LINE DRAWING: PRACTICAL

Plate XIX. ILLUSTRATING CURVED LINKS SUGGESTING FULLNESS AND FORESHORTENING

Plate XIX.

ILLUSTRATING CURVED LINKS SUGGESTING FULLNESS AND FORESHORTENING

I should not have troubled the reader with this tedious diagram were it not that certain facts about light and shade can be learned from it. The first is that the high lights come much more within the edge of the object than you would have expected. With the light directly opposite point 7, one might have thought the highest light would have come there, and that is where many students put it, until the loss of roundness in the appearance of their work makes them look more carefully for its position. So remember always to look out for high lights within the contours of forms, not on the edges.

The next thing to notice is that the darkest part of the shadow will come nearest the lights between points 3 and 5. This is the part turned most away from the direction of the greatest amount of reflected light, and therefore receiving least. The lightest part of the shadow will be in the middle, rather towards the side away from the light, generally speaking. The shadow cast on the ground will be dark, like the darkest part of the shadow on the cone, as its surface is also turned away from the chief source of reflected light.

Although the artist will very seldom be called upon to draw a cone, the same principles of light and shade that are so clearly seen in such a simple figure obtain throughout the whole of nature. This is why the much abused drawing and shading from whitened blocks and pots is so useful. Nothing so clearly impresses the general laws of light and shade as this so-called dull study.

98This lightening of shadows in the middle by reflected light and darkening towards their edges is a very important thing to remember, the heavy, smoky look students' early work is so prone to, being almost entirely due to their neglect through ignorance of this principle. Nothing is more awful than shadows darker in the middle and gradually lighter towards their edges. Of course, where there is a deep hollow in the shadow parts, as at the armpit and the fold at the navel in the drawing on page 90 [Transcribers Note: Plate XVIII], you will get a darker tone. But this does not contradict the principle that generally shadows are lighter in the middle and darker towards the edges. Note the luminous quality the observation of this principle gives the shadow on the body of our demonstration drawing.

This is a crude statement of the general principles of light and shade on a simple round object. In one with complex surfaces the varieties of light and shade are infinite. But the same principles hold good. The surfaces turned more to the source of light receive the greatest amount, and are the lightest. And from these parts the amount of light lessens through what are called the half tones as the surface turns more away, until a point is reached where no more direct light is received, and the shadows begin. And in the shadows the same law applies: those surfaces turned most towards the source of reflected light will receive the most, and the amount received will gradually lessen as the surface turns away, until at the point immediately before where the half tones begin the amount of reflected light will be very little, and in consequence the darkest part of the shadows may be looked for. There may, of course, be other sources of direct light on the shadow side that will entirely alter and complicate the effect. Or one may draw in a wide, diffused light, such as is found in the open air on a grey day; in which case there will be little or no shadow, the modelling depending entirely on degrees of light and half tone.

In studying the principles of simple light and shade it is advisable to draw from objects of one local colour, such as white casts. In parti-coloured objects the problem is complicated by the different tones of the local colour. In line drawing it is as well to take as little notice as possible of these variations which disturb the contemplation of pure form and do not belong to the particular province of form expression with which drawing is concerned.

Although one has selected a strong half light and half shade effect to illustrate the general principles of light and shade, it is not advisable in making line drawings to select such a position. A point of view with a fairly wide light at your back is the best. In this position little shadow will be seen, most of the forms being expressed by the play of light and half tone. The contours, as they are turned away from the light, will naturally be darker, and against a light background your subject has an appearance with dark edges that is easily expressed by a line drawing. Strong light and shade effects should be left for mass drawing. You seldom see any shadows in Holbein's drawings; he seems to have put his sitters near a wide window, close against which he worked. Select also a background as near the tone of the highest light on the object to be drawn as possible. This will show up clearly the contour. In the case of a portrait drawing, a newspaper hung behind the head answers very well and is always easily obtained. The tone of it can be varied by the distance at which it is placed from the head, and by the angle at which it is turned away from or towards the light.