Shadow Play: The Classic Sphere

Hi guys!
Oh it’s been an age since I’ve had the time to sit down and blog properly! However, today I have a more theoretical tutorial for those of you who like to delve slightly deeper into the concepts behind shadow play. However, bearing in mind that a lot of my readers are beginners, I’ve tried to keep it as easy to understand as possible.
Before we begin, I’d like to give a quick shout out to my lovely assistant, Summer (pictured below), for gracing me with the paw of moral support through my art career!

Alright, jokes aside, let’s get started. For the purpose of simplicity, I’ve chosen the classic example of a sphere with a single source of light. As seen below, the darkest shadow will therefore be on the side of the sphere exactly opposite the light source.

For this tutorial, I’ll be using graphite pencils in 2H, H and F, a hard eraser, and a large blending stump with plenty of graphite already on it.
Now although the rest of this post will be a step-by-step, I want you to really focus on the words and reasons why we’re placing the shadows where we’re placing them. Here goes!
1. As always, we start by setting the tone. For today, the lightest part of my shadow will be the shade 2H. We’ll start by shading in parallel to the darker edge of the sphere, and blend in the same direction (as shown inset).

Feel free to draw the colour out while blending, this will help the shadows look seamless a little further on.

2. We’re going to gradually intensify the shadows a bit closer to the outside edge. My next darkest tone, H, goes on in the same direction as the 2H, but it isn’t spread quite as thickly. This is because we’re trying to show the effect of a more concentrated darkness, and thus the wider spread of light on our sphere.

And then, do the same with the next darker shade which for me was the F. Again, we stick to the same direction, but confine the shading to a thinner strip. (Yes, I’ve gone outside the lines a little bit. Nobody’s perfect! We can always clean that up!)

3. Now as you may have noticed, the top left edge of our sphere is starting to look a little flat. In order to add a bit of dimension, we need to push the very outer edges back into shadows. This way, the center of our lightest area will project out of the paper, giving it a 3-dimensional appearance.

I grabbed the 2H again and shaded an oval around the lightest parts. I then went ahead and blended this in the same direction as the shading (i.e. in ovals around the light areas) and gradually pulled the colour in, till there was no pure white left.

4. Alright, here’s a little cheat trick to pull that highlight out so it’s BAM!-in-your-face. Place shadows immediately next to the highlight, and the resulting contrast tricks the eye quite well.
Here, our highlight is fairly rounded, so a shadow approaching from the darkest area would wrap around part of this light area. I picked up my darkest shade and dragged some of that lovely shadow about halfway into the sphere, and blended that as shown below.
5. Finally, I shaded the very outer edge of the lighter half and blended that as well, to further make that light area stand out.
And that’s all there is to spherical objects: a spot of light surrounded by shadows. In the next post, we’ll talk about drop shadows and how they change, depending on the placement of the object, so stay tuned for that!
And, as usual, here’s some of my other work using shadows:
Check out my other tutorials on how to draw specific parts of a face or just plain old lineart!
If you have any requests, please drop me a line on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and I’d be happy to oblige! Also, please share this post with your friends if you enjoyed it, so we may all learn together! Drop me a comment below letting me know what you think, and I’ll see you guys next time!
Thanks for reading!
-S. xx



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