# Cast Shadows: Behind and Before

When you are drawing shadows, there are a couple of rules which need to be remembered in order to create a natural looking illusion of light. Fortunately, Andrew Loomis helps us negotiate these points in his book Successful Drawing.

The first rule he indicates is an observation regarding the two location choices of light source when representing cast shadows; that is, a behind light source or a before light source. Behind and before are designations of where the light source is in relation to the viewer of the picture, not the subject.  Examine these samples I’ve drawn for you below.

In the picture of the Ogre below, the primary cast shadow on the ground plane shows us that the light source is behind you– the viewer of this picture.  The ogre’s actual body is interrupting the direction the light is falling, and hence, it casts a shadow behind.  Notice that cast shadows which are even somewhat to the side of the subject are still considered the result of a behind light source.

If the light source is behind, the shadow will fall behind.

(NB. In this drawing there happens to be two light sources, as you can see in the secondary small cast shadow under the ogre’s chin, and likewise below his hands.  For this matter, we are regarding only the large cast shadow on the ground.)

This drawing is considered to be a light source which is before the viewer.  One can tell on account of the fact that the shadow is falling between where we the viewers are, and the subject matter of the lady, as she sits on the plane.  One can imagine the sun above her, in the sky, before where you are standing, looking at this lady.  The sun before you, therefore constitutes a before light source.

If the light source is before, the shadow will fall between.

Now that the terms before and behind have been established, there are several rules about casting shadows from before and behind light.  Here are  Loomis’ rules about drawing cast shadows.

1. If the light source is behind the viewer, the angle of the light comes from below the horizon.
2. If the light source is before the viewer, the angle of light comes from above the horizon.
3. If the light source is before the viewer, put the shadow VP on the horizon nearby, below the light source.
4. When the light source is before the viewer, the angle of light is the nearest of the 3 cast shadow considerations;
• position of light source
• angle of light
• VP of shadow on the horizon
5. All shadows radiate from a point on the ground directly below the light source.  This point is the shadow vanishing point (SVP)
6. All shadows within a drawing recede to the same SVP.
7. The length of shadow on the ground plane is determined by the angle of light.

That is a lot to digest, so at this point, it may be of use to my readers to think on these concepts for a while, before diving into how one actually draws before and behind light source shadows.  Next week, I will demonstrate that process, as well as how to cast shadows of organic shapes, like those in my samples above.

Thank you very much for your continued interest.

Bye for now.

# Establishing a “Key Figure” part 2

## The Idealistic Proportion

Last time, we discussed the principle of properly building a figure’s proportions based on naturalistic measurements.  The end result was noted as being fairly dumpy looking, and unimpressive as a figure.

To choose to elevate a subject into a representational form is a kind of expression of one’s values, and thus the choice of ‘naturalism’  is actually related to philosophical matters.

Consider the reasons an artist may choose to represent a figure naturalistically. One reason could be that the artist claims that the subject ‘really looks that way’. To record realism is a task for an historian or an objective reporter, and is better served that way.  Artistic representation must be more than an anecdotal record of history.

Another reason may be that the artist believes his job is to educate his viewers. Education is not the job of art either, as those ends are better served by science or through the consumption of written information.

Some artists believe that naturalistic representation is in service to exposing the misery of mankind, and thus seek to improve the lot of society by representation of natural reality.  This position depends on a value judgement, and thus changes art into a vehicle for transmitting a didactic moral purpose.  This is not the function of art, but of propaganda.

To choose to represent something in artwork is to display one’s values in a purely visual aesthetic manner.  The art represents the maker’s belief systems, and so displays his soul (for lack of a better word).  The choice represents ‘existence plus’, that is, how reality is -plus a bit more.  Perhaps one could say that good art demonstrates how reality could be in it’s most perfect incarnation.

This is the first observation as to why Idealized Proportions of measuring a human figure are used commonly in art.

The Idealistic Figure is 8 heads tall, with the middle point in the overall height falling just above the genitals and below the swell of the great trochanter of the femur bone (that is the the knob-like lateral projection at the proximal end of the femur).  The span of the shoulders from their widest points is 2 and 1/3 heads wide.

The measurement of 8 heads as a proportional size of the human is appropriate for most illustrations which seek to represent realism.  Any image displaying normal day-to-day people going about their business, some book illustrations and most adverts will all show the figure measured as 8 heads tall.

Most viewers who compare these proportions to the ‘naturalistic’ measurements used in the last posting will easily recognize how much more attractive the Idealistic Proportions appear to the eye.  That being said, this proportional measurement of 8 heads is not the final word on Establishing a Key Figure.  8 heads is only appropriate in some situations when drawing the human figure.

Artists who draw fashion illustrations, comic artists and even the sculptors of the Classical era use -and did use- greater proportional standards.  We will examine these proportions next week.

Thanks for reading, and I would like to wish you happy and accurate drawing.

# Establishing a “key figure” Part 1

Greetings,

Today’s posting will combine some conceptual elements which Loomis has outlined in earlier sections of the book, with some rules which are better stated in his companion book “Figure Drawing for all its Worth” (which will be reviewed on this blog in time).  The concept Loomis is outlining is “Establishing a Key Figure”.  It is akin to his rule about setting up the relative heights between human figures standing in perspective.  The added element is exactly how does one properly determine a human figure’s height?

