Thursday, 6 December 2012

Quick Tips: Shadows are not solid objects

Having been teaching for a few years now, it seemed like a good idea to share some tips, based on subjects that students often find difficult. I plan to make these ‘quick tips’ a regular feature on the blog. 


How to avoid common mistakes when depicting cast shadows

Below are examples of common mistakes many students make when drawing cast shadows.  These examples are drawn in soft pastels but the quick tips can be applied to other media.

This first image shows a jet black shadow with no graduation in tone.  This makes it look a bit like a hole in your drawing!



When drawing in colour remember that shadows also contain colour they are never completely black, although in some cases a touch of black may be needed.  Shadows also graduate in tone, the darkest at the base of the apple and getting lighter the further from the source. 


This second image shows an outlined shadow that has also been drawn before the table surface was added and has been shaded in using curved marks that give the impression of a solid object.

Shadows are not solid objects.  Please don’t try to draw them as if they were.  I don’t recommend outlining any part of your drawing but especially not shadows.  Draw your solid objects first; the apple and table surface then add some background before adding the shadow. Without these elements the shadow could not exist in the real world and therefore cannot exist in your drawing.  Once you have the apple and table draw the shadow using colours that correspond to your composition and shading that follows the same direction as the shading used to describe the table surface.  Don’t be afraid to leave some of the table colour showing through the shadow this will make it appear less like a solid object and help unify the composition.  See below.



Happy drawing!
Remember to check back for more quick tips.

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