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Making the Grade

Here are some basic lines strokes created with different pencil grades. Hard pencils are good for sharp, crisp line work, and they keep their points longer than soft pencils. Soft-grade pencils can make smooth, dark values. Consider duplicating these pencil strokes as an exercise, then get creative and invent other textures.

Different Folks Make Different Strokes

If you are right handed, it is natural for you to make lines moving from the upper right to the lower left. But lines may go any direction you like, depending on what is comfortable for you and the effect you want to achieve.

Making the Grade

Here are some basic lines strokes created with different pencil grades. Hard pencils are good for sharp, crisp line work, and they keep their points longer than soft pencils. Soft-grade pencils can make smooth, dark values. Consider duplicating these pencil strokes as an exercise, then get creative and invent other textures.

Values are used to create the effects of light and shadow in a drawing. To make your drawings look realistic, you will need to replicate these different light effects.

• Light Source. Basically, the origin of the light. To determine the shading and shadows of a scene, it is important to determine the position of the light source so you know from which direction the light is coming. The light source is usually the sun or a lamp, so the light usually comes from the top. A light source positioned at the top left or right will give more depth than one located straight above your subject.

Highlight. A highlight occurs where light reflects off an object. In a drawing, this appears as a bright spot. Form Shadow. A shadow on an object that gives depth and dimension to its form.

Cast Shadow. A shadow that is cast or thrown by one object onto another surface.

Reflected Light. Light that bounces off a surface and adds light to a region of the object that would otherwise be darker.

Using Light Accurately Adds Realism and Depth to Your Drawings

Light source

An Unnatural Light Source It's more than just a bad haircut that made Frankenstein's monster look scary. Placing the light source below the subject contributes to his tightening looks.

An Unnatural Light Source It's more than just a bad haircut that made Frankenstein's monster look scary. Placing the light source below the subject contributes to his tightening looks.

Form shadow

Highlight

Form shadow

Cast shadow

Highlight

Cast shadow

A Natural Light Source Moving the light source from below the subject to above gives the monster a less frightening appearance.

Reflected light

A Natural Light Source Moving the light source from below the subject to above gives the monster a less frightening appearance.

While the concept of plotting shadows may seem daunting, a basic understanding of it will help you to draw realistically. There are two primary methods of plotting a shadow. One is for when the light source is in the background and can be shown on the drawing; the other is for when the light source is in the foreground and cannot be seen directly. Both of these methods use the principles of linear perspective. You must also plot out the horizon line and vanishing points to be able to get the right perspective for the shape of the object's shadow.

Light Source in the Background

In this example, the light source is in the background. Notice that there is a line coming straight down from the light source to the horizon. That point on the horizon is the shadow's vanishing point. From this vanishing point, draw lines passing through the bottom corners of the cube. Next, draw lines from the light source passing through the top corners of the cube. The intersections between the shadow's vanishing point lines and the light source lines will make the shape of the shadow on the ground.

Vanishing point

Light source

Direction of light

Direction of light

Horizon

Perpendicular line to determine the shadow's vanishing point

Shadow's vanishing point Vanishing point

Vanishing point

Horizon

Shadow's vanishing point Vanishing point

Direction of light Direction of light

Vanishing point

Shadow's vanishing point

Horizon

Horizon

Vanishing point

Light's vanishing point

Unseen Light Source in the Foreground

Though the general direction of the light is assumed, the light source is so far away that it cannot be indicated in the drawing. Because of this, the direction of the light and where those lines would converge on the horizon will be a vanishing point. Then draw lines from this vanishing point and pass them through the bottom corners of the cube. Next, plot the lines coming from the vanishing point of the angle of the light source. Place this vanishing point below and perpendicular to the other vanishing point. From this point, draw lines that pass through the top corners of the cube. The intersection of these lines will form the shape of the shadow of the cube.

Vanishing point

Light's vanishing point

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