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I think I took the instructions too seriously; whatever I set up ended up with loads of really bright, obvious fill light from the computer screen, so I just turned off all the lights and used the laptop as my only light source. This made for a super low-key, slightly creepy portrait, which was honestly pretty fun... I usually go for high-contrast lighting.
Mass Light/Shadow/Halftone/Core Shadow - The mass light to the left and shadow to the right is really obvious, but figuring out what to call the forehead was a bit more difficult... at first I was thinking a really big area of halftone, but since the light is slightly below the head, it's more likely a lighter part of the mass shadow. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I think the mass light is a much smaller area than I'd originally pegged it. Then again, I think I see the core shadow along the right ridge of the nose and forehead, so now I'm just confused. Maybe the lack of significant fill light makes core shadow sort of moot.
Highlights - There were really only two major highlights, the tip of the nose, and the light reflecting off the glasses. Everything else was too soft for any proper bright points.
Reflect Light - There isn't much, though there's a bit of reflection in a couple of places - a little light reflecting off the hair on to the side of the forehead/cheek, and light reflecting up into the underside of the chin.
Cast Shadow - The light being slightly below the face made the most obvious cast shadow the one the nose is casting to the left, and somewhat upwards, and the one the chin casts to the right side. Also very small, thin cast shadows where the hair hits the face.
...Yeah, I definitely made things way harder than they needed to be by picking such a weird lighting situation, but all the same, the principles should apply and I'm kind of ashamed I'm struggling so hard to figure out what's what.
your challenging yourself is a very good thing. That is a very challenging light source setup to deal with and you did great for a first shot at it...really great. my question would be why the light on the chin is coming from a different direction than the light on the rest of the face. I think the chin and mouth area could use a little more love...same for the glasses area on the right side of your face (the actual right side). You are very talented. Don't give up on this piece yet if you can still get that lighting situation...
Regarding determining what things are...the biggest thing is that you are now aware and are thinking about it. If the plane is turned away from the light source it is likely shadow. If it is just starting to turn away from the light source then it would likely be transition half tone.
I love how dark this piece is! It has a really great mood to it. That one reflection on your nose is really nice.
You have really nice confident brush work. The face is nice on the eyes to look at and doesn't have any major flaws in construction or proportions that stick out.
I'm really confused by where the laptop light is coming from though... the nose being so dark on the bridge makes me think the laptop is sitting lower than your face, casting light upwards a touch, but then the bottom of your chin (under your jaw) should be illuminated a bit if that were the case, but you've rendered it in shadow, so I don't really know how high the light is in relation to your face, only that it is on your actual right.
It may not be wrong though, just not obvious when viewing. Trying to figure it out.