Check and log: Reflected light

What are the difficulties in separating cast shadow from reflected light and shade?

Less defined shapes are harder to decipher.  Therefore, the brighter the light source, the more straightforward it is to read the light and shade.  On my second drawing, I started with natural light, but it was changing and moving so quickly, I closed the curtains and used lamplight.  There was still diffuse light from the window, though.

Reflected light and shade are not as intense as either cast shadow or highlight, but a more muted version of both.  When confused by which is which, it can be helpful to move an object, briefly, to see how that changes what you can see.  Squinting helps a lot in trying to recognise the different tones.

It can be tricky trying to get differing dark tones (e.g. cast shadow and it’s reflection).  I could experiment with compressed charcoal for the very darkest areas.  However, this can affect the overall balance of the picture, as compressed charcoal tends to absorb the light far more than willow charcoal, sometimes creating a slightly deadened effect.

I found some difficulties in using the putty rubber – the variety and crispness of highlights weren’t as great as I’d have liked.

Observation is all!

The reflected light and shadow follows the contours of the objects. How have you shown this in your drawing?

I spent a while looking before I did anything, to weigh up the contours and tones, and paused to look again, at regular intervals. 

Placing a sheet of white paper beneath the objects made the light and shadow slightly easier to define.

Especially on the second drawing, I tried not to break all the various reflections up into the objects I knew they were.  So if I saw a dark tone, even if it was actually one object running into another without any clear delineation, I would draw it as one shape, if that’s how it looked to me.  Whilst I tried to dissociate what I saw from the objects that I was drawing (and my expectations of what I might see), sporadically, I stepped back to see if the drawing was making sense in relation to the objects.  Then I returned to just drawing the shapes I saw.

I tried to make the shadows (and light) bend to follow the contours of the object.  Using sweeping strokes (of charcoal) helped with this, as did breaking the charcoal into small enough pieces to allow greater manipulation.

Using the putty rubber was interesting, and created very striking effects, although as I said above, it was difficult to get some of the highlights quite as sharp as I’d have liked.

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