Before reading this tutorial, make sure you have a solid understanding of how to draw the basic shapes (sphere, cube, cone, and cylinder) and you know how to use the rules of perspective when drawing them.  The preceding tutorials explain these concepts, so once you have viewed them you will be ready to learn how to render light and shadow in your drawings. 

    Drawings that are rendered with light and shadow have presence.  The objects in them have weight and are much more convincing that line drawings. If you are shading with pencils or charcoal, it takes a very gentle touch to create that photo-realistic quality you find in some of my artwork.  For now, let's just focus on how to render the basic shapes. 
There are six different kinds of values to consider when rendering. Take a look at the illustration of the ball in the picture above that has numbers pointing to the different values.  Here is a description of each value.

1. Highlight - This is the brightest part of the subject(s) in a rendering.  It's always best to leave that area alone, so that the white of your paper will let the light shine through in that spot.  You can find highlights in hair, eyes, lips and sometimes on apples.  It's the shiny part.

2. Light - This is the local tone of whatever your drawing.  It's important not to let your drawing get too dark too quickly.  You can avoid this by applying very light pressure when shading, and by holding your medium in such a way that you have the most control over how much pressure you are applying.

3. Halftone - This is the area where the form begins to turn away from the light source.  Look at the table that shows ten shades of value.  This is called a value scale.  I highly recommend that you make your own value scale to help you learn how to graduate your shading from light to dark tones.  The Halftone is about a five on the value scale.

4. Core Shadow - This is close to the darkest part of your drawing.  This is the area of you drawing that is fully turned away from the light source, and it should be close to a 9 on the way to a 10 on the value scale. 

5. Reflected Light- Look at the table showing the angle of light and the direction of light.  Often, light will bounce off the ground or another object near by and reflect back on object you are drawing.  The light bounces off something and reflects back on the object you are drawing; causing a light area to appear just on the edge of the area turned in shadow.  You can actually see it if you take a book into a dimly lit room, and put a white piece of paper against the edge of the book that is turned in shadow. You will see how what little light there is in the room, bounces off the white paper and lights up the edge of the book.  This technique can come in handy in situations when you don't have a flashlight, and you are in some place dark, like a movie theater looking for your cell phone or your car keys. Adding a small amount of reflected light to your rendering can really give it the glimmer that will sell your artwork.  It makes it look more theatrical.

6. Cast Shadow - At first it can be difficult to know where to apply the cast shadow.  The cast shadow is simply the shadow every object makes when under a direct light source.  Sometimes there are multiple light sources causing multiple cast shadows.  If you are drawing from life, which is recommended it will be best to draw with one strong light source in the room.  That way your lighting will be strong and dramatic.  Once you are more experienced with life drawing, you can try drawing using multiple light sources.  The table that shows the angle of light and the direction of light illustrates how to find where a cast shadow should be on a drawing that is not from life.  If you are drawing a science fiction drawing of a techno-ninja warrior on a hover-bike riding into battle, you will need think about the location of your light source.  Once you have determined where it is, you can visualize how the light source is hitting the objects in your drawing, and based on that where the cast shadows should be. 

    There are a variety of materials you can use to render.  In my illustrations I use graphite or cool gray Prismacolor Markers.  I used ink markers to create the value scale.  A lot of storyboard artists use ink markers, as well as graphic novelists.  I like to use the ink markers because they are fast.  Pencils take a very long time to get the desired look in the illustrations.  Cool gray Prismacolor Markers come in a pack of ten.  Each one is labeled with a percentage of value starting at ten percent, escalating up to ninety percent plus a black marker.  If you accidentally mark over an area you wanted to be lighter, you can use a white Prismacolor pencil, some acrylic paint or a white out pen to lighten things up or create the highlights you want.  It is best when using the ink markers to cover all of the shaded areas with a ten percent value, and gradually go over the ares you want darker with the thirty percent.  Then build on top of the areas you want darker with the fifty percent, gradually moving up until you get the desired effect you want. 

    Alternatively you can just use graphite. Graphite is good for those who like to work subtractively.  Working subtractively means that you erase a lot.  If like to block in everything in one dark value, and create your lighter values by erasing, it can be said in the art world that you are working subtractively.  If you use ink markers, you can't erase, so start out light and build the value up in layers.  This is working additively.  If you want to use graphite, Derwent sells a set of twenty four graphite pencils.  The lightest one in the set is a 9H, and the heaviest one is a 9B.  The illustration of the different pencils shows how the density of the different leads apply differently.  It's always best to start out with an H pencil, because the B pencils are so heavy that they are harder to erase after you apply them.  A virtuous  thing about graphite is that you can blend your values by rubbing them with a tissue until you get a smooth tone.  You can also create a variety of textures.  Both graphite and ink markers can create beautiful, powerful and convincing imagery.  They each have their strengths and weaknesses, but it's up to the artist to decide what tool to use.  If used with skill, an artist can use any medium to create a good illustration. 

    For reading, I recommend the following book that can be purchased through my affiliate links at
"Creative Layout Perpective for Artists" by Joko Budiono, Thomas Denmark and Leandro Ng, and "Walter Foster Pencil Drawing" by Gene Franks.

In this tutorial many of the resources and materials I have listed are hyper-linked using my Amazon associates ID.  That means that if you buy something from clicking on a link from this page, Amazon will pay me a small percentage for promoting their products. 

I hope this tutorial has been helpful.
I'm Stan Levine
Peace be with you!

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