September 16th 2000

*******************************************************************'s Insiders Communique


In this issue - 

1) Mini-Primer on the logic of light

2) Shadowing and shadows specific to the nose


1) Light Logic

Light has logic. That's the first thing to remember about light. We talk a 
lot about left brain and right brain stuff but when it comes to light and 
shadow, there's a definite logic to it. Still what you see, what's 
observable out there in the world is easily broken down into one of the 
five categories of perception: perception of edges , spaces, relative 
angles, light and shadows, and the overall gestalt. You are using one of 
these perceptive faculties every time you drop into "r-mode" while drawing. 
Today we're going to race through light and shadows. (The big lesson is 
lesson 9 in the Artist's Loft.)

Quick review of Light Logic: 

Off the cuff rule #1: light travels in a straight line.

Off the cuff rule #2: Light travels in a straight line until it hits 

Off the cuff rule #3: When light hit's something it lights up what it hits 
(- even if what it hits is entirely transparent).

Off the cuff rule #4: Light is either partially absorbed by what it hits, or 
it's reflected back into space (which gives us color).

Off the cuff rule #5: shadows are formed behind objects that block light. 

Experiment #1

Seems pretty straight ahead, right? And really, it is. Take a flashlight, 
darken the room, point the light at your hand. The part of your hand that's 
getting bathed in the light, lights up. The other side of your hand, the 
part away from the flashlight, well it's in the dark. Just like the dark 
side of the moon. Dah, right? And, if you start making funny figures with 
your hand in front of the flashlight you'll get a puppet show on the wall 
behind your hand - pretty simple concept and a simple example. 

In a real life situation, like when drawing faces, there are other things 
to be concerned about - like reflected light - subtle light that lights up 
even the shadow spaces. Shadows aren't one plain color in this case. For 
today, we aren't going to worry about all that. I just want you to get one 
simple idea: Light lights up what it hits, and casts a shadow behind those 
things it hits - or said a little differently, light casts a shadow where 
it's blocked from going. 

Experiment #2 

Lets put you in the dark for a second. Turn on a light at home. Look at the 
light. You see the bulb? It's actually pretty bright. Do the natural thing: 
block the light with your hand. Now you're looking at the shadow side of 
your hand. And your eyes, well they're not strained any longer. Why? Because 
you're casting a shadow on yourself. Again, light travels in a straight 
line. (We're not even gonna touch what Einstein said about curved space and 
how light refracts in reason to overcomplicate this.) Just like 
an arrow shooting from Cupid's bow, light's going to hit you or your subject 
if you're in it's path.

Experiment #3

Now pretend you're the flash light - look around your room, at any object. 
Pretend you're radiating light from your eyes the way Thor tosses out 
lightning bolts or Godzilla shoots out his freezing breath. Anything you see 
with your eyes, is being lit up by your light or frozen by your breath. The 
back side of what you're looking at, the parts you can't see, are in 
shadowland, they're protected. Imagine it's dark, pitch black on all those 
far sides. They don't get lit up by your light or frozen by Godzilla's 
breath. Light from a single source works the same way. That's the simplest 
example of how light works - in a straight line.

Experiment #4: 

Still the best test is simple observation. Just for fun, grab that 
flashlight again. Go to your bathroom (or any room that you can get dark 
that has a mirror). Move the light around your head. Hold the light directly 
over your head, then to the left and right. Move it backward and forwards 
and watch how the shadows on your face change shape. (Emphasis on "shape".) 
Then squint and see the shadows take on much harder edges - hard enough 
that you can easily make out the shape of each shadow. 

Of course, you have to DO this exercise to get the whole effect. Go for it! 
What the heck, take 5 minutes right now. Let your brother or sister, or your 
mother or father or your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, whoever - 
think you're a little weird for 10 minutes. It'll help your drawing, your 
chutzpah, and you'll even get a little kick out of it. 

Watch how all the shadows on your face move together. The shadows under your 
eyebrows, over your cheeks, in your mouth, under your lips, under tour chin, 
from your ears - they're all synchronous. And this makes make sense - one 
source of light, one direction of movement to the shadows. Do the Boris 
Karloff, Halloween, Friday the thirteenth "underlighting" move: put the 
flashlight under your chin and point it up. Yes, looks pretty bizarre. Give 
an old werewolf growl for special effect. Still notice that ALL the shadows 
move synchronously since there's one light source. Pay special attention to 
the shadows cast by your nose. 

Shadows are clues

Shadows give you a huge clue about the light source, about where the light 
is coming from. Look at any picture in a newspaper or magazine. Locate the 
shadows, work backwards and piece together the light source. You might just 
figure out why a picture you're looking at looks "weird" - there's strong 
shadows coming from two different directions. (A lot of photo-retouching or 
photo-comopositing used in advertising gets published without "cleaning up", 
that or they haven't taken the YouCanDraw Course :-).

Shades of shadows

Most of the time when you're drawing, your light is coming from above your 
subject, and not just directly above them like at high noon, but usually 
from above and to the side a little. We're going to look at three positions 
real quickly: high noon, from 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock. (Roughly.) I think 
when Suzy sent me her pictures, she wanted me to concentrate on the mouth 
and lips. I couldn't help but notice a small shadowing conflict though.

