## Shadow Shapes: Examples from Life Drawing

As a follow-up to the last blog, with examples from mastercopies of Pierre-Paul Prud’hon, with their corresponding shadow shapes, here are some examples from one of my Florence students, Randy, of shadow shapes from the live model.

In all three cases, we did not take the drawing further into the realm of a finished drawing, that is, put in the fall of light and big form modelling.  Rather, these drawings are sketches, which is to say: measured porportions, proper balance and composition, construct, well-articulated and refined shadow shapes, some modeling of structural half-tones in the lights, and some accents in the shadows.  This is the goal we are aiming for in a one-evening pose.

## Articulating and Massing in the Shadows

The question has come up a number of times in class as to what constitutes a shadow and at what stage of the drawing should one differentiate between differing values of shadow.
The most important principle to remember is that shadow is where light from the single direct light source doesn’t reach.  So, if the light is coming from top left, it stands to reason that everything facing away from that light source does not receive direct light, and therefore it’s in shadow.  In this example, where light is from top left, all planes facing to the right and facing down, will be in shadow.
Inside the shadows there may be some light bouncing back off a prop or another part of the body, back into the shadows.  That is called reflected light and is part of the family of the shadows.
Derek has kindly done a tracing for us of all the shadows in this Prud’hon figure and filled it in with a value #5.  This is the stage that every drawing should get to, before proceeding to the rendering of the lights and the variations of the darks.  The shadow shapes, and the light shapes are well articulated, and there is now a foil of grey for all the shadows and a base of white paper for all the lights.  There is no differentiation between lighter and darker shadows, bed-bug line, cast shadows, reflected lights etc.  All the shadows are value #5.
As for the lights, all previous marks, such as construction lines, centre lines, quarter- and half-way measurements are erased.

– Pierre-Paul Prud’hon

In reality, we are less likely to encounter a pose with so very much reflected light, and the following drawing, also from Prud’hon, is a more typical situation.  One again, we have top-left lighting.  Notice how all the shadows are facing away from that top-left.  Especially noteworthy is the lower part of the leg on our right.  It’s facing away from the light, but is getting a lot of reflected light.  According to our light logic, therefore, it belongs to the shadows and is treated as such from the beginning.  It’s worth noting, by contrast, the upper part of the leg on our left.  This part of the leg is a place that is receding in space (slightly) towards a locked knee.  It isn’t quite in shadow, but it is receiving much less light and is therefore part of the darker half-tones.

