We try to keep our lighting neutral and bright enough to bring out all the details. Even the Forest Unicorn, which is supposedly walking in moonlight, has been rendered in bright neutral light to bring out the details and the bright gel light (leafy pattern) has been added on top of that.
Why do we do this? Well, you can always paint shadows in yourself, but you can never recover details that aren’t there. So we hope our products can be used on a cover where a character’s face is in bright light or on a cover where half the face is obscured in shadow.
How do you apply shadows yourself? Get familiar with the Photoshop Dodge tools. If you want to obscure half a face in shadow, try adding a layer above the face in neutral gray, and set that layer’s blend mode to “Color Burn.” Then you can paint non-destructive shadows on that layer with a soft brush set to a darker grey and Mode of Color Burn. Or you can play around with other darkening blend modes and use colors (remember that highlights and shadows are represented best with complementary colors; for instance, a warm orange light would cast cool blue shadows).
While the majority of our products have neutral lighting, there are exceptions. We sometimes employ colored rim lights (e.g. Scout in Sunset, Mermaid I). And, if we feel the character and mood requires it, we sometimes shadow the model’s face (e.g. Dangerous Red).