The most important thing to remember about shadows next to the idea above 
(that light travels in a straight line), is that shadows are shapes lacking 
in light, or have diminished light - but they're all shapes. This is a key 
point. I'll repeat that again. Shadows are SHAPES. Even a complicated shadow 
with lots of different tones in it can be broken down into larger, easily 
drawn shapes. How do you simplify all that complicated stuff going on 
inside a shadow? Very simple. Squint.

The power of squinting

What's the best way to break down a complicated shadow? Squint! Squinting 
instantly simplifies even the most complicated shadows - and it'll collapse 
the most complicated contours in to something you can easily manage. 

Look at the picture on the far left in the attached picture (the one that 
ends with "shadow21.jpg") It's a young women resting her chin on her hands. 
There's lots of detail - it's full of complicated shadow shapes and fine 
detail. I'll bet there's 20 to 25 or more different shades of gray. Minimum!
Now look at the middle picture: I've simplified this in PhotoShop to where 
there's only 5 shades of shadow and light. I've done this with a computer 
but you can do almost the same by squinting.


In the last picture on the right, I've reduced the tones of gray down to 4 - 
notice how the detail disappears and the shadow shapes really come out. Also 
notice that even with the loss of detail, the women is still recognizable. 
Look at picture one (the far left picture) and go through a range of 
squints. Pretend you're Confucius getting more and more profound as you 
squint tighter and tighter, "Yes, veddy impo-tant" . The tighter you squeeze 
your eyes, the less detail you see. Very drawable shadow shapes solidify 
out of all the confusing detail.

Lastly, back away from your screen 2 or 2 and 1/2 feet. Squint again, this 
time scanning back and forth across all three pictures. Notice something 
familiar? They look almost identical as you squint. Getting rid of the 
detail doesn't seem to hamper your brain one iota from recognizing the girl. 
That's the brain's ability to recognize patterns at work. Lets zoom in on 
the nose. 

2) Shadows specific to the nose 

There are three or four main shadows on the nose - yes you can go for 
subtlety and see hundreds of different shades and contours - but we want to 
look for generalities when you're just getting started - and this is what 
you want to do when your doing caricatures at a gig - you don't want to get 
bogged down in all that detail. These main shadows areas are most notably:

1) the general shadows cast directly under the nose;
2) the shadows of the nostrils - (shadows within the shadow cast under the 
3) the lighter shadows on the sides of the nose
4) the shadow on both sides of the nose at it's root. (the "root" of the 
nose is where it pops out just underneath the forehead, right between the 

Look at the second attached illustration (ends with "shadows.jpg"). It's of 
three noses with light coming from three slightly different directions. (All 
from overhead and in front. The center nose has light coming from directly 
over head, the left nose with light coming from our right, and the right 
nose with light coming from our left. - It makes sense when you look at it.) 

The nose and shadows: "shadows.jpg"

Note how the shadow is cast in line with the light source - just like you 
saw when you toyed with the flash light on your face above. (You did do 
that, right? :-) Note especially, the shadows at the root of the nose (up 
there by the eyes). Note the shadow shapes of the two noses with light 
coming at angles. Compare and contrast them to the shadow shapes with nose 
in the center.

Back to last communiqué's example

See the third illustration (the one that ends with "mouth11.gif"). Last week 
we noted the nose had a small alignment maladjustment, and we discussed how 
that could be fixed. Applying what we've seen in this short lesson, you can 
tell that the shadow cast on the nose seems to be coming from a different 
source than the shadow in the mouth. The light casting shadows inside the 
mouth (which Suzy has rendered beautifully), is coming from the right and 
front. The shadow on the nose's nostril area suggests that the light is 
coming from our left. How to fix this?



Solving the shadow shenanigans

Try this: if you cover the nostril with your finger, (go ahead, put your 
finger right up on your computer screen), the shadowing on along the 
vertical edge of the nose works - it's consistent with the mouth's 
shadowing. So I think the shadowing problem with the nose could be solved 
very simply: shadow the area of the nostril's opening (because light would 
be blocked from the overhanging bulk of nose from above), and add the shadow 
under the whole base of the nose like you see occurring around the nose in 
the far left example of "shadows.jpg". 

In fairness to Suzy, who has most graciously allowed us to use her drawings 
so we all can learn, I don't think she has any problem with drawing shadows 
(I've seen other complicated pictures where she's handled it masterfully) - 
it just so happens that in this picture I think she threw on a last second 
nose without thinking about the "logic of light". So thank you very, very 
much again Suzy for your courage and generosity. Let's give her a big hand! 

Send me your pictures and questions!

Any one else who'd like their drawings evaluated to the benefit of all 
members, and earn a place in the permanent collection, please send them to 
me at:
c/o Kasbohm & Company
4702-c West 130th street
Los Angeles, CA 

(If you send originals and want them back, please include a self addressed 
and stamped envelope.)

Until next time, keep on drawing! 



Kasbohm & Company's

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e-mail: jeffkaz@YouCanDraw