively, you can darken all of those edges if you prefer a fainter CDS look:
C1B.png

One thing you should avoid is adding CDS to every edge.  When you add it to all of the edges like that, the CDS turns into a cartoonish outline, rather than a way to add detail.  I'd recommend only adding CDS to the two vertical edges of the wall, and the top horizontal edge of the wall (the horizontal edge is optional).
C3.png

What does this look like on a building?
Here's a few examples:
C4.png

It may be hard to see, but it'll definitely make your buildings look nicer.  As you can see, some of those buildings now have better defined walls with CDS added.  

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Area Depth Shading (aka ADS) is another form of depth shading.  This is the most difficult technique, and it will require some practice, but once you get the hang of it, your buildings will look a lot better.

Why should you use ADS?
Adding ADS to your buildings can help create more small details for the player to look at by creating small areas that are darker/lighter.  These areas are called "pockets."

How can I add it to my buildings?
I'll begin by showing the concept to you on a small, untextured building, and work my way from there.
ads1.png
For a small building like this, you should start off by making small, circular motions that cover a majority of the wall.  Keep making these motions, but get smaller and smaller with every one.  Try using the pencil or scattertool with black or white as your color at about 1-5% opacity.  Make sure to avoid those edges though.
ads2.png
Next, you should add this to the roof.  You should always do this, even if your roof is flat or if it's a slope.
ads3.png
Here's what it looks like with proper shading:
ads4.png
And here's what it might look like on a real building:
ads5.png
As you can see, its a bit faint.  This is intentional.  Remember not to be too drastic when applying ADS to a building.

Now, while that stuff may work for a small building like that, adding ADS to a bigger building is a bit more complex than just shading in the entire wall.  

Remember those pockets I mentioned earlier? Well, those will come into play when you add ADS to large buildings.  Pockets are those small circular motions you make while adding ADS.

Here are the pockets that we added to the first building: ADS6.png
As you can see, these pockets cover the entire wall.  However, for big buildings you'll want to add a few smaller pockets to those large open spaces.  It could look something like this:
asd7.png
Each one of those splotches of shading is a pocket.


Here's what it might look like on a proper building:
ads9.png
Here are some of the pockets I created while adding ADS:
ads10.png
In this example, I used ADS to make this factory building look more dirty and old.  The roof is also a lot more interesting to look at as well now that it has a pattern created from ADS.  I did exaggerate this efect a little bit in this example, so hopefully you can see what has changed.

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Detailed Depth Shading (aka DDS) is a term that applies to all shading that is used on decorations placed on buildings, such as windows, doors, and signs.  This can help them blend in with the building, while also creating a 3D-like effect.  

The most common use of this technique is on windows and doors.  Here's a short visual guide about common window types and their shading.
deco_shading_types.png
As you can see, on the light side of the building, we use dark shading, and on the dark side of the building, we use light shading.  Keep that in mind while you add your doors and windows.

Another thing you can do is add a faint outline to certain objects on walls, like signs.  This is pretty self-explanatory.  

Well, that about covers it.  DDS is a very general term, so it will apply to more things then just windows and doors, but the same basic principles still apply.

Last edit: by KINGTUT 10101


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