Day 9: The corners that explain the form

In the first week, we focused on the story of the pose, the top 0.1% of information in the pose that we wanted to capture. This week we are going to find the top 0.1% of information in the light and dark.

In Croquis Cafe sessions, we are mostly doing quick drawings, so there may not be much time for shading. That’s ok because the main piece of information we want is what the light is telling us about the form. We really just need the edges of the shadow shapes. They are as important as the outlines of the figure and here’s why.

The outline of a figure is sort of a series of corners as the planes go from facing our eyes to facing away. This is facing your eyes, and then as you move around it’s facing your eyes less and less and then the outline is where it stops facing your eyes altogether and starts facing away. 

The tonal shape edges, the edges of the shadows, are also corners, but they are corners between planes facing the light to planes facing away from the light. So this is facing the light and then it shifts to facing away from the light.

So, the edges of the tonal shapes can be just as important as the outlines to explain the 3D shape, but very often we focus a lot on the outlines and getting those right, and much less on the edges of the shadow shapes. 

Just as you’d draw these lines when drawing a box and without them you might not understand the shape, so are the tonal shape lines of the figure. 

The only thing is that on a figure, the planes are curved, so the ‘corners’ of the shadow shapes are softer and wider, and it’s often good to use softer and wider edges for them. 

And the same things we learned last week apply. Go for massive simplification of the shapes except for the bits that really matter. We want the big shadow shapes, and just like we looked at last week, often it’s the basic big shape of the ribcage and pelvis and the squashy, stretchy midsection that we are interested in, so first look for the big shadow shapes that explain those big, simple shapes. See you in the next post!

The Croquis Cafe practice session is here.

Day 10 tutorial is here.

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