Pierre-Paul Prud’hon

## Stages of a Fully-Rendered Figure Drawing

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Stages of a Fully-Rendered Figure Drawing
In Classical Drawing, we are not so much drawing the figure, as drawing the light and shadow, which will reveal the human form.  This is a step-by-step approach that employs layers of increasing refinement and sophistication at each stage.  The rule is always, to go from the general to the specific, to work from the big form, to the ever-diminishing smaller and smaller forms, but to always stay in the context of the large statement.
Different stages will require a different way of seeing, and a different way of thinking, and a different way of handling our material, all of which will be covered in class time.
I have used a drawing from an unknown 19th century Portuguese academic artist for this demo.  Please excuse the graininess.  As you will see in real life in class, the original demo drawings are much smoother and much more subtlely rendered.
1.The Block-In
Spend the first five minutes observing the model.  Specifically we are assessing the pose and how the weight is balanced in this contraposto arrangement.  With a plumb bob, we make mental or written notes of vertical alignments, and decide which plumbline to choose for this pose.  After making a small thumbnail (about 3” high in the corner of our paper), we then set about measuring the halves and quarters on the height of the model.
Then we start the block in of our drawing.  Mark the top and bottom, and with a ruler, draw the vertical plumbline and measured quarter marks on that plumbline.
Using comparative measurements, we block in the feet, then using vertical alignments, we work our way up the legs, to the knees, which should be in the vicinity of the first quarter.  Continuing with very general envelope-type bock-in sketchy-ghosty lines, we make our way up to the hips and the major changes of direction there, then the waist and eventually to the armpits.
Once we have reached the armpits, we start from the head down.   First the head, then the shoulders and then the arms.
2. The Construct
The construct stage is fairly quick, but crucial.  We observe where the centre line of the model’s torso is.  That is a construction line that starts at the pit of the neck, down the sternum, down the abs to the bellybutton, and then down to the pubic region.  This construct line will give us the gesture and swing of the torso, as well as the division of left and right for proper perspective. We can then place a line across the centre line that is the bottom of both pecs or breasts.
We will also place a centre line on the head for the centre
Just as we blocked-in the outer contours in a general fashion for the first stage, this is the stage where we block-in the general idea of where the shadows will go, and then place a light tone in the shadow areas.  This tone can be #2, or #3 value.
4. The Articulation
We are now in a position to judge all our shapes better, because of the light tone placed into the shadow areas.  The drawing has moved from a general line drawing to one that is concerned with masses.
First we should assess whether all the large shapes are right, and make corrections to the big picture first.  We assess whether our measurements for quarters and halves were right, whether our alignments and placements of hips, waist hands were right, and most importantly, whether that top quarter has been properly apportioned to the head and shoulders.
Once those major corrections are done, we can now go through form by form, with all the smaller undulations of the shadow areas, and their corresponding light areas.  We make those smaller articulations, and tone in that shadow area darker, to a value #5 or #6.
In this stage we are creating a two-tone light-and-dark silhouette.   The two tones are the white of the paper for the lights and the #5 or #6 of the shadows.
We make no differentiation between anything in the lights, nor anything in the darks.
5. The Fall of Light
This stage and the next one are concerned with establishing a context for the lights only.  Not the shadows.
The fall of light is the idea, which can readily be observed, that the brightness of the light from our single, overhead light source, diminishes as it travels further away from that source.  So the top part of our model receives brighter light and then brightness gradually drops off the further down or 6 feet model that it travels.
So we place a smooth gradation of tone from the ankles up to the bottom of the rib-cage.
Typically down by the ankles we can start with a value #3 and gradate slowly and evenly till we get to the #1 (the white of the paper) and the bottom of the rib-cage.

6. The Big-Form Modeling
This stage is also conceptual in nature.  We should understand our guiding principle, that we always work from the biggest form, the biggest idea, the most general statement to smaller and smaller ideas, forms and details.
In this stage therefore, we need to step back from the notion that we are drawing all the details of the model in front of us, and engage our conceptual brain, that is going to see each part of the model in its most basic geometric form.
Once again, we are concerned with creating a context in our lights (not the shadows).
Right over top of the Fall of Light (above) we model the big forms of the cylinders (all the limb segments, and the torso), the sphere, or ovoid of the head, and the semi-spheres of the shoulders, and the cubes of some of the joints, such as the knees.
This stage changes the graphic look of the previous stages to one of a volumetric statement.

7. Variations of the Darks
Now that we have established the context for our lights, we turn our attention back to the shadows.  In this stage, we aim to bring all our shadows to a complete finish.
We deal with the absolute darkest areas first, that is the hair in shadow.  Then we move to the bed-bug line and the turning of the outside form away from us.  There may be some more variations in the dark areas such as the armpit or a continuation of some forms such as ribs, pelvis into the shadows.
The tonal range in the darks should be minimized, so that the viewer’s eye is less drawn to the shadows.
Reflected lights should not be erased out of our initial shadow value, but rather, they should simply appear by virtue of the darkening of surrounding bed-bug lines, turning of the form and cast shadows.
We should pay special attention in differentiating form shadows and cast shadows and use the rules which govern each of these separately.
And we should look for opportunities to include lost edges, and soften edges where edges need to recede.
Try to simplify the darks as much as possible.

