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I'm struggling with one thing in my drawings. My shading is okay, for now. But, I just need more practice. But, I am having trouble with highlights. Try as I might, I just can't seem to make them "pop"
well I think the most important factor in making your highlights "pop" is to make sure your other values are correct relative to each other. For example if you dont go dark enough on your shadows, your lights will not seem as light. The way our eyes gauge how bright something is in a drawing is by comparing it to how dark something else is. Look at a white piece of paper then look at a black piece of paper with a white dot on it. Doesnt the white dot on the black paper seem wayy brighter than the white on the blank page? I hope this makes sense. Basically make sure your using a full range of values.. from the blackest black.. then save the white of the paper for your highlight and I think you will notice more of a pop. A drawing with bad value range is usually what makes the highlights seem dull.
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And don't highlight everything. Sticking specular highlights on skin, armour, hair, cloth, rock, leaves, clouds and whatever is tempting but it makes for a Christmas tree effect that causes nothing to stand out because everything appears the same.
Also, depending on what you're drawing the value doesn't have to change gradually from dark to lighter to lighter still to bright. A dark, glossy object might change value very little where the light hits it apart from in the small specular highlights, which will appear suddenly and be comparatively very bright.
Very cool. Thanks for the suggestions.
I'm in a life drawing class at this time. We have been drawing bones and muscles. But, I feel that my highlights on the structures, like the teeth on a skull don't pop out enough.
I'll give it another try. It's all about the learning, right?
Thanks much for the assistance.
I'd make sure that your value range isn't too high key. If you leave too much white paper, the highlights won't pop (because of lack of contrast). Save your whitest whites for those sharp edges or specular highlights. Something that really helped me was using a light grey paper. You can then render in your darks with graphite or charcoal and use some chalk or white paint for some really dramatic effects. Check out the artist Tony Ryder - he does some amazing figure drawings on grounded paper.
Another thing you could try along with HansBrix's suggestion is to draw from life a set of white objects under a single spotlight. Take for instance, a white cube made of cardboard, a white plastic ball and a shiny white vase or light bulb. When you see the contrast of those speculars on the white bulb or vase and compare them to the white of the vase's surface, and then also to the parts of the other two objects that are in the light, you will see that they are really alot darker in tone and must also be represented that way in your drawing.
Excercises such as that are true eye-openers, you'll understand the relations in the light more, with practice you'll be able to control close values more. Lastly, your understanding of how light and dark are truely relative will broaden...well...at least it did for me.
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If you want to strongly highlight something, it's all about the contrast with rest of the drawing. If you've got a background with almost no shadows it would seem all your drawing is lighted. And if your drawing has very soft shading, it will be almost the same.
So don't be afraid of making strong shadows followed by a highlight, without any kind of transition.
Actually that's the first step in shading, from that you should begin to add mid tones.
Anyway, it's all about the contrast. Soft gray with dark gray is not great contrast; black and white is.