Art: giving form with light/shadow - help!!

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  1. #1
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    giving form with light/shadow - help!!

    Ok so im a complete amatuer but i love drawing, and the idea of drawing. Unfortunately i still suck, but what id really like some help with right now is using shading.

    the example here is my hand which i drew a moment ago, but when doing a self portrait i have the same problem...i can identify some major shadows but i have a lot of trouble using light and dark to show things like veins in my hands or give my hand/face more definition and shape. making it more believable. i just cant see the subtleties in light well enough to put pencil to paper and bring it out

    does this make sense? how should i practise/learn shading to get good at it...

    hopefuly this attachment works..

    i want to add more detail but how, and what! and not to mention the shadowy bit looks very unco

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    Last edited by lumar; September 24th, 2006 at 03:35 AM.
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  3. #2
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    at least direct/link me to somewhere

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    ~the shadows beckon~

    Ah - crud, just had a whole huge explanation typed out when the power went out. fucksakes. anyways.

    The first thing to remember is that you are almost never trying to redraw 100% percent what you see. This is because, usually 100% what you see doesn't make for a good drawing, and you fix this by interpreting your subject and taking matters into your own hands. It is up to the artist to make a good drawing, not the subject matter.

    Judging lighting is always hard.
    * For starters get a really sharp light into your studio or whatever. This will give a bigger difference between light and dark and make it easier to judge.
    * Also, try squinting at your subject - once your eye loses all the details, there is onle light and dark.
    * Establish as few highlights possible. Ideally speaking, you'd have one highlight per subject and everything else gets darker. This enhances the idea of form and light falling onto it.
    * Likewise, make sure there aren't too many dark/black accents. Black is something that destroys form, and you probably want to stay clear of it, adding dark accents on the final run just to give the drawing some punch.
    * Work with reflected light - even you don't see any reflected light on the subject, implement it. Relfected light is really important for creating form and often for seperating various elements.
    * When working with colour, it becomes a lot more complicated - colours change in hue and temperature to represent light.

    Remember: "We do not depict shadows - we use the to depict" - Mentler.
    Hope this helps but ideally you'd want to get yourself an artbook. Loomis has a great way of explaining it, you can download some of his book from here

    have fun!

    - d.

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    Start by drawing some white objects with simple shapes.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

    Perspective 101, Concept Art 101, Games Industry info,Oil Paint info, Acrylic Paint info, my sketchbook.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seedling
    Start by drawing some white objects with simple shapes.
    Eggs are good.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by demented
    It is up to the artist to make a good drawing, not the subject matter.

    - d.
    Couldn't have said it better myself!

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    I was just working on this the other night for my sketchbook.
    take look at how Durer does his rendering. These are over 200 years old but worth the time to look at and study.
    giving form with light/shadow - help!!

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    ^ But don't fall into the newbie trap of really over do-ing the chalk highlight side of things!

    Be very strict with the chalk, like the man himself above.

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    Loomis advises to stay clear of chalk until you have a very decent understanding of not only lighting but draing in general. That siad, Durer is a wonderful example of how lighting can be applied in painting. Also be sure to check out Caravaggio and Rembrandt for colour.

    @k4pka: haha - thanx!

    - d.

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    A great way to learn value(light to darks, finding the perfect balence).
    Is to do a real slow, long(3 hours +) study of a photo(really big is best, with really bright sections, and blacks).
    It helped me a lot, and improved my rendering-just my 2 cents

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    great, thanks demented and everyone for such helpful replies. when i get home tonight ill grab an egg or somtehign and put my bed lamp on my desk.

    shall also dig around for a good photo / take one , as i very much like that idea.

    i printed out and bound the loomis figure drawing book but man its dry. still, ill print out whichever other one looks helpful too. i like book form instead of pdf on a computer screen for things like this, heh.

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    The squint test is HUGE. It will reveal strange and counterintuitive truths to you. As an exercise, I was helping a friend render an eraser sitting on top of a sketchbook. Squinting at it made me realize the brown cardboard of the sketchbook appeared almost as bright as the white eraser; the sides of the white pages were darker than the brown cardboard. Things like this are counterintuitive to beginners, and so they either aren't noticed or they get ignored. Look for these nuances and use them. Trust your eyes, not your ideas of how things "should" look.

    One of the big problems with the hand you posted is that the shaded areas are darkest right next to the highlights, which are quite large. You should have a smooth transition between them, reserving white for only a few areas. Shaded areas generally should be their darkest where they are close to the object edge, but not quite there. Reflected light will create a slightly brighter rim on the very edge.

