I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

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Friday, June 3, 2011

"Shadows"

I watched “Food Inc.” on PBS last night. Seeing various factory methods of killing and butchering livestock is almost enough to make me a vegetarian. Almost, but not quite, since our factory produced produce is also disgusting. Saying I “watched” the show isn’t exactly true though. I furiously doodled the night away in an attempt to avoid looking at unhappy animals knee deep in their own manure and worried looking chickens watching their compadres getting their heads cut off. I guess some good comes out of my random doodles and a too-graphic show. I randomly sketched shadows, and wouldn’t you know it, Illustration Friday’s Penelope chose “shadows” for the word for the week. Yay! I’m ahead of the game this Friday. I give Andrew Finnie credit for the inspiration since he made a comment about how difficult it is to make the right shadow for a girl’s head on a pig. He makes me laugh.

Here’s the thing about shadows: first identify where the light is coming from. If it’s outside, that means the sun. Is it morning, noon, twilight, or a moon? Not counting street lights and such, outside pictures usually only have one light source which is pretty easy to identify. Inside pictures can have multiple light sources which can make everything more complicated, but let’s stick with a single light source for this particular post, and assume the light is going to travel in straight lines. Multiple light sources are just variations on these themes.

The second important thing to remember about shadows is that they follow rules of perspective. Things are bigger the closer they are to you, smaller the farther away they are from you. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the light is going to line up perfectly with your buildings in a landscape. If you want things easy, then line things up like first cube. More likely, you’ll have to figure out how the shadow is cast by 2 sides of your cube. You’re the god of your art, so make the sun where you feel like having it. Just remember that even virtual worlds make more sense when your world has a logical system.

Another thing about light is that it can leak around like water. Maybe I’ll talk about reflected light in a later post, but for now, let’s just assume that the shadow will be darkest at the bottom of an object, and lighten the farther it gets away from that object. The stronger the light source, the stronger the shadow. A sunny day will have harder shadows than an overcast day where the light gets bounced around through the filtering clouds. Making the shadow strongest at the bottom helps “ground” the item in your picture.

Speaking of ground, I finally got enough sun to dry out my garden and I’m going to plant things today. I planned to do that anyway, but PBS has definitely motivated me to have some non-factory food this summer.

Completely unrelated to shadows or food, I’m doing a garage sale this weekend. On the list of things that are going to find new homes is a leather jacket my brother painted and abandoned at my house. I just don’t think it’s my style, but I do find it interesting enough to show you some pictures. If anybody knows how to read runes, what does this say? Brian’s not telling.

31 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shadow tips! And, yes, perfect for the IF topic this week. Re: Food Inc.-I saw it in the theater when it came out, so seeing it all on the big screen--well, I can totally relate to your observations! Cool jacket. Good luck with the sale!

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  2. Great shadow lessons.
    My husband saw Food Inc. and implemented new food rules in our home straight away. Since he is the cook, I happily agree.
    Paula

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  3. Beautifully rendered, as always!
    Shadows are a little bit like parallel worlds, visible ones, not the weird "Twilight Zone" types (that we know and love)!
    This is a great time to get out and garden, to soak up some of that summery air and harvest some of good old fashioned homegrown veggies- much healthier, too. Happy gardening and good luck with the garage sale- I'm sure there's a future owner for that jacket, "out there!" :o)

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  4. Great post. Thank you.
    Yes I saw couple of those movies myself. The inhumanity is mind boggling! Thank G-d I eat only Kosher.
    Your shadow tutorial is very good.

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  5. Nice shadow tutorial! And very extra-sensory I'd say. Much better than slaughterhouses and such.

    Nice work on the jacket. I have no idea what it symbolizes. Happy garage selling.

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  6. Great tips. I'm not the greatest shadow artist. Good luck with your sale. Don't sell any art for a buck like I did! Although I'm glad mine finally found a home that wasn't my home.

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  7. The great thing about shadows is they allow a third dimension. Two dimensions are rather flat, aren't they? Great demo Teach! Waiting with baited breath for the reflected light lesson.

    Put me in for a ticket on the jacket raffle... (kidding)

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  8. Thanks everybody! Guess I'm a bit behind on seeing that movie, but glad other people have seen it. Most of the garden got planted today, and razor wire and spears surrounding it to deter wildlife. Well, okay, not the razor wire.

    Sharon, you did inspire me to take some art with me to the garage sale. I've got fishing stuff that maybe people will buy for father's day. I'm hopng for more than a buck though!

