Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Core Shadow and Shadow Mapping

Back in 2008 I posted a couple of core shadow exercises to my blog that I had done on Conceptart - an exercise led by Ron Lemen (amazing teacher!). Apparently at the time I misunderstood exactly what the term core shadow meant. I was thinking it represented some kind of core of the figure or object you're drawing, the foundation of it's solidity. But just now I did a google and discovered all it really means is the core of a shdow - ie the darkest part of the shadow - usually right next to the brightest part, and often with a dimmer reflected light opposite.

Huh! Well, in that case, I guess I messed up! No reflected light bouncing back onto that figure above - because there was no such light in the source pic. Wow - maybe that's what Ron meant when he said I needed to keep working on it...

Anyway, what I THOUGHT it meant referred to something I picked up from a drawing or painting book a while back - I believe it was Dodson's Keys to Drawing as a matter of fact - something called shadow mapping. Yep, just checked - sure enough. Dodson's shadow mapping it is indeed. He talked about drawing an outline around the shadow areas that define the form of a figure and letting them all run together like little puddles of water if their edges touch.

This is definitely something Frazetta does. Now these 2 terms are interlocked in my mind and together they strongly define a figure (or an object) in terms of form and solidity. Looking at the drawing above in fact, I'm struck by the fact that it uses a limited palette of 6 values and by how freaking good the drawing looks, even though most of the face is just one almost undifferenciated value. It's because of exactly the stuff Robert Beverly Hale harps on so much - using three distinct values to define the planes of a figure.

This in fact is exactly what was done in all those amazing drawings by the likes of Raphael and Rembrandt et al - the figure defined as curving planes with rounded corners and a simplified plan of tone to clearly define which planes are facing the light.

Now I plan to do a bunch of quick figure sketches on the tablet using a palette of 5 values to do just that. Core shadow mapping. I looked at my best figure paintings so far, and guess what - very spotty use of value - it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the planes of the figure and how they're catching the light. I'll bet just keeping this concept in mind will greatly strengthen my work very rapidly.

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