Light & shadow

Well, the sun has finally shown its face in Manchester, hope you’re all making the most of the rays! In fact, we’ve been inspired by the weather to post a quick tutorial on light and shadow – hope you find this useful.

Understanding how forms behave in different light conditions can help you achieve added realism in your work. Light striking a geometric solid such as a sphere or a cube creates an orderly and predictable series of tones. Learning to identify these tones and to place them in their proper relationship is one of the keys to achieving a look of solidity. The ‘form principle’ is the analysis of nature in terms of geometrical solids, which can be rendered according to laws of tonal contrast.

sphere1

sphere2

The two photographs of the sphere show two classic lighting conditions: direct sunlight and overcast light. Each has a different set of tonal steps from light to shadow, known as modelling factors. In the direct sunlight, there’s a strong division of light and shade. The light side includes the light and dark halftones, the centre light, and the highlight.

The terminator, or ‘bedbug line’, is the area where the form transitions from light into shadow. It occurs where the light rays from the source are tangent to the edge of the form. If it’s a soft, indirect light, the transition from light to shadow at the terminator will be more gradual. The form shadow begins just beyond the terminator.

And as always, here is a selection of sketches from recent classes for your viewing pleasure! Don’t forget to bring your in to the next class to enter in the exhibition – all details can be found here.

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