Updated: Jul 27, 2021
When you first look at an art piece, what do you notice? The colors used? The shapes? The style being presented? Or maybe even the feeling behind the piece, whether abstract or realistic. No matter the art style we're looking at, the artist strives to convey a look or feeling. One key way of doing so is through the lighting and shadow. The digital painting below was a study I made when I was just starting out in digital art. It may not show off any outstanding colors or dramatic lighting, but without the contrast of light and dark that it shows, the painting would feel more dull and one Dimensional.
Why Shadow Is Important
In a shadow and light study video done by Nacho Guzman for a French music video entitled “sparkles and wine,” he illustrates just how drastically shadows and lighting can effects the features on someone's face. The model presented in the video is relatively still, while the dark and bright contracts are constantly moving around her face. This makes it appear as though her face is constantly morphing.
The way an artist uses shadow in their work is a beautiful and simple way to improve, or even change the composition of their art. The next time you come across an art piece, whether it be realistic, abstract, or a sweet and simple cartoon; see if you can tell whether or not the art uses shadows, and if lights and darks brings that piece to life.
Sketching A Rough Draft Of Shadows
Here in this sketch, I have what some call to "block out" where I want my lights and darks to go. Before I begin this, I will visualize where the sun would be, and shade in all the places farthest from the day light.
Daring brush strokes
Its pretty clear to see the painted effect of the brush strokes in many of my paintings. Even though my work often times is digitally created, i can still use a wide array of digital brushes that create their own textures and feel. I love using texture as a way to express my style and to remind myself not to take it too seriously. There's no need for me to blend until I can not tell where one color begins and another ends. When I was around 5 years old, I was painting with my father and began to get frustrated with the result. My father then told me "l'imperfetto e Perfetto" which is to say "the imperfect is prefect"... or at least it is in it's own way. The saying could stand to be a little more precise, but neither of us speak Italian so it's probably best that it's brief.
All this to say that beauty is beauty, and it is not defined by how perfect we try and make it. A technique goes a long way, but enthusiasm and interest of an artist is what will truly make the difference. I have so far to go and so much to learn, but the excitement of getting to express my creativity is the best part. Thank you for reading, and I'll see you next time!