Hand Drawing Tutorial #7 (Part 2): Shading as Jigsaw Puzzle

January 27th, 2011

The shading process – although it creates the 3D look in your drawing – is actually as simplified and flattened as the drawing stage.

Part 1 of Hand drawing tutorial #7 described the “jigsaw puzzle” line-drawing stage of this sketch.  Please look back at that post for a video of how I built my jigsaw drawing and its connection with right-brained seeing.

We’re now going to shade (render) your drawing.  This is the process that will give it a three-dimensional appearance.

Left: Jigsaw schematic of right-brain seeing. Middle: line drawing from Part 1 of Tutorial #7. Right: finished sketch #7.

I ended my last post with the thought:  “It’s interesting that my final assembled jigsaw resembles a common painting style in which shapes are simplified and surfaces appear flattened. Even though my actual drawing is realistic, my underlying  thought process sees each bit of the drawing as a highly simplified, flattened shape.”

The shading process – although it creates the 3D look – is actually as simplified and flattened as the drawing stage.  When I render a drawing, I’m looking for simply-shaped areas of light and dark in my “posing” hand,  duplicating them on my drawing.

At the end of this post is a video of the entire drawing and shading process for this hand pose.  Below I’ve placed a few still frames.  If you look carefully at their shaded areas, you’ll be able to see how I viewed each area of shadow as a simple shape.  (See below the images for more details.)

Building areas of shadow. (I added more contrast to these still images to enable you to see these areas more readily.) See text below for detailed explanation.

In Frame 24, I began shading with a triangular area at the left base of the hand and wrist.  I then noticed that the pinky finger created another dark area underneath where it folds over.

A vital tool in shading is … squinting your eyes, which enables you to see light and shadow more clearly.  If there isn’t a lot of light-shadow contrast on your hand as you’re drawing, the harder you squint, the more clearly you’ll see what little is there.

In Frame 26, I began to render the ring finger and pinky.  Notice that that the visible finger segments weren’t uniformly one shade.  They had a blob of darker shadow near the joint topmost in the sketch.  This was a product of the lighting conditions on my hand at that moment.

You will need to look at your own fingers to see what kind of light and shadow is is on them.  Use your squint!

Frame 27: I added blocks of shading at the base of the palm.

By the way, a drawing can start looking worse at this stage because you’ve gotten part of the shading done but not all.  So the image is starting to look more 3-dimensional, but out of whack because it’s still incomplete.  You just need to keep moving forward, seeking out all the areas of various depths of shadow and light, and eventually your drawing will look right.

Frame 34: I was now working on the pointer and middle finger, and deepening the shadows in general.  Again, note the areas of differing darkness in each area of the fingers: the joints tend to be lighter, while other areas are darker.  The shadows and highlights on the fingernails are different from those on the fingers because of their shape and the smooth hardness of their surface.  Your careful observation of your own hand will tell you where to place the areas of shade in your own drawing.

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