How should I treat shadows on a character’s body?
Bolton Hole, England
There are various factors that will affect how shadows appear on a person’s body. These include the colour and strength of the light casting the shadow, the nature of the ambient light, where on the skin the shadows fall, and proximity of the character’s skin to other coloured objects. What this means is there are no simple rules for creating shadows, but here are some basic guidelines.
First, avoid applying flat colours to your shadows, because flat colours equals a flat image. And expanding on this, as well as tonal variety, try to use more than one colour in your shadows.
Unless an object is actually black, try to avoid painting with black because it will deaden the area that it’s used on. As a general rule of thumb, I like to use cooler, less-saturated colours in my shadows, and warmer colours for my highlights. An exception, for example, would be a hand holding a red can – as in my example. In this case, I would use the red reflection in the adjacent shadows.
Finally, a shadow’s softness or sharpness is dictated by the type of lighting and object’s shape. Yet because sharper shadows help to make an image pop more, I like to work my lighting so I can have a few feature contrast and/or hard edge shadows on show, usually around the neck, under the nose or from an arm.
Drink Bere and learn a little bit about painting shadows on skin with Michelangelo and co!