Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drawing the Winter Landscape Part 4- Value and Light

Reference Photo
Value and Light

There are several challenges in doing a winter landscape. You have to making the show look real, dealing with the subtle and necessary value shifts and working for the soft texture you need to make the snow look nice and fluffy. So often it is not a mater of drawing the shapes, but shading in everything around it. Dealing with the negative shapes, which in this case are white or near white. One of the biggest challenges is finding your darks, and not being afraid of them. Shadows and shading are all important.

Light source

It was a snowy day in early March, one of those deep spring snowfalls that bring such a soft blanket of snow to the area. We had had a real storm, with thunder and lightning thrown in with the heavy snow cover. But the day these photos where taken had been a rather bright, sunny day so there are nice shadows and contrasts.

When this photo was taken, the sun was beginning to lower in the west, but the shadows were not yet very long. Keeping this in mind, I know the sun would be to the right on this drawing, so things sloping away from there would be in shadow.

Shadows and Shading are all important in any drawing, but they become obvious in a snow scene. There is value to white. Angle of sight changes things. sometimes in large ways, but more often in small ways. How well our drawings turn our depends in large measure on how well we deal with both types of shadows.

Cast Shadows and Contour

There are two types of shadow or shading going on here, the cast shadows from the sun and