Thursday, August 23, 2007


Shadows define form. That much should be obvious, really. The silhouette of an object has a certain sense, right? It has the shape, but it's a flat container. On the other hand, a picture with just two colors, one for light and one for shadow, can give a good sense of the form, the full shape of the object in three dimensions. If you want to define the shape of an object in a painting, cast a shadow across it. The boundary between light and dark gives a picture depth.

And this is why you, or rather I, can get in a lot of trouble doing shadows from imagination. I suppose it's the next step after being able to do outlines from imagination, and it takes the process to a new level of difficulty. Mistakes in judging where shadows will fall will make the picture look wrong. For example, see above.

Some of the shadows are OK, but some of them feel wrong. I might be able to bluff my way through, but a good reference would have saved me all sorts of trouble. The problem is that I come up with these pictures from my head, and then have to try and find reference that works. Unless I can take a picture with the right pose and lighting myself, it's unlikely I'll find one that matches closely enough to use.

So anyway, that's my big problem right now.

Another problem is the way the two parts (the two characters) clash. Somehow they're not coming together in that proper giant floating head way. Maybe this is the design. Maybe it's the way the colors have turned out so far. Maybe it's even the shadows (which are part of, or related to, the design). I've got to figure it out. I hope I can figure it out.

Onward ho.


Hasa said...

I think it would work if you loose the neck and shoulder, basically just cut something off at the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin. Shadows... I like this drawing, but I see what you mean. For instance, there should be some shadows on the skin, I think (I see the one from the pants on the leg, but parts of the leg should also generate shadows on other, occluded, parts). I used to create very rough models on my PC with 3DStudio Max or Poser to get the general shadows right. And then I would work on my drawing. I tried physical models, but with 3DMAx I can put lights wherever I want...

colin said...

Thanks hasa and psyclone.

hasa: Possibly that might help. I can experiment and see, thanks to digital. ;) On the other hand, my feeling is that the face is too crowded, almost into the space occupied by the figure. Also, there is not enough of a difference between the two in terms of texture and light, so they seem to occupy the same space, and you get a very weird effect. I have a few ideas of what to try...

psyclone: Actually, I was pretty happy with the shadows on the figure, except, as you noticed, that the shadows on her skin are too faint. It's true they might need to be widened a bit as well on the shadowed part of her legs. I was more concerned with the large face, which is... bleargh.

I've tried 3D modeling, and it is even more frustrating than trying to take pictures, for me. ;) The 3D modeling I have available doesn't have the level of detail that would be much help in that face. I suppose it would help get the basic shadow areas down, though. Maybe I'm making excuses. ;)

Thanks both for your advice!