    Rand, maybe I will do something like a raffle if the coat doesn't sell tomorrow. It might be hard to sell a leather coat when the forecast is for 87 degrees F. Maybe I'll do a silent auction or put it on Craig's List. If I get enough money for it, I could take my brother to dinner.

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  9. Linda, seriously consider putting the jacket on eBay. You might be able to take us all out for dinner... Just saying...

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  10. Hmm. Now I'm reconsidering how much it might actually be worth? I mostly wanted to find a good home for it, but also thought Brian's work ought to be worth something.

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  11. It is pretty cool, and one of a kind. Let me know how it goes... :o)

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  12. Sorry to take the focus away from your wonderful art Linda. I will make amends, trust me.

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  13. No problem. My art this week is ball point pen sketches. It's nice to see Brian's work appreciated.

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  14. Hey Linda! A great lesson on light and shadows. They ARE one of my many weaknesses. Halfway through an illustration I will realize that my lighting is coming from two different directions and the shadows are long and short. Hey artistic license right?
    Finally planted my tomatoes. The weather has finally cooperated.
    I think the runes on the jacket say “do not sell at garage sale, worth much more.” Great post as usual Linda.

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  15. Funny Jack! I'm thinking about putting a sign on the coat that says make offer and see what happens. I finally got tomatoes in too. Maybe I'll do a post on multiple light sources so you can justify your shadows :)

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  16. I love this. When I doodle, I always do these shadows and contrasting. I find it soothing...lol! (shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head, thinking, I'm so weird) :)

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  17. nice post Linda, I should pay more attention to my shadows. I tend to get confused sometimes, I even make notes if I am working on a piece for an extended period.

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  18. Hey Indigene, if you're weird for doodling shadows, then what does that make me?! Let's just call ourselves special :)

    I make notes to myself too Karen. A lot of time just putting an arrow on my drawing to remind me of the direction of the light source.

    Thanks for the comments!

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  19. Thanks for sharing your doodles! I should practice more...

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  20. Lovely post with lots of great drawing tips, thank you! I love shading too, sometimes I do it for no good reason though, oops.

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  21. Another great lesson, Linda! I think I need to work more on angled light sources. I tend to make things simple with one straight overhead. And wow, that is a cool jacket! Good luck with the garage sale!

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  22. very nice work Linda and your lesson is very true!

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  23. very cool. I remember those drawing diagrams from books when I was a kid. I never followed the rules and I still don't.... but you'r drawings are charming.

    (I am a vegetarian, but for a very unusual reason.

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  24. Your brother always does some interesting stuff! So did you end up getting any offers on the jacket? I enjoyed the art lesson and will refer back to this one.

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  25. Thanks everybody! People liked the jacket at the garage sale, but there weren't any takers. I guess that means I'll put it on eBay or Craig's List unless anyone feels like making an offer for it. I've never sold anything like this online before, so maybe I'll learn some new skills. I did sell one painting at the sale. (Though not for $1!) All in all it was a good day and I enjoyed hanging out with my friend.

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  26. My friend Michael translated the runes for me: Life feeds on life. Or, if you really want to be literal about such things, runes are little pictographs, pictures that mean things. Brian's runes equals a lot about horses and cattle and wealth that way, but my guess is with the skull on the jacket, he meant life feeds on life.

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  27. Hahehehhhe :) That's a wicked laugh :) Oh what a great tutorial, I envy your rational and irrational mind, the beauty of your mind is that it has it's own helical logic in that things may not look like they will meet in the beginning often meet in the end at the most unexpected places.

    Your brother's jacket is cool, but whenever I wear mine mean dudes give me the evil eye and I have to explain in a mincey voice that it's really part of my ballet wardrobe (last season's ballet so they are not jealous)...

    Oh the runes? I guess they say "I nost or my teef in a wumble"

    :)

    seriosuly, thankyou for being kind to me and thanks for the shadows! that reflected light thin is a bonus and I await your tips on that with held breath - really! reflected light is one of those 'truth' things in paintings ...

    see you sorry to be late I 'bin' busting my abdomen trying to get some stuff made!

    cheese from Oz :!

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  28. Just got out of the shadow's to see this one Linda...great post. I think I am not early for next week's I.F -LOL!
    Jane x

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  29. Thanks for the comments! I'm starting to think I'll have to do the reflected light post, but that's going to take some forethought and more doodles. Go ahead and breathe Andrew! It may take me a while to get that one done!

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