Lighting the Figure

Light is essential to sight. Without light there is no sight, at least not with our natural eyes. Because figure drawing begins with seeing, a book about figure drawing should have some significant information on the nature of light and how our eyes perceive it. Understanding how light works on objects in a scene helps the artist create a feeling of depth and substance in a drawing. In Figure 7.1 the lighting on the dress indicates that it is a dark satin material.

In nature the artist often doesn't have much control over the lighting of a scene. About all that can be done to change the lighting is to wait for the sun to move to a better position. Once the sun is in the right place you had better draw quickly, though, because it will continue to move, changing the lighting. In the studio the artist has a lot more control over the lighting of a figure.

In a studio situation the artist can change the lighting of the figure by moving the light sources or by opening and closing window coverings. Too often the artist does not take enough time to make sure the lighting of the figure is exactly right. When using a virtual model, such as in Figure Artist, lighting becomes even more critical because all lighting in the scene is staged in the program. Not only does the artist need to understand how to move lights, he also must understand how to simulate actual lighting effects from real life.

Take a look at Figure 7.2. Can you see any lighting problems? Would this lighting setup make a good figure drawing?

In this chapter we will be looking at how to light a figure. We will also cover many aspects of shading your drawings.

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