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  1. #1
    Junior Border Walker's Avatar
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    Shadows/Shading tips?

    One of the hardest subjects for me in artwork I always find is Shadows and shading. There has never been an instance where i have been able to completely understand shadows when I'm working with them. While I understand the concept of "Remember where your light source is from" and that Shadows in reality have a color to them based on reflective light, Shadows still confuse me in prospect and how they should fall on a person or object. With that said, maybe this can be a thread for a general help and tips on Shadows, which might be a tough subject for a lot of people? Highlights too, since they go hand in hand.

    Starting off, Here's a piece I was working on that I've since stopped working on due to difficulty in shadows. I had posted it's sketch previously in another thread for tips on anatomy and got some tips, and now I'm seeking more. [For those curious, here's a linework only version: Click! ] I'd love help with shadows in it. I thought of having the light coming from behind between the buildings but eventually just kinda gave up cause I'm not even sure how to best capture color with some of the other things (Buildings, the very dark purple suit, etc). Any tips welcome. And as said, general shadows/shading tips too. I feel like this might be a common problem with people almost as on par as hands and feet are.

  2. #2
    Junior Algorithmus's Avatar
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    I once did a tutorial about global lighting, which you can find here: http://angelus-tenebrae.deviantart.c...rial-177489941

    Basically, the more you understand about light physics and optics*, the easier it will be to figure out where to put shadows, and how to highlight and shade stuff. However, I don't expect every artist to be an expert in physics, and while it is a huge benefit, it's probably just something to keep in mind. But in general, whenever you're shading something that has a background, it would be a good idea to start with the background and ignore all the smaller, lesser foreground objects because it makes it easier to decide how to shade everything in front.

    What also helps is just looking at reference pictures and studying them. Look for things like the range of colors and tones they are using, and also pay attention to the materials the objects are made of. Shading a piano is vastly different from shading human skin. I think you can just get used to and be able to understand how the lighting works in general by studying a lot of reference pictures.

    Also, if you are concerned with technique, I would suggest starting off with broad brush strokes and then refining them last. Don't worry about the details first. Everything may look ugly and blurry at the beginning, but this should just be done to help you figure out if there is something wrong with the way your objects are shaded (for example, you might shade something badly, and it will look like there's a dent where there shouldn't be; instead of worrying about wasting too much effort shading in all the details, you can simply change it. The beauty of this is that you don't need a lot of details in your shading to see where something went wrong.)

    *Basic primer about lighting and physics:
    The reason you are able to see anything at all is because there are light rays bouncing off of objects and hitting your eyes. The problem is that these light rays are only able to bounce off of one side of the object, so anywhere where the lights are unable to hit are where you will place your shadows. Where the object generally appears to be shaded darker. So if you have an object that is facing your light source, and you place the viewer behind the object and facing the light, you will mostly see a dark shaded object because you are seeing the side that isn't getting hit with much light. If you place the light source between the viewer and the object, however, you will definitely be able to see most of the details on that object, as you are seeing the side that's being hit by the light. That's a simplified example though because we assume that the object doesn't reflect light like a mirror does (Google diffuse reflection and specular reflection). Different objects reflect different wavelengths of light, which is also why objects appear to be of a particular color. The other rays of different wavelengths that are not reflected are absorbed by the object. So for example, black objects absorb all light rays (it's comparable to light rays not hitting an object, so they have the "illusion" of both appearing dark), whereas a red apple absorbs all light rays except the rays that correspond to low frequency wavelengths (which are attributed to the color red). And as you might guess, white objects reflect every light ray back.
    You may notice that much of this theory gets used in 3D rendering and modelling, but it's very useful in general for coloring your drawings anyways.

  3. #3
    Premium User MapleTerror's Avatar
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    (Gonna keep this short- might add more to this topic later)

    Adding on to what Algorithmus said, there are different qualities and types of light. Ex: Indoor, outdoor light. Time of day, color, etc. As for shadows, they are practically "non-existent" because shadows are the lack of light, and light is how we see things visually. Keep in mind though light bounces and reflects, so shadows almost always have some kind of light/color in them.