    Don't rush. Take your time.

    Don't work too large at first. Smaller drawings make it a lot easier to create the forms. It's difficult to work quickly at the size you're using.

    Keep your pencils sharp and use the edge, building up tones slowly. Don't just press the shadows in with one firm stroke--slowly layer with light pressure, building up the nuances.

    Worry first about overall forms. Details can be added later or omitted.

    Don't rely on outlines when doing realistic renderings. Look around--there are no outlines in real life. You can use them from time to time when they really help you get the point across, but avoid overusing them. Instead, use contrasting areas of tone to imply edges. A dark area that suddenly cuts to a light shade gives the impression of an edge just fine.

    Keep drawing! If you're not satisfied, figure out what doesn't look right and try again. Remember, working small at first will help a lot.

    Good luck!

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    Datameister, that advice is awesome man, nicely done!

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    Why, thank you, sir!

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    yeah thanks much data. however, the size wasnt all that big.. it was a fairly small notepad, a bit smaller than A4 hah not one of those A3 units, my my

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    it was a fairly small notepad, a bit smaller than A4 hah not one of those A3 units, my my
    That's still a relatively large drawing if you're having trouble getting the basic principles. I'm talking about doing some drawings that are only a few inches on each side. These are much easier to do quickly and you won't have to worry so much about large-scale blending. You could even buy an A6-size pad or something similar so that while you work in it, you don't have the option of going huge. (This has the added advantage of portability.)

    Would you mind posting some sketches of spheres, cylinders, and other primitives? If you can render basic forms correctly, a lot of other stuff suddenly becomes easier.

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    I agree that starting with primatives is best. Might consider doing a couple still life drawings with a variety of objects lit by one or two light sources.

    Other suggestions:
    1) Studying black and white photography
    2) Copying drawings by the masters - dont' just look at Durer, copy the work - it will help your anatomy and rendering at the same time
    3) READ books by Burne Hogarth - so many artists buy his materials and never bother to actually read what he has to say(!!)
    4) Consider video tutorials -- I recommend Vilppu's personally
    5) Use different mediums other than pencil. Try crosshatching with pen/ink and charcoals

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    You mentioned a desk lamp. If you use a bright light thats basically shining right on top of your subject, the thing you're trying to render gets blasted with light and there will be less sublety there for you to work from. Try a diffused light that comes from one direction. rig up a piece of tracing paper in front of the light source (making sure that it won't end up in flames, of course), or aim the light at the ceiling so that it bounces toward your subject. See if you can block light from the rest of the room. Simplify, and it will make life easier.

    Also, like they said, squint. You don't have to make a bitter beer face, just tilt your head back and look through your eyelashes. Squint at the subject. Squint at the drawing. Open your eyes and look at both, then squint again. Spend most of your time looking, instead of drawing. Sqint, squint, squint!

    And read this book:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/14264

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    Here are some notes that I've put together on the properties of light for my students, its very much in flux right now, I'm going to expand/edit it once I get some free time, but it should give a decent overview of how light works. The illustrations of the light balls, were done by the multi-talented Douglas Higden check out his cool paintings at http://higden.net/Master-float-set.htm the guy has skillz. Oh th eball is a mouseball that was photographed! what a cool idea.
    I hope this helps.

    giving form with light/shadow - help!!

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  21. #20
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    Nice job, David. Here's my own, far sloppier, example of the same info.

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    Last edited by Elwell; October 15th, 2006 at 06:42 PM.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Cool stuff, T. I'm saving it.

    I recommend the book "Light for the Artist" by TS Jacobs. It really explains light completely.

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    i love this forum

    ok data ill do some spheres, cylinders, cones and things this weekend dude (today is thurs) and post em. ive been quite busy as its end of semester..unfortunately not an art course either heh.

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    heres a few primitives data (and whoever else wants to comment), i think the cone and cylinder came out pretty crummy.

    one think id like to ask is, i really like how cross hatching looks instead of the gradient style pencil shading... is there any good cross hatch reference that anyone could point me to so i can practise that as well?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lumar
    heres a few primitives data (and whoever else wants to comment), i think the cone and cylinder came out pretty crummy.

    one think id like to ask is, i really like how cross hatching looks instead of the gradient style pencil shading... is there any good cross hatch reference that anyone could point me to so i can practise that as well?
    For strong hatching or linear shading, try to look at some etchings, woodcuts or engravings,
    durer is great to look at. I posted some hatch value drawings on my sketchbook thread, but I don't hatch too much. just lines that follow the form to sort of grab the eye and pull it around the forms.

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