Shadows and lightsOnce you have chosen and framed your subjects and then observed and traced the perspectives, the study of the shadows and lights is essential to bring realism to your scenes. In fact, they will give all their relief to the forms you will draw. If you observe the objects around you, you will notice that the relief depends on the quantity of light that they send back. Thus a dark object will always appear flatter than the same clearer one. The photo of the car above will more or less show you the bottom bend in the door depending on its color (white or black). In the same way, an object enlightened by the front, by the side or by the back will react differently in terms of relief. Indeed, depending on the quantity of direct light or on the opacity of its color, an object will appear with more or less relief. This is why in winter a landscape will be duller, sadder and without life, than in summer or in spring, under a radiant sun. When you will study your compositions or landscapes, you will have therefore to pay attention to: The direction of the light (be careful to the reflexions as for example on a mirror placed on the side of an object)
- The intensity of the lighting
- The type of light (sun, artificial light, clouds, interior, exterior...)
- The color of the object The more a light is strong and direct, the more the object will present contrasts and very highlighted shadows (White/Black). The more the light will be diffused and weak, the more the object will be grey and uniform. The choice of a light is essential to determine the atmosphere that you wish to give to a drawing. In the above example of a white statue, we notice that : - A natural light, diffused, uniform and especially full-face (photo 1), returns a flat objects, with little relief.
- The usage of a flash (photo 2) reinforces the relief. This is simply due to a unique light direction (the shadow testifies it) and a more important intensity. Therefore the object sends back more light. Nevertheless, be careful to the flash and the artificial lights that cancel the colors!
- A light direction by the above, called «zenithal» (photo 3) considerably changes the shadows on a subject. In the present case, the upright shoulder of the woman is not highlighted anymore (she is in the shadow) but in the same time the focus is on her hairstyle (that was unnoticed in the photos 1 and 2). All will depend on the detail you wish to highlight.
- The ideal case will be an oblique light, of a 45° angle, because it will bring a well divided light and the cast shadows will not bother the designer.
- A lighting coming rather from behind and that is called «light from behind», will of course leave the frontal part of the subject in the shadow. Photographs hate such kind of light !
- At last the lighting going up from the bottom, called «low-angle shot», is very rarely used. It gives a dramatic aspect to the enlightened subject. If we now linger over the shadows we will say, first of all, that if there is not any light, no shadow will appear... While lighting up a subject, we create shadow and light zones that form what we call the «modeled». Two categories of shadows exist : - The «clean» shadows that are located on the object itself.
- The «cast» shadows that are located on the environment of the subject and are created by the subject (photo 2 of the statue where the shadows are located on the wall behind). The cast shadows are a projection of the subject on its basis and therefore in the continuity of the light direction.