The Joy of Lighting - Part 1
 By Baby Lou Tattoo   •   20th Dec 2009   •   2,719 views   •   2 comments
I'm going to explain to you, best I can, though granted it WILL be fairly advanced, how I get my exact light. So many people have issues with lighting and WANT to get it right, be it a manipulator or a painter. I will be using DIAL UP FRIENDLY photos (4) to explain my points.

This is LONG, and possibly not the most exciting read, but it WILL MAKE YOU A BETTER ARTIST.

It was bugging me today - is there such thing as cold (temperature) and dark?

Apparently there's not.
There's only the "Absence of heat", and the "absence of light."

Cold, as in the temperature outside is relatively not warm, is, as the deion implies, relative and so is not an absolute and therefore cannot truly exist. It is conceivable that some human would find even -30 with a 20 degree windchill "pleasant".

1) Cold = opposite of hot (adjective)
2) Cold = absence of heat (noun)

(I learned this a LONG time ago when I *for a short period of time* attended art school) For all I know - this will help people with their realism issues with painting horses.

As for 'darkness', there is nothing called 'darkness' EXCEPT the absence of light hence its other name 'lightlessness.' The natural state for all things is absolute darkness. SHADOWS are full of light. A shadow is simply when light is interrupted. But light follows a straight line and it is very reflective. This is called "Radioisity." Radioisity means that light will bounce off other solid objects almost infinitely while getting weaker (hence dark shadows, light shadows, etc) This radioisity reflects off everything - trees, birds, grass, dirt, walls, the table..

So here is my hint.
Shadows are VERY RARELY a flat grey or black they are filled with light.

Shadows have edges, some are sharp and others are soft. On a round object, such as a ball, the light is more graduated. I will prove this to you using one of my juggling balls. Here I've set a light on two steps. One close, the other further from the ball. Because the ball is curvaceous, the shadowing effect is gradual with the darkest point being furthest from the light.

I will explain the light source on the ball, what it has to do with art and why you should learn it, and will sum up both examples with a relative (ie more interesting!) outcome.

The Joy of LightingThis ball is the ball with the light source DIRECTLY beside it. You can see the curvaceous shape of the ball - like a human cheek for example, or stomach, sets the source out like a gradient.

What does this have to do with art? If you're trying to paint - this includes relighting a photo for a manipulation - you must learn this gradual technique. This is the kind of thing that will make or break a piece of art. If shadows are too sharp (remember what I said about some shadows have sharp edges, others have soft edges, others have a gradient but MOST have drastic lightness to them?) it creates a cartoonish, simplified, and unrealistic realm.

The Joy of LightingThis is the ball with the less-than-reliable lightsource, that is the source most of us enjoy because they're the most interesting. A setting sun, a low moon, reflections off water (more on that later) and fire. Here the lightsource was placed off to the right UNDER the ball, but since, yes, the ball is curvaceous, it remains dark underneath, and AS SAID BEFORE, light travels in a straight line, eg, up, bypassing the direct underside of the ball.

What does this have to do with art? As I said, this kind of light is the most provocative to look at. Alas, its the most difficult to achieve. A horses jowel for example, is curved, like that of the ball. The light would bypass in this kind of situation and illuminate the cheek, upper facial bone, lower eyelid, and so on. It is very much worth evaluation of your many lightsources.. I will get to that now.

The Joy of LightingThis is my acrylic juggling ball. Its lightsource is exactly the same as the above example. You can see (straight lines remember) the light has reflected through the transparent object, and reflected directly onto the background. The reflections from the centre of the ball have rimmed the ball with light, and the ball has picked up the colours (reflections) of surrounding surfaces.

What does this have to do with art? Think of water, ice, and horses eyes. Vital parts of our paintings and manipulations, but so overlooked as to how to GOOD ones work and the BAD ONES don't. Everything solid, and liquid (including water) has a surface enough to reflect light upon other surfaces. A horses eye is curvaceous like this ball, and picks up light in a similar fashion. an expressive, well-lit eye is a foundation - remember, eyes are the window to the soul, and if they pick up the light from around correctly, you will have a more engaging, thoughtful, memorable image.

The Joy of LightingThis horse (granted, non organic) shows exactly how to apply these principles to your work. Note how there are soft shadows (closer and less steep surface incline) and hard sharp shadows (furthest from the light). The horses barrel is illuminated, the facial features, upon second glance express an eerie light setup.

What does this have to do with art? Look closely. This works well for any lighting source - fire especially, or a moonlit ocean. Look at the lightly placement. If you were painting that, would you have gotten all the light sources? It's hard without a reference photo, I know, but that is exactly why it's so worthwhile learning the principle of lighting.

Applying this principle of the juggling ball to an organic material, like your face or a horse, is more complicated, but uses EXACTLY the same concept. Look in the mirror, the light washes over your face. You will notice the edges of shadow transition back and forth between hard and soft.

The driving force there is your fat content, and skeleton. Where bones come close to the skin, like your cheekbone, or jaw line, there are hard shadows/ Where skin and fat is ample and stretches between these bones, the shadows are soft. This brings us to an important rule a shadows edge is often inconsistent.

Now, I've discussed on light source, but rarely is there only ever ONE light source. This is where it becomes a challenge. The trick is sorting out the light sources. Draw arrows on a different layer in the direction off each light source. This will help you develop your constant lighting.

Shadows are never black and white. In fact, NEVER use black and white in your manipulations or paintings. PURE black and white does not occur in nature. Therefore, the light of your shadows will probably more than likely be the lighting atmosphere of the room.

So there you have it.
It's long, it's complicated, but you get NOTHING if you don't work for it and learn.
Horse News More In This Category:  Graphics      Horse News More From This Author:  Baby Lou Tattoo
Llama In A Box  
You've really explained this well, which I highly appreciate - since lighting is one of my main issues when it comes to manipulation! Great explanation. =D
  Dec 20, 2009  •  1,763 views
(= excellent explaination! i totally agree with Llama
  37 days ago  •  1,733 views
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