This image shows a central light surrounded by spheres or globes and how this illuminates one side of each sphere, causing a shadow on the opposite side. The sphere placed on the ground will also cast a shadow, stretching away from the light source. Notice that when the sphere is lit directly from the front or behind, it tends to lose a good deal of its three-dimensional qualities in the stark contrast between the surface that is lit and the other that is all in darkness. The maximum three-dimensional effect is obtained by lighting an object from one side or the other at ninety degrees to the observer's line of vision.

The artist usually encounters a straightforward situation of light illuminating the drawing subject from one main source. With artificial light, it may be more complicated, but for most purposes you are dependent upon a single, directional light source, which helps - as perspective helps - to produce a convincing illusion of the solidity of objects.

The second image shows how the appearance of different objects is influenced by the direction of the light. Coming from the top left, the first schematic head is lit on the top, down one side of the face, one side of the nose, the upper edge of the upper lip, the lower lip and the top of the chin. The eyes are both in shadow, the right one more so, as are the right side of the nose, underneath the nose, the upper lip and under the chin and down the right side of the head and neck.

The second head is far less simple than the first, with rugged features, including ears. A strong light shines down from the same angle and once again hits the top and left side of the head and all the features. Even the eyelid catches some of it and, where the bone structure juts out most prominently, you get highlights on the forehead, cheekbone, nose, lower lip and chin. However, added subtlety is obtained from reflected light, which often bounces back from a pale surface (like a white wall), to 'fill out' the shadowy side of the head. Reflected light will be colder (blue here) and much smaller in area than the main light falling on the left. Again, it tends to catch the bony edges of the head. This can give even more conviction to your drawing, so remember to look for it when you are drawing from life; and if you draw from memory, don't forget it may help give greater dimension to your picture.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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