How can I quickly paint dramatic cast shadows?
Wilbur Hawthorn, US Answer Tom replies
The great comic book artist, Wally Wood, once wrote, “Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up.” Indeed, there’s no need to make drawing and painting any more difficult than it already is. Using photo references, applying textures directly onto an object… these are just two of the ways art software helps you to realise an image.
If I’m in any doubt as to the way shadows would fall in real life, I test them out with 3D posing software. I mock up a quick scene from some prefab models and primitive shapes and then I draw the finished piece over the top. This keeps my shadows accurate and enables me to focus all my drawing attention on the details that the reader is actually going to see.
For this prison scene, working out my lighting in 3D saved me hours of working out the logistics of complex cast shadows. Although 3D tools can make certain aspects of the job easier, a strong sense of composition and staging are still required for setting a scene.