Differential Shading

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Differential Shading

Post Feb 15th '18, 02:08

Way back when I was working on COLORSPEACK, I always thought that it was the perfect example of why differential shading is essential when mapping for marathon, as it makes the problem much more obvious than normal. I was too lazy to make a thread then, but since this topic has come up recently, I figured I'd make it now.

First of all, if you don't know what "differential shading" is, first go read about it here: http://mac-guild.org/mmmg/hastur/aesthetics1.shtml. I think there have been other Pfhorums threads about it as well, but I'm pretty sure the image links are all dead now.

I would argue that differential shading doesn't only make your maps look better, it's absolutely necessary to making your map feel like it has depth. In order to really drive this point home, I'm going to use my COLORSPEACK shapes, which are made up of single solid-color textures.

Here's an example of a room with no differential shading at all. It's got a window letting in some light for some basic lighting effects, but the interior walls are all the same light. Notice how it's impossible to see what the hell is going on in this picture.

Here's the same room with differential shading applied. Now you can easily see the shape of the room, and it actually feels like a 3D space. Nothing at all changed except for the lighting; that's how critical this step is.

Sure, when you use regular textures, it is *slightly* less of a problem, but not by much. It is still a major issue, as it's much harder than it should be to see the depth in the room.

Again, once differential shading is applied.

I hope my over the top example helps demonstrate why lighting is so important in marathon maps.

BTW, I made an alephone plugin to help you determine if your differential shading is adequate: http://simplici7y.com/items/differential-shading-checker-plugin
Last edited by Wrkncacnter on Feb 16th '18, 02:24, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Feb 15th '18, 03:48

Good stuff here, W'rk. I'd like to stress the importance of differential shading when it comes to descerning distances in maps. For instance, we can tell the ledge in this photo is as close to us as it is because it's darker!


Whereas, in the photo below, the difference between ledges is descerned by a difference in COLORS (You can also orient yourself directionally by calculating your position in relation to RAINBOWdoors):


Of course, the choice is yours, but I think we all win from the benefits of differential shading.
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South Park, CO

Post Feb 15th '18, 05:29

Guys, Windbreaker is one of the best mappers. You should take what he says seriously.
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Post Feb 15th '18, 08:25

Thank you for the excellent example, and my apologies for completely misunderstanding the topic when it was first presented. While I have done my best to be a dilligent follower of Hastur's teachings, and do depend on them in order for my creations to work properly, somehow I missed this chapter from the Holy Book of Grendel. Tricky not thinking in terms of natural light - what to darken, what to lighten - but I am sure it will come as I continue to experiment.
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Post Feb 15th '18, 11:48

I love how the WELL is also a comma
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Post Feb 16th '18, 02:25

I made an alephone plugin to help people determine if their maps have enough differential shading: http://simplici7y.com/items/differential-shading-checker-plugin

Just turn it on and walk around your map. If you can navigate around easily, congratulations, you have enough differential shading.
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