Okay in warning, this is all my opinion, you don't have to agree with it, you don't have to like it, I can't even make you respect it, but I can ask that you keep an open mind while reading, whichever side of the fence you're on.

Have you ever really contemplated why you shade the way you shade? I have for the past month or so been thinking about it off and on. I'm a tool shader, by nature, and I've finally come to the realization of why. It has nothing to do with not admiring pixel-shaders, I hold pixelers in the highest esteem. My sisters Juleah and Loopy are pixel-shaders, as was my sister Maria. I don't think of them any differently than I think of Pink and Chris. Nor do I think they're inherently any better than Chris or Pink. Where I go when visiting their sites mostly depends on what I want to see.

If I want to see gorgeous high fantasy dolls I'll go visit Juleah's site. If I want to see whimsical fantasy I'll go hunt out something of Loopy's. Tiny detail I go visit my stash of Maria's dolls on my harddrive. If I want to see darker, intense dolls, then I go hunting Chris. And if I want breath-taking faeries, I'll go visit Pink.

They’re all very talented artists who I admire very much, and how they create their art is the very least of what I pay attention to. In non-dolling art, I’ve never been forced to choose favorites based on medium, I hang watercolors next to oil next to markers next to digital. Always choosing what speaks to me not the medium it’s created in. I like photo manipulations as much as I like paintings, sculpture as much as photography.

And I’m allowed. I’m allowed to like Pre-Raphaelites and modern artists, fantasy and morbid and all at the same time.

I don’t choose my choice in literature along any lines except that the author tells a good tale. I have Mercedes Lackey and David Eddings sitting side by side, so to speak, with Walt Whitman, Stephen King, and Chris Crutcher. If maybe my taste in literature runs toward dark and fantasy, well that’s because it’s what I like, it doesn’t mean I can’t find enjoyment in a good non-fiction piece or an excellent classic, historical fiction maybe or even modern fiction of a lighter vein than the macabre.

I don’t choose my music by anything other than enjoying the story told and the way they tell it, which is why my CD collection goes from Vivaldi to Ella Fitzgerald to Travis Tritt to Def Leppard to Nickelback to the Beatles to Nine Inch Nails.

What does all of this have to do with shading style, you might ask? Quite a bit actually…

I’m just finishing up a self-set task of pixel shading all the main characters from one of my stories. With eleven main characters, and pixel-shading not being my medium of choice it was a challenge. And it taught me a lot about pixel-shading, and a lot about why I doll in the first place. Why, even, I chose to toolshade and some of what I’ve learned surprised me.


What I learned:

I don’t tool shade because I can’t pixel-shade:

I can pixel-shade, I might not be the best I’ve ever seen, but I’m not the worst either. Then again I’m not the best toolshader I’ve ever seen either. It's never stopped me.

I don’t tool shade because it’s quicker than pixel-shading:

None of these pixeled dolls took me more than eight hours. I have very few tool shaded dolls that have taken me less than eight hours.

I don’t tool shade because I feel prejudiced against pixel-shading or think I’m better because I don’t pixel-shade

Sorry that just strikes me as silly. If I could be good at everything I would be.


I do tool shade because I find it relaxing:

Pixel-shading to me is like a puzzle. If you put the right colors in the right place then you get the picture you want. This is just how I personally feel. But doing puzzles doesn’t relax me. Tool-shading is kind of like finger painting, I can just keep pushing til I get what I want which is a soothing feeling

I do tool shade because I like the results:

I’ve found I like the smooth edged blend of tool-shading. As most of the art I do I will see in high zoom ranges while working on it, rather than looking at it afterward the glaring discrepancies between colors on pixel-shading jar me. And what makes a good pixeled doll at normal size tends to have discrepancies in color when you’re working at 800% zoom.

I do tool shade because I find fun:

I enjoy tool-shading. *gasp* What a shock. I don’t enjoy pixel-shading. Oughtn’t I enjoy making art as I’m making it, cause damn if all I want is to be frustrated, I’ll draw with a pencil.


I found that I tool-shade and pixel-shade for different reasons! When I tool shade I strive to become more detailed, more original, more realistic. When I pixel-shade I mostly do it to pass time or to get it over with, I don’t take much pleasure in pixel-shading, I don’t ever stop and wonder that I created this piece. I just want to be done. I could probably be a much better much more detailed pixel-shader if I were willing to dedicate twenty-five plus hours to the doll. But I, personally, the absolute only person who can speak for me, feel no inclination to do so. But I do when I tool. Hmmm.


Which really brings me to the crux of writing this all up: Any artist I’ve ever met, no matter what their medium or background or even talent, has created to express themselves, plain and simple. Be it to get the image in their head out onto some sort of medium, to challenge themselves, to get better, to relax, to have fun, to express an emotion or opinion. And though we might be, to some, the lowliest of low, we dollers, we are still artists in my opinion.


So if what I am trying to create is an expression of myself, then who better to dictate what medium I choose than myself? Sometimes what I’m trying to say might best be expressed as a painting or a sketch or a cg or a vector or a blend or a photo manipulation or even a doll…


I just don’t think my message should be any less clear just because I muddle my colors sometimes.