    With that in mind, it might also be helpful to not only study light, but how light interacts with forms and planes in real life. Ask yourself why you are able to tell the difference between a cube and a sphere, a piece of wood to a sheet of metal. Light plays a major role in vision and how we see surfaces, textures & edges- relative to the quality, type, color and position of the light(s).

    Perspective will be helpful for positioning primary light sources and placement of halftones and shadows. Try to make the relationship of your values, relative to one another and based on some kind of light source. otherwise things will seem inconsistent, out of place or broken.

    Wish I could be of more help at the moment -I should be studying...

    (Lastly, not to go offtopic- Magenta isn't a color, therefore there is no such thing as pink light)

    There are plenty of resources around the net and books to read. Give Algorithmus's tutorial a try and look at real life and compare things.
    Last edited by MapleTerror; 03-11-2013 at 09:37 PM. Reason: Magneta really isn't a color! :V

  4. #4
    Senior Kanagrooboy's Avatar
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    Try shading subtractively. Cover your subject in the shade, then erase away the parts where the light would fall. It works especially well when you want strong, dramatic lighting which would work great in something like the drawing you posted.

  5. #5
    Senior kynliod's Avatar
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    I certainly don't consider myself an expert in lighting, but here's an idea (although not always practical). If you want to study light, or need an example of how lighting would hit a subject, try making a clay model and using a flashlight to define the light source. I know you wouldn't always be ably to do this (or maybe you could, it might just be more challenging in some cases). But it's a good way to study light as well. In your drawing, for example, you could arrange the figure on a flat surface and pretend that the flat surface (table or whatever) is the wall that he's climbing. So if the light source is coming from directly above, you'd shine the light horizontally towards the model's face.

    If you're not comfortable sculpting your own models, you could maybe use one of those wooden artist models, or a GI Joe or something.

    If you want to try the sculpture version, try super sculpy--it's nice and stiff, so it holds its shape pretty well.

    While you're using the reference, try also to study and observe how the light flows, noting how the object is 3D, so it flows thusly, and so forth...

  6. #6
    Junior Algorithmus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kynliod View Post
    I certainly don't consider myself an expert in lighting, but here's an idea (although not always practical). If you want to study light, or need an example of how lighting would hit a subject, try making a clay model and using a flashlight to define the light source. I know you wouldn't always be ably to do this (or maybe you could, it might just be more challenging in some cases). But it's a good way to study light as well. In your drawing, for example, you could arrange the figure on a flat surface and pretend that the flat surface (table or whatever) is the wall that he's climbing. So if the light source is coming from directly above, you'd shine the light horizontally towards the model's face.

    If you're not comfortable sculpting your own models, you could maybe use one of those wooden artist models, or a GI Joe or something.

    If you want to try the sculpture version, try super sculpy--it's nice and stiff, so it holds its shape pretty well.

    While you're using the reference, try also to study and observe how the light flows, noting how the object is 3D, so it flows thusly, and so forth...
    While using a clay or wood sculpture for reference is a good idea, please be aware that you are referencing an object which has low highlights and specular reflection. You can use the clay or wood sculptures for lighting in general and objects made of similar materials, but this wouldn't be so ideal for stuff like hair and metal because they are shaded differently. I suppose you might want to try painting them or something if you need to reference metal or other objects with reflective surfaces.

    All I can recommend about hair without going into too much detail is to just lay off on the highlights, especially if your character has long hair. It's not wrong to have them, but please use them sparingly and note the lighting in the scene you are using.

  7. #7
    Senior kynliod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Algorithmus View Post
    While using a clay or wood sculpture for reference is a good idea, please be aware that you are referencing an object which has low highlights and specular reflection. You can use the clay or wood sculptures for lighting in general and objects made of similar materials, but this wouldn't be so ideal for stuff like hair and metal because they are shaded differently. I suppose you might want to try painting them or something if you need to reference metal or other objects with reflective surfaces.

    All I can recommend about hair without going into too much detail is to just lay off on the highlights, especially if your character has long hair. It's not wrong to have them, but please use them sparingly and note the lighting in the scene you are using.
    I agree, this method is meant more for where the light hits, not so much for how the light would actually reflect off the object.

 

 

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