Am­bi­ent light

Dis­cover how to ren­der dif­fused or am­bi­ent light and im­merse your fig­ure art in soft and sub­tle shad­ows. Chris Le­gaspi passes on his ex­pert knowl­edge

ImagineFX - - Contents - Chris is keen to share his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of fig­ure draw­ing and paint­ing. You can see more of his work at www.learn-how­to­

Am­bi­ent light­ing feels more nat­u­ral and real­is­tic be­cause it pro­duces soft and sub­tle shad­ows. This subtlety is beau­ti­ful to see, yet it takes skill and pa­tience to draw well.

First, I ob­serve the light and the shadow pat­terns. I block in the dark­est ar­eas such as the eye sock­ets, un­der the neck and any dark-coloured ob­jects – hair or cloth­ing, for ex­am­ple. My edges are ex­tra soft and I ap­ply a medium-to-dark value tone us­ing big, broad strokes. Then I sim­plify the head into an oval shape and add gra­di­ents of tone in two di­rec­tions: bot­tom to top (ver­ti­cal) and left to right (hor­i­zon­tal). I sim­plify the neck into a cylin­der and add gra­di­ents of tone. This helps to set the stage for the ren­der­ing and cre­ates sub­tle half-tones.

I then ren­der and model smaller forms and fea­tures. I sim­plify these el­e­ments into flat, geo­met­ric planes, which en­ables me to add tone as planes that turn away from the light. To model fea­tures, I fo­cus on ei­ther the to­pog­ra­phy or the sur­face of the form, in­stead of try­ing to match the val­ues. Fi­nally, I add straights and hard edges. I’ll also ap­ply a rough tech­nique, which adds con­trast to the soft, ren­dered ar­eas. Be­cause am­bi­ent light draw­ings are so soft and sub­tle, edge and tech­nique vari­a­tion makes the draw­ing more in­ter­est­ing, life-like and be­liev­able.

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