Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shadows Part 5- Vertical wrinkles / Coloring Pumpkins part 1

Last week summer ended for us and we got rain again, although Monday was the first official day of Autumn. What better way to start fall than by talking about pumpkins and how to shade them?

This continues on our study of shadows and how they fall on objects. So far we've covered:
Shadow types
basic shadows on round things
Shadows on groups
Shadows on faces

Vertical wrinkles, Shadows on pumpkins
This is not Coloring On Pumpkins, which I have been known to do with Copic markers, rather this is a two part post. Today I'm going to talk about the way shadows interact with the simple wrinkles of something like a pumpkin. Later I'm going to follow up with understanding the YR's and how to expand your color range.

Pumpkin shapes vary from smooth to deeply wrinkled, but their wrinkles run vertical so we'll color these today. Each ridge of a pumpkin catches the light slightly differently, so let's look in depth about how we show the wrinkles on the surface of what at first appears to be a simple shape like a pumpkin.

Smooth, Round Pumpkins
This is what the pumpkins in my garden look like right now- very smooth and just changing from green to orange. Much like coloring the round apple in the second shadow post, a smooth pumpkin is very straight forward to color, so we color with our base colors just the same as if it's a ball or a sphere.

I'm showing my highlight as yellow and my shadows as red in these diagrams so the colors stand out a bit more. It's fairly easy to see where my highlights and shadows will be. If I were coloring the ground brown in this diagram then my shadow would be the same family of brown, just a couple shades darker.

I want you to see my diagram for "Another way to look at it". This shows the general areas of light influence. In other words, if you slice the round thing the first slice is highlight, the second slice is midtone, and the last slice is shadow. Why should I look at it this way? When we get into more complicated shapes this helps us remember where the basic highlights/shadows for a round shape will be strongest. Then, we'll add shadows for wrinkles over the top of shadows for round things and see how each wrinkle gets different light based on where it is around the pumpkin.

Lumpy, Round
This is where we get into more complicated pumpkins. First we need to understand how light hits flat wrinkles, then adapt that to our round pumpkin.

Understanding light and wrinkles
We know that light hits strongest on the first spot it touches and gets darker from there. We've talked about how that works on basic round shapes, now let's talk about wrinkles, specifically wrinkles that go up and down (fabric is much more complex, so we won't cover that yet).

Each wrinkle is half of a circle, so the side closest to the light gets the highlight, the far side gets a shadow. When you run a bunch of these half-circles next to each other you'll see how the deepest part of each wrinkle is in shadow and it continues as a repeating pattern.

Round Wrinkles
Now, let's wrap those wrinkles around a circle. From the top this is easiest to picture. The side closest to the light still gets the strongest highlights, the far side of each wrinkle gets a shadow. You have to remember that the top of the pumpkin curves towards the stem, and sinks down a bit to reach the base of the stem, so the stem shadows will get tricky (luckily our final picture doesn't show the stem).

In looking at the side view remember "Another way to look at it"- in slices. The first slice gets the strongest highlights, with very light wrinkle shadows. The second slice shows the midtones, and the third slice shows shadows. Because each wrinkle blocks the light a little bit the shadows creep into the slice of midtone, and the midtones creep into the slice for highlights, but in general you can see where the lightest areas are in the first slice and on to the shadow slice.

Looking at the slices really helps our mind remember where the general color areas are, then we adjust from there based on wrinkles (I suggest reading over this a few times until it makes sense- it's hard to expalin in words but easier to see in the picture).

Final Artwork- two pumpkins
I have the benefit of drawing the art so I know what it looks like from above. If you are coloring someone else's picture then you have to guess. If the shadows are giving you a problem I would suggest drawing a simple diagram of the shape from above to see how the parts sit next to each other and where their shadows will fall. This gets you thinking of your shapes in three dimensions and away from looking at them flat all the time.

On my two pumpkins, the front pumpkin is bigger and closer to the light, so it's shadow will bump into the smaller pumpkin making it darker where it usually would have light. Also note that the leaves on the ground are in clusters of two. The back leaf falls in the shadow area from each pumpkin, so it will be darker (it will also get a bit of shadow from the leaf in front of it.

Later I'm going to talk more about why I'm picking the colors I am, but for now just follow along and trust me, even though I'm not totally following the rules for Natural Blending Groups. My final artwork looks nicely shadowed, with good contrast between highlights and shadows. Image: Drawn with a 0.7 mm Multiliner SP Paper: Color Laser Copier Paper


Susie said...

Beautiful pumpkins. I so love the coloring. My frustration in learning all of this is that I don't have the myriad of colors you always list. I have purchased 5 groups of pens from Ellen Hutson, along with some individual ones, so my question to you is - will I ever be able to do shadows like this without having a complete set of Sketch pens?

Becky said...

gorgeous pumpkins. This was a great tutorial, thanks so much for sharing.

Broni said...

Beautiful coloring on the pumpkins! Can't wait for the class in Charleston next week!

marianne walker said...


Yes you can color beautifully without using all the colors I do. I only show a suggestion (or whatever colors catch my eye as I'm coloring), and as long as you have a light and dark it will work.

The key colors on my pumpkin are
yellow, orange, middle brown for shading,then light green and dark green for leaves.

Jessrose21 said...

Great lesson! It does make it easier to think of the slices of shadows and highlights. With each lesson you post I feel more and more confident with my coloring. Thanks!

Jan Hunnicutt said...

Thank you for posting this tutorial, I know it's a few years later but it was very helpful to me. I colored a picture with pumpkins and tried your color combo with shadows, it turned out great and I learned something :)