8. Rendering of the Lights
This is the final stage of the drawing, and should be the stage in which time slows down, and we focus on rendering in order, the biggest forms, the medium forms, the small forms, the micro forms and so on.
Since we have already established the general context of the lights, it’s a good strategy to develop and render each form, segment by segment, to a complete finish.
In rendering these forms, we need to be delicate and subtle, and maintain the dominance of the governing larger volumes.  Small details must always be subject to fitting into a larger context.  For each form and subsequent smaller and smaller forms that are rendered, we need to turn those forms and ensure that within its own context each form has a light, a mid- and a dark value to create the illusion of volume.
In this way we can convey the entire breadth and complexity of the human form in one drawing.

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## Light and Shadow on Geometric Forms

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Considering Light and Shadow in Basic Geometric Forms
The three most useful geometric forms we are going to consider are the sphere, the cylinder and the cube.
Let’s look at these and consider the lighting situation that we normally find ourselves in.
Typically if light is coming from above and off at and angle (in these cases the light is coming from the top left), then the lightest light will be inside the form, nearer the top and nearer the left of the form.  As the various planes of the form turn away from the light, the value of the light gets progressively darker, until we arrive at a part of the form that turns completely away from the direct light source.  From that part on, the rest of the form will be in shadow.
This lighting situation is called crest lighting, and will occur far more frequently in classically lit subjects and scenes.  The second lighting situation we may encounter is called rim lighting, where, as the name suggests, the lightest light falls directly on an outer edge.
In either case, we have one part of the form in the light and one part in shadow.
When we have blocked-in our figure or portrait or still life, the next step is to map out a light and shadow pattern, and then to get that shadow area to a value #6.  This would give us a drawing that consists of a) light, and b) shadow.  The light are is the white of the paper, and the shadow area is a flat value #6.
Most students can immediately identify variations in the shadows but not so many see those in the lights.
In fact, we need to invert this thinking and “seeing”.  In classical drawing, the shadows are areas of rest.  Details here are subdued and the range of values is compressed, in favour of bringing out details and full rendering and expanded values in the lights.
As we consider our most basic geometric forms, let us identify the variations in both the lights and in the shadows.  Once identified and named, we can more easily recall the rules of each part, and apply these logically to our drawings.

The Lights

Value #1 the white of the paper will be the lightest light, the diffuse highlight and the spectral highlight.
Value # 2 following on from the lightest light, is some slight darkening of the lights, and possibly turning of the form away from us, in the lightest area (see sphere and cylinder).
Value #3 this is the light half-tone or the normal local value of the object
Value #4 this is where the light half-tone gets a bit darker so it’s the medium half-tone
Value #5 this is the dark half-tone or the turning tone of the lights are they are at their darkest, which is just before the form turns into the shadow.
All of the above would be either the white of the paper, or rendered in gradations with a 2H and then HB in the darkest half-tones
When we render the lights, we should work with pencil strokes that follow the basic geometric form and work from the darkest part towards the light with gradations of tone that are getting perceptibly lighter.
The shadows were originally set at a value #6.
Eventually we will need to make those variations in the shadows, so here is an brief explanation of what we see:
Value #7 is right on the edge where the light and the shadow meet.  This is sometimes referred to as the “bed-bug line”, or the “terminator line”, or simply “the terminator”
Just past our bed-bug line is the core of the shadow and reflected light, which would be our original value #6.
That is followed by some turning tone in gradations which might lead us to a value #7.5 or 8.
On the ground plane is the cast shadow.
Cast shadows have their own rules.
Firstly, they are darkest nearest the form casting the shadow (value #9) and then get lighter the further away they are from the form casting the shadow.
They have an edge or an outline, which is sharper and darker nearer that original form, and this outline gets lighter and more diffuse the further we go from that form.
In addition to this, just outside of the cast shadow is a penumbra.  This is an extra secondary and lighter shadow that becomes more visible and more diffuse the further we get from our original form