The Figure in Light

The Colored Pencil Course

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For some reason many students seem to have their greatest difficulty in what they call "shading." This is probably because there is no such thing as "shading," in the sense they mean. The term "modeling" is more accurate. The student wants to add tone lo outline, so he is likely to put in a lot of meaningless grays and darks between the outlines.

What lie must do with tone is the same thing the sculptor docs. The shadow is a tone that is governed in the first place by the value in the light. Things have what we call local values, which means the material or substance is light, gray (or a color darker than white), or dark. Put them in any light and the values keep their relationship to one another. A dark suit, For example, would never be as bright in value as flesh, if both were rendered truly.

When working with pencil we seldom attempt to get all the values in scale as we would with paint, When there is bright light and strong shadow we take some leeway, but we suggest some tone in the lighted areas of dark materials, making the shadow quite dark. For flesh, which usually is fairly light in value, we leave the lights as white paper, for the pencil does not give us quite the range of tones from light to dark that paint docs. So in pencil drawing the best effects come from keeping the strongly lighted areas very delicate in modeling. Getting effects in the lighted areas too dark makes drawings appear muddy or heavy.

When working in pencil, I try to think of about four tones, starting just beyond white, or as light as you can state a gray, then a gray, a dark gray, and a black. Thus the whites arc extreme lights, the delicate grays give some form to the lighted areas, the grays become the halftones, and the dark grays and blacks are reserved for the shadows.

There can be no formula, because every subject has its own particular values, determined by the light, its direction, its brilliance, and its particular effect upon the local values, tint die student can gain much understanding of light very quickly if he can learn to distinguish the differences between areas of light, halftone, and shadow, and set them down. Even if the values in a drawing are not true, the correct separation will give solidity to the drawing. Instead of trying to match all the grays of a photograph which you are using as copy, just look for the shapes of light, halftone, and shadow. Sometimes there are tones within a shadow where light is re-Hooted; you must draw these also, even though they are submerged in a lower all-over tone.

It is foolish to try to fake the lighting on a seriously drawn figure, Lighting is much too complicated and subtle to guess at. Either have a figure to draw from or get some good photographic material. It may bo helpful to work from copy first, and from life later. The ideal thing is to enter a class in life drawing. Most classes work in charcoal, which is even more flexible than pencil as a material, for it can be easily erased. If you are studying the figure at home, get some charcoal, charcoal paper, plastic or kneaded rubber, You will also need a drawing board. Remember to keep darks and blacks out of the lighted areas, exccpt where you find accents of shadow within or alongside of these areas. Keep a long point on your pencil or charcoal so that you can use the tip for line and the sides for tones.

Get some good books on figure drawing, and some on anatomy. If you practice a good deal on still-life drawing, too, you will draw the figure much better. Light is light no matter what it falls upon, and it always follows the form with light, halftone, and shadow.

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Depicting Character hy Means (if Li^hl on Form

The only way to capture the character of a head successfully is to understand the forms which make up the particular individual. No two are alike, so there can he no formula, except for construction, proportion, and lighting.

True enough, wc can make caricatures with line only, but even in these tire forms must be seen, understood, and expressed. The whole head is the result of the forms which combined make up its bulk or mass, It is possible to exaggerate the forms somewhat, which is what caricaturists do, but. make no mistake, these fellows can do that only because they have a keen sense of form. ( have exaggerated some of the forms in the heads on the following pages, liy stressing the shapes that are peculiarly characteristic, we often get more than photographic likeness.

J 11st as in the figure, we look for the big forms first — the shape of the skull and the face, and the placement of the features. Then wc take just enough of the? incidental to bring out the character. This is not a matter of tracing down contours, for most of the importance lies in the forms within the contours, to make these forms exist, establish the effect of light on them.

Sonic of the heads shown here may not be familiar to the younger generation, but they arc, or were, all characters. They include Einstein, John D, Rockefeller, fliravn Maxim, Von Hin-denburg, Will Rogers, Churchill, and Adolph Menjou. To us as artists, these men, aside from their deeds and accomplishments, are so much proportion, spacing, a combination of forms in light and shadow. If we were to shift one feature of any of these faces, such as putting the nose of one on the face of another, the whole effect would be lost. If wc can see the forms but cannot draw them in combination with everything else, we might as well start selling apples, as far as drawing successful heads of individuals is concerned. The old masters, who had no cameras, took measurements of faces and features with calipers. Some, like Sargent, succeeded in training their eyes to measure proportions with a profound degree of accuracy. Some students get everything too wide for its height; others make the opposite error, Even the best artists must continually adjust proportions in their drawings, when drawing from life, But the ability to do so docs eventually come with practice.

A much easier and surer way of seeing the forms is by looking at the lights, halftones, and shadows. These reveal the form though it differs in every lighting. Hence the importance of selecting a simple and easily decipherable lighting. We should know the direction of the light source on every inch of the Surface, The minute light from more than one source strikes the same surface, it upsets the sequence of the operation of light as we know it.

Studio photographic portraits are not too good to work from unless the photographer has really clinched the form. The trouble is usually loo many lights and crisscross effects, which are most difficult to reproduce in a drawing. Clippings from motion-picture magazines are nearly always bad. Such photographs are also copyrighted and may not be used for anything but practice. Naturally a drawing of any public figure must be made from copy of some kind, It is best to gather as many clippings as possible and build the character from all the information you have, You have a right to draw your version of any public character, even in caricature or cartoon.

The best practice is secured by having people sit for you, though it is not an easy way to work. Study them for individual characteristics, and stress these. A sharp face can he a little sharper, a round one a little rounder, and so on. Eye-sockets arc more important than irises. Only the bones of the face keep the flesh in the shapes we see.

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Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

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