Tip

Keep your kneaded eraser clean by continually kneading it! If you don't keep turning the eraser in on itself, it will not be able to erase more graphite, as the surface will already be overloaded with too much graphite. Keep finding a new surface to use.

The reflected light is the area of the shadow on an object that is lighter than the darkest part of the shadow. This lighter area within the shadow receives more light because the shape of the form in that area turns in a particular way or begins to face a new direction, and so can be influenced by light that is bouncing off other nearby forms or surfaces. The reflected light may also be caused by a secondary light source.

Dean, as an art instructor, has a saying that he finds himself often repeating to his students: "Don't fall in love with the reflected lights!" The reason for saying this is because many students tend to overmodel or overstate the lightness of the reflected light by making it as light as, or lighter than, the tones in the lit part of the form.

The most likely reason for this overstatement of lightness is the tendency to focus only on the tones within the shadow and not consider the shadow in relation to the light part of the form. The result of overmodeling a form is that instead of enhancing the volume of the form, it does the opposite and flattens it out. It is an understandable phenomenon. In the quest to heighten the three-dimensionality of objects, we try to use all of the devices at our disposal to create the illusion of reality. We see that seductive reflected light in the shadow, and we "run" with it. This is an example of why it is so important, when looking at your subject, to try not to look "into" one small area, but to compare a given area against all of the other areas of your drawing in order to create a scale of tonal relationships. This will render convincing light, form, and space in your work. Look at drawings by great masters. You will see how they understate the reflected light.

The detail above illustrates the use of reflected light on all three objects—apple, vase, and orange—from the still life used as a previous example. Notice how the reflected light helps give the illusion of the form turning away from the viewer, thus enhancing its voluminous quality.

In the portrait, the reflected light is functioning in a similar manner. It allows the center of the face, where the features are, to come forward, while the reflected light in the shadow recedes spatially. Notice that the tone of the reflected light is substantially darker than the tones on the light side of the form. The use of reflected light also adds a transparency to the shadow.

Tone Building Drawings

Head Study, by Dean Fisher

Head Study, by Dean Fisher

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