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How do you determine where the shading on the figure should go? When I look at many drawings even professional, the shading looks arbitrary. I mean with a standard light source, not light from any fancy angles
My sketchbook: http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=205399
draw the human figure with a strong directional lighting a few thousand times, and after awhile you can close your eyes and see where the rises and crevases will cause shadows to fall.
you dont need to be a professional to have a light source. got a desk lamp... or a flashlight, or heck a window? i know youre talking about mostly invented illustrated figures from the imagination, but you can easily create lighting from any position with a bit of setting up a scene.
on a side note: 'shade' in art is an aspect of value. 'value' is comprised of tint and shade which is the amount of white or black added to a hue respectively. so if you really want to sound like an art snob you can say 'low-key tonal areas', and probably get slapped in the face.
i know its being picky and whiney about words, but its different to say 'work on the shades', than to say 'work on the shadows'
One trick to rendering is to have a shaded sphere as reference. I'm pretty sure I told you before about getting some markers and making value scales, this is derived from that.
First thing to do is to decide what your light value is, and what your shadow value is. The easiest way to go is to make the light 1, and the dark 6. This is the half-way-to-black relationship: The way it works is, using an 11 value scale(0 to 10; 0 = white) whatever value you chose for the light it's shadow will be halfway to black from it, so if you pick 1, you'll be left with ................. 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10, and 6 falls in the middle. You could chose any ratio, could be one third to black or whatever, all that matters is that you're consistent.
Next choose the direction of your light source and represent it with a sphere. Lighting the sphere is basically dividing it by it's circular cross sections, which requires perspective. You can see I used 6 values on the example. I did this quickly and the values used are arbitrary but I think it gets across the point. You should also do an actual rendering of a ball, or an egg from life, to get a more believable turn to your form.
Refering to this while you draw you can see that whatever planes face towards us will be a value 3, the planes facing all the way to the right will be a value 5, etc.
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Draw faces with different shapes - draw a person with high cheek-bones, a person with big ears, a person with a round face, etc. First, do the lines. Then decide the direction of the light - where it is coming from. Then try to determine where, in the faces you drew, it will 'hit the hardest' ( so to speak ), and darken from there.
I am really not the best advice-giver, though, since I - too - have a *lot* to learn in this aspect. I have drawn a lot of faces and portraits, so I have developed a certain natural tendency to recognize shapes, and that helps a lot.
Thanks for the tips guys!
Another thing, how do you get the shading to look realistic? When I am drawing from a photo or doing life drawing, the shading comes out look like merely a dark area and not genuine shading.
My sketchbook: http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=205399
Get an artist mannequin and light it with a single light source. Look at it as if it were a flat design of shapes, close one eye to get the idea but don't draw with one eye closed. You'll see that the entire form can be expressed as one compound shape(a complex shape made from smaller simpler shapes), draw it as a flat silhuette, draw it's outline. Work on this silhuette until it has an acceptable accuracy, if the proportions are way off it'll make the rendering harder since you won't be able to compare it easily with the model.
Next place your light so that the form is mostly in light or mostly in shadow, just be sure that there is shadow somewhere. Look at the mannequin and note what's in light and what's in shadow. In some ambiguous place there is a theoretical line that marks the boundaries of light and dark, draw that boundary line. The silhuette will start getting divided into shapes and will start to resemble the model more, some shapes will represent surfaces that are in direct light, some of the shapes will represent surfaces that are in shadow.
You can do several things at this point, you could place general values into those shapes, you could look only at the boundary lines and work only on the quality of the core shadows. I think the most beneficial thing to do at this point would be to ignore the shadows and only render the light: Rendering shadows is just rendering less light. What to look for in your light shapes is how they gradually get darker as they approach the shadow boundary line, sometimes it'll stay one light value all the way until it just reaches the boundary line and then abruptly darken into the shadow, sometimes it'll gradually get darker and darker at an even pace. Looking is what's important, notice the subtlety of the transitions, none of them can be described with absolute certainty, they're mysterious, and it's impossible to draw them with accuracy because vision isn't accurate. Also notice the type of info the transition types give you, some things look flat, others round, if you draw the correct transition type you'll draw the correct surface.
another case that underscores the importance of careful observation.
The method of drawing the sections of a sphere in order to render it is taken from Loomis's "Successful Drawing". "Half way to black" is taken from Scott Robertson's matte surface rendering dvds.
Also note where I specifically said to do a study from life. The purpose of the drawing wasn't a demonstration of skill but only an example of the concepts in an obvious form.
Read the entire post before responding.
"Successful Drawing" page 81:
in loomis example look at where the bands are placed and the way the values are distributed. your example is linear. a plane at 45 degrees (or half way from the light) is not 50% bright, is not half way from black. anyway, what's so aribitrary about it? light behaves in a predictable fashion. there is nothing 'mysterious' about it. nor was there anything arbitrary about how you were laying actual value ranges 1,2,3,4, etc... things that just are not true or that simple. i'm a fan of scott (i took his class) but what you describe borders on misinformation. it's okay i mean that's all there is in art education it seems but i gotta call it when i see it. this is not a criticism on you cause i think you may have took it that way but rather the information. and since information doesn't have feelings all should be well.
Last edited by steve kim; November 19th, 2007 at 08:43 PM.