Best way to learn light and shade
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    Best way to learn light and shade

    Hello there,

    I am currently a year 3 student on a computer game arts course hoping to one day be a concept artist. One thing which is really letting down my art, and not allowing my paintings to be as solid as they could be are my values when painting.

    Simply, in your experience, what was the way you really came to understand light and shade? Was it simply through looking at how light affects a cube, cylinder, cone etc memorising the lighting patterns in your head and apply those patterns to other forms? Was it through still life drawings using objects from around the house?

    Any input you have on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    Chris

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    the way I got better results is to look into simple objects and light them with a single light source. Really look how light describes form, and change the light directions to get a better understanding. From simple to complex, always. Working from life, thats about it.

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    Do all of the above from life.

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    JeffX99 is offline Registered User Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    Again yes - all of the above, and more. But there is no "memorising"...beyond understanding the simple principles of how light illuminates form. It is helpful to understand that shadow is actually what informs us about light...the same way blowing leaves inform us about wind. There are some basic shadow types: form/volume shadow (sometimes refered to as shading) which is soft edged and tansitions from light into shadow around the form, cast shadow which is the result of form blocking light - generally a harder edge and contact shadow where forms touch.

    A good way to see value is to squint at the subject - this simplifies the shadow patterns. It just takes practice trying to see and interpret light and shadow on form.

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    One difficulty for beginners with just looking is that our visual system is organized to see through the very gradations that you are trying to study, so students find it helpful to sometimes see a posterized greyscale photograph of the subject.

    Original image from here:
    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/021.php

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    Great information, thanks for all you replies. The David Briggs image is quite useful, separating the colour gradients up the way it shows in the image is really going to help me get my head round values, thanks for posting that.

    The research i have done so far i have only seen spheres as examples, if anyone could send me a link or an image to other shapes like cylinders, cones and cubes in similar light and shade situations, that would really help me out. Of course that's really not too important as i can just take the photographs myself, but just thought i would ask none the less.

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    Great diagram above and pretty much hits the nail on the head. Just looking at a ball under a lamp is great you really don't understand what is going on till you do some research on the matter. Light in all its wonder bonces and its because of light that we have soft or hard edges on objects when observing them. Distance also will affect how light reacts to objects or how objects will be preserved to us.

    The wrought I took was purchasing a good art book on the subject matter of lighting, did real life study's with a lamp and simple geometric objects, read up a bit on what light is and how it works. I think the fun part with art is learning how to perceive the world around us and why it works the way it does so that we can duplicate it or imagine another world that is similar so its believable. Its easy to throw out the term on your piece that your subject matter is a alien in a alien world in a alien space so none of the laws of nature apply to your work but when you do this you remove the ability for the viewer to cohesively bind with your work so it becomes less believable and more random at best.

    If your going to do this might as well call it modern art and force the viewer to do all the work.

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    Thedeo which book did you purchase on light and shade? I have been searching for a good light and shade book and couldn't find any. Thanks for your reply also, I intend to do all those things you, and others have mentioned.

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    Another exercise I found valuable is to approach a still life as an abstract painting that needs to be copied. Forget about light and shade and form, and just try to get the right colours, placing little swatches, through continuously comparing the various swatches with each other and the still life. It helped me to see colours, and brought me numerous surprises...

    Grinnikend door het leven...
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