To: (Recipient list suppressed)
Subject: Your July 29th, 2002 Communique

July 29th, 2002


Your July 29th, 2002 Communique


Howdy all,

Today's communique will focus on a quick little funneling technique. What the
heck is that? Well, maybe that's not the right name, but it's a good descriptive name for
the process you go through when you try and collapse all the little shadows in a face
into distinct drawable shapes. (This zine is in response to a question someone off the
web threw at me.) We've talked about this often before, but the question still comes up.

Back to shadows and highlights

Drawing shadows and highlights accurately is probably one step you can take to hop
up your likenesses, well, like HUGELY :-). The problem most people encounter though
is trying to decide what shadows are worthwhile drawing, and to what level they need
to draw them at. (That is, often times shadows are shades within shades and there's not
a lot of sharp demarcation between separate colors or shadows.) Being color blind is
actually a benefit when it comes to drawing - actually differentiating - shadows and
highlights - you just don't as caught up on all the different shades, tones and gradations
of color as people with normal vision.

So how do you decide what's a worthwhile shadow or highlight?

Trick number one is to learn to see shadows and highlights as shapes. How do you
do that? Easiest way is to squint. What's squinting do? It actually does two things:

1) it literally gets rid of 60 - 80 percent of the color and shades/grades of tone. This
helps like gangbusters towards seeing all those grades as the same color. Which in turn...

2) collapses those colors into drawable shapes. That's the funneling I guess: starting
with all this overwhelming detail and funneling it down, reducing it to something drawable.

Older computer's do a great job of this: in the old days when there wasn't much
color depth built in to them, they automatically grouped colors that were close to
one of their available programmed colors  as all the same color. And you ended up
getting images like the single shot of Lyle Lovett below (lyle-comp-rdy-2-solo.jpg).

Here it is:

Look at the bigger picture

If you look at the composite picture (lyle-comp-rdy.jpg - see just below), you'll see 
three more views. The first is the original color scan of a marker-colored Lyle. The second of the three pictures shows a gray scale version and the third is the cross-hatch version. Now take a step back from your monitor screen, squint, and tell me if the shadow shapes don't all start looking almost exactly the same. And what abut the colors? Do they start looking the same too?

You can do the exact same thing as you look at a live person - and collapse all those
different shapes into larger, more easily understood shapes. Is this making any sense?
I feel like maybe I've gotten redundant writing about this so often, but here's the payoff:

as you get more into incorporating color, you learn to see first see the general shapes
- without squinting - and then you can work all those different textures and colors and
subtle highlights and reflected light into your pictures making them explode with
depth and realism  - even if they're caricatures. So that's  what you can shoot for. (See
the Philip Burke site for some groovy color caricatures.)

I'll reiterate something here too: while squinting, did you notice how little it mattered what
style the picture was colored in? Grayscale, colored marker, or cross-hatched, the overall
effect was pretty much the same. Right?

See some Philip Burke paintings...for example:

Also look at this page for more explanation (go about half way down the page)

The other really neat thing about recognizing shadows and highlights as distinct shapes
is this: as unique as a person's features are (their eyes, hair, eyebrows, ears, nose, lips,
mouth and teeth, shape of the head), so are the shadow and highlight shapes of their face!
This is often overlooked - but spend some time recognizing how much shadows add to
the look of the face, and you'll have a whole new understanding. (The brain does
this unconsciously on it's own.)

If you're at a gig...

If your'e at a gig, and you got control over lighting, (or if you got a portable light all the
better), experiment with strong angle of light, the kind that sets off your subject with bright
brites and strong shadows. This might make it easier to capture a likeness even if part
of the face (like the half in a shadow), becomes harder to see. Don't worry about that,
the strong shadow shapes will be unique for each and every person you draw. Experiment!

Lastly, if you've just signed up...

Lastly, if you've recently signed up, make sure you get your downloadable "Flash Interactive
Exercises". They're a goodly leap up from just reading off your screen. Even if you're not
into Lesson 15 yet (a book within a book), you'll get all sots of insights. I hope :-) Just
don't let yourself feel overwhelmed. Click on the links below to download and see
the archives for more of an explanation:

The Archives (9 January 2002 - for more explanation):

Well that's all for today, keep on drawing and be fearless!




Jeffrey O. Kasbohm
Executive Director

(952) 544-0657
1351 Hampshire Ave. So., #127
St. Louis Park, MN  55426

"Once and for all  getting you drawing faces and caricatures"