Artist Amy Wynne compares figure drawings with frontal lighting to ones with raking light illustrating how using light and shadow amplifies a figure's dimensionality and creates a sense of space.
- [Instructor] Considering the lighting of your subject is critical to making a beautiful volumetric drawing. Let's compare this Rafael drawing to the Millet on the right. In the Raphael, here, brown conte chalk is used to create dramatic light and shadow patterns, as the light falls down from the upper left. In the portrait of Ophelia, here, Millet uses a more diffused light and captures subtle tonal shifts with a graphite pencil.
Both effects are beautiful, and create very different moods. So, how did these artists build these drawings with such dimension? The first step is simplifying. Everything on the body can be broken down into simple geometric volumes, as seen here in this Raphael drawing. They can be broken down into box-like shapes, into egg shapes, and into cylinders. Ultimately, all of these forms can be rendered with light and shadow.
But we have to start with the basics. Illuminating simple shapes with a single dramatic light is terrific practice for tonal rendering on the figure. Lighting is really key, even in practicing these basic concepts. Notice the difference between these shapes when they're viewed in flat light or direct light. This block transforms when it's illuminated form the left. The light hitting this front facade and then casting this beautiful shadow off to the right. The egg transforms as well, with the brightest bright up on the upper part of the egg, and then the cast shadow going off to the left.
And the cylinder really takes on dimension when the light comes in, hits the front facade, rakes around and then creates a cast shadow. If approaching total rendering feels daunting at first, just know we can start with simplifying the figure into classic 3D geometric shapes. A block can be the heel of a foot. An egg can be a rib cage. And a cylinder can be a thigh. Let's practice this first with simple shapes, and then see how we can easily apply this to our figure drawings.
- Creating a five-part tonal gradient
- Flat vs. dramatic light
- Rendering light and shadow
- Lighting your model
- Adding tonality
- Simplifying figures into basic volumes
- Silhouette and camouflage