First round of development for the shaders of the chest/face and socks/gloves! In my file-names and node names I've started calling them the light marks and dark marks respectively, to simplify the names and clarify use for different schemes that might not always refer to exactly the same areas. Despite appearances, the black marks are intended to represent fur markings, not thigh-highs and elbow-gloves clothing. As with Rederick's development, building proper texture maps for Blythe would be too time consuming to constantly do for these progress updates, so crude representations will be used, by applying shaders directly to model faces, until the topology is finalized and proper UVs are developed.
In the upper trio, I've highlighted in magenta each of the color components of the Ambient Occlusion shaders as plugged into the PhongE for the light marks shader. AO shaders take 2 color parameters, bright and dark. Although AO is used to simulate Global Illumination, fake more detailed shadows, or bring out details that may get lost, I tend to abuse them as a way to paint in colors to make it more interesting as I'm pretty awful at painting appealing textures beyond making shapes.
At the top, moving from left to right: For the first set of 3 images, it covers the 2 AO shaders plugged into the diffuse parameter of the PhongE. The diffuse parameter has an AO shader (called AODiff1) plugged into it. AODiff1 has a simple dark color(Rederick has dark blue, and Blythe has dark red) but the bright parameter is actually has another AO shader (AODiff2) plugged into it. AODiff1 and AODiff2 have different spread values, so they do not overlap and hide the inner AO's dark parameters. The first figure on the left highlights where the bright parameter color is applied on the figure by AODiff2 the second figure is the dark parameter for AODiff2. Figure 3 is the Dark component of AODiff1. The next two square are the bright/dark parameters for the specular color and whiteness components of the PhongE, respectively. It might be very hard to see the magenta in the whiteness figures, they're are mostly lightly coloring the ears, but because PhongE is dynamic, the exact amount of each component painted in differs base on the environment the model is in so in certain environments the specular color and whiteness can be significantly more noticeable.
The variety and dynamic application of colors by AO/PhongE shaders is only part of how I achieve the look I'm currently using for these models. Color lighting is the other very important aspect. So often I see models and scenes done in default lighting or plain, uniformly applied white light. It is a terrible shame how such otherwise lovely work is ruined by neglected such an important detail as lighting. I am by no means great at lighting, but even a crude application of it can make a huge difference.
In the lower set of images, moving left to right: the first two figures are using default lighting, the 1st being the combination of all AO/PhongE shader colors used in the top row (so no magenta) and the 2nd is the final color choices. The next 3 images are the final color choices under different sets of lighting. I rarely use just plain white lights, except when trying to uniformly lighten up a scene. In reality, light is rarely pure white so using colored (even very slightly hued) lighting is makes for much nicer look. I usually have about 3 different hues in use in the lights, often with varying intensities. I could probably be more efficient in my lighting work as even my basic figures generally have around 15 lights and I've read that the simple standard is 3.
The last image on the lower right is an unlit failed experiment. I'm actually kind of unhappy with the light marks coloring. I really wanted some kind of orange or golden-orange color for Blythe, but I just couldn't make it work. The closest I got to something that looked sorta nice was this orange-red color that matches her nail polish. I am, however, exceptionally happy with the dark marks of her socks and gloves!