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 Phong Shading Back to Articles Page Next Page
Phong shading is all about creating the illusion of more detail from less. By reducing the contrasting light differences across triangle edges, the exact outline of the brushwork is hidden by soft shadows. This gives the player the impression of more detail when there is actually less.

This method of shading is best used across organic materials because it can creates such soft edges. Phong shading relies heavily on a good detailed texture for shape and form because there are no hard edges.

This article will hopefully show you what Phong shading is all about and how to use it to its best advantage. Luckily Phong shading is easy to implement and experiment with and when used with the appropriate brushwork it can produce some spectacular results.

For those of you that are interested in mathematics and like to know how things work then I recommend looking at the following articles on Phong Shading and Phong Lighting. There is a difference between Phong Shading and Lighting and both articles show this in greater detail.
 Out of the rough into the smooth    
Basic Blocks Trying to represent something organic can be difficult. Organic materials by their very nature are complex and simply require far too many brushes / triangles to be represented realistically.

To solve this problem, first find a realistic looking texture which can be used to represent the fine detail. It should not repeat too badly and be interesting enough to present the impression of the correct material.

Next create a low detail mesh or collection of brushes which have enough variety in their overall shape to give a reasonable impression of something organic. Straight lines and axial constructions are not organic looking and should be avoided.
 Silky Smooth    
Silky Smooth Once all the brushwork has been created and the correct texture has been chosen it's time to light the test brushwork and see how it looks.

Use a single light source and compile the test brushwork using a box map. The test brushwork may look similar to the image above with hard light edges, high contrasting shadows and a generally unrealistic appearance

But all is not lost, because with the aid of Phong Shading the brushwork can be made to look like that in the image to the left, with smooth looking shapes and diffuse shadows complimenting the irregular brushwork underneath
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