Before too much is stated, I want to  address some generic disputes which arise when discussion of humanity and attractiveness is considered.  In the following discussion, it is  considered that symmetry is more attractive then incongruence, and that upright, slightly elongated figures are more appealing to the eye, than are hunched and squat figures.  This model of beauty is defined by Classical aesthetics, and it has been the standard in the Western World for over 2000 years.  Contrary points of view are a derivative of the very recent movement of Post Modernism, and the full-frontal attack on Western Values.  Andrew Loomis does not consider Post Modern takes which subvert Classical definitions of beauty in favour of alternate positions.

Let us get underway by defining how one sets up the proper proportions of the human figure.

Many books outline the method of ‘measuring in heads’ to find out the attractive proportions with which to render a human figure.  Andrew Loomis uses the same method, but he adds many important considerations which are usually overlooked in other books.

Academic measurement of the human body is 7.5 heads tall.  This measurement is generally accepted as being true to reality, on average.  The particular height of a person is not altered by this measurement proportion method.  For instance, a 6 foot tall person and a 5 foot tall person could both be measured at being 7.5 heads tall, the difference being the head unit size would be larger on the taller person.

Furthermore, the average width of the figure is taken to be 2 heads wide.  This measurement is fully represented at the outer edge of the shoulder, as it turns down into the arm; basically in a line straight across the chest.

Here is a drawing I have done, measured at 7.5 heads tall.

The problem with this measurement of the figure is that, despite it being accurate to life, it produces a figure which appears rather stumpy, and unimpressive.  As far as illustration is concerned, the choice to represent an idealized version of humanity is preferable, rather than representing a naturalistic version of humanity.

The measurement of the idealized version of the figure will be explained in the next posting.

See you then.

# Drawing To Scale

It is amazing how much information Andrew Loomis packs into each of the pages of his books.  His method of instruction is to constantly expand the uses of techniques outlined on previous pages.  In so doing, he also expands the learner’s set of drawing mechanics in a straightforward way.  For example, on page 39 of Successful Drawing, the method of depth by diagonal is elaborated upon, and here Loomis shows the reader how to use the technique in order to execute a scale drawing.  He says:

Every artist should know how to draw to a scale.  Scale drawings require the division of vertical and horizontal planes into square feet or square units.

Let us then examine the method.

1. We must first establish a vertical and horizontal measuring line, like an X and Y axis, where the lines touch at right angles at point zero.  Both lines must have equal division of unit, which represent feet in the drawing. The size of the unit which you use is done by eye.  A horizon line is established and the measuring lines are placed upon the scene.
2. From each of the ends of the measuring lines, and from point zero, lines are drawn to the VP.  Set the VP where you want by eye.
3. Now, a fourth Line of Perspective is cast to the VP, this time from the mid point (at the 5) of the vertical line.  This line is represented as a black and white dotted line in the example below.  We shall call this line the Halfway Line.
4. Next, gauge by eye the optional depth of the first foot of measurement along the low Line of Perspective going from the zero point to the VP.
5. When the first unit is established, cast a Line of Perspective from point one on the vertical scale (yellow checker in this sample), as well as a second vertical line at the point where the first unit terminates (red checker in this sample).  This first square unit will represent one foot.
6. Ascending diagonally from the  low near corner (point 0, 0), cast a diagonal measurement line (cyan coloured in this sample). Make sure it crosses exactly through the upper furthest corner of the first square foot.
7. Where this diagonal measurement line (cyan coloured) crosses the top Line of Perspective, draw another vertical down to the bottom Line of Perspective.  This is 10 feet deep into the image from point 0,0.  Cast Lines of Perspective (yellow here) from each remaining vertical measurement points to the VP.  Where the  diagonal (cyan coloured) measurement line crosses the many interior Lines of Perspective (yellow), additional vertical lines are drawn.  These represent 1 foot sections receding into the distance.
8. Next, draw horizontal lines on the horizontal plane, each at 90 degrees from every incremental foot measurement determined in step 7.  This divides the ground plane also into ten 1-foot sections in perspective.
9. As in last week’s posting, cast a descending diagonal line from the top near corner of the vertical plane, crossing through the far mid point delineated by the Halfway Line (black and white line) on the plane.  This shows where the next ten foot wide plane will terminate.
10. Draw the vertical for the twenty foot mark, and then diagonally bisect this new plane, from corner to corner (purple diagonal in this sample).  Where that diagonal line crosses the Halfway Line is the centre of the second vertical plane.
11. At the centre point where the newly drawn diagonal (purple diagonal in this) crosses the Halfway Line, draw a new vertical.  This will show the point of 15 feet in depth, as it is exactly between the 10 foot and 20 foot markers.
12. Repeat this process of descending diagonals from upper near corner through the Halfway Line, and ascending from corner to corner to determine as much depth as needed.  Each line that descends from top corner through the Halfway Line shows us 10 more feet in depth.
13. Now suppose we were asked to place these two men of different heights, on the field 20 feet away from each other.  Furthermore, we want to place two Greek columns of equal height also on the plain, 30 feet away from each other.  We want to place the tall black man beneath the near column, and the short white man 20 feet behind, and 9.5 feet over to the left of the black man .  The black man is 6 feet tall, the white man is 5 feet tall, and the columns are 10 feet tall.
14. With this method of Drawing to Scale, the task is simple.
15. Erase the guide lines and add some shadows, and the task is complete.  Notice how the short white man looks proportionately still like a short guy -even way back in the field.  Because the perspective is correct, and our Intelligent Perception is so fine tuned to seeing people in distances, we can tell he is a small man even though he is not standing directly beside any reference point.  This is the power of perspective.

Thank you for reading this week’s posting.  I hope you will subscribe and learn more about Andrew Loomis by keeping up with this blog.