• Software:Photoshop CS6  ·
  • Difficulty:Beginner

Rules of the Exercise

  • 1
    Download and open the exercise practice sheet for this exercise.
  • 2
    Analyze how to look at different materials and textures and how to accurately capture shading and rendering them.
  • 3
    Be sure to showcase your understanding of bounce lighting, highlights, and surface texture.
  • 4
    Submit your work for this exercise under the "submissions" tab!


  This exercise is another look at your analyzing skills and being able to interpret what you see and re-creating that. Now this exercise may seem simple but it's berry difficult when you work to get all the detail and lighting accurately. The challenge is looking at a few different factors: highlight placements, bounce lighting placements, color, and detailing. So we are looking at four berries (i realize a strawberry isn't actually a berry, but in name only) and looking at how to capture them in a digital painting. So below are the 4 berries, so take a look at the tips and then download the sheet to get started!

  • Blueberry - The easiest of the group, the blueberry should be treated differently. Rather than selective placement of highlights, see how the light is more spread out almost like this isn't a direct highlight. Focus on the matte look and try to achieve the texture of the surface.
  • Raspberry - This is where the lighting challenge is heavy. When the light passes through the surface of the berry, the inside will create a subsurface scattering effect making it appear as if the material has a soft glow of color from the inside. Also you need to focus on those highlight placements as well as the detail of the little "hairs".
  • Blackberry - Just like the raspberry, there is a lot of detail work in terms of separating each "segment" and giving it a proper lighting surface. This berry doesn't have the "hairs" or the subsurface scattering like the raspberry however.
  • Strawberry - Now this can be painstaking if you aren't patient. YES, i expect each seed to be placed and give the impression that it's slightly pushed into the berry affecting the way lighting is treated. You can certainly see that in the highlights in the reference. You can do it!

Below is the practice worksheet that you can download! You can find this on the "Downloads" tab under the header image near the top of this exercise! Exercise_36_PracticeSheet


  Reference. Reference. Reference. The best way to capture what you're drawing is to look from reference. The internet can show you most anything you are looking for. Sometimes it helps taking the reference pictures yourself or having the subject matter in front of you. Below is an example of the 4 berries from the exercise practice sheet. Really analyze the different berries and how each reflects and absorbs light. I also wanted to show the difference between direct sunlight lighting and ambient lighting (bounce lighting). So in the picture below the top picture was taken in the direct sunlight and then i moved the paper right until it was in the cast shadow of a wall. Now what's interesting is when I placed the paper half in light and half out, you can really see the difference in the shadow treatment and is a good example of how to do shadows in different lighting scenarios. Exercise_36_refSheet These observation exercises are great ones to strengthen your understanding of lighting and materials. Working from life references is the best way to see how to accurately recreate a subject matter. So take what you learn from this exercise and apply it to any texture or material in your own work. (Also this could be pretty sweet portfolio pieces if done extremely well!)


  Below is my example and step by step chart for those that are looking to try out this exercise for themselves. Remember for this exercise, your highlights and color placements are what are really going to sell the final results! I also used some of the Concept Cookie basic brushes to produce the results. I think it good to see how to break it down in your head when you are creating your own. I like to separate the main stages into: outline, solid base, initial detail pass, remove the outlines/refining, highlights/bounce lighting, and finally shadows. Just like the Exercise 27: Candy Exercise it was fun working on a macro level of study and seeing all the nuances of color and where minor highlights were placed to indicate the different forms of the berries.

  1. Outline – Begin with the overall look and shape to each berry, remembering to take your time defining the shapes, even when it's tedious (patient pays off!)
  2. Solid Base - Choose a solid base color from a reference and work more neutral or even closer to a darker value to build upon.
  3. Initial Detail Pass - Before laying down another color, focus on where you want your light source and stay consistent throughout! Also bear in mind whether the light will pass through the surface (such as the raspberry) and be absorbed or will it be mostly reflected. Also be mindful of secondary colors like the green transition in the strawberry.
  4. Remove Outlines and Add Gradients - This will give the gem a solid foundation from here to detail further! This stage can be extremely time consuming but worth it!
  5. Surface, Highlights, and Bounce Lighting – The placement of highlights will define the overall render quality of your berries. Be very mindful of the way the highlights are rounded out on each surface and where the form curves inward. The subtle surface textures will add a sense of realism as well.
  6. Shadows - Now let your object rest. Not only be mindful of the direction and placement of your shadows but look at how some shadows draw from the color of the berry itself, adding a subtle touch of color. I also like to soften the edge just a tad to make it feel more real and less tight and sharp on the edges.

Exercise_36_Results2 When you finish the exercise, remember to submit the result to the "Submissions" tab near the top of this exercise. You can see other submissions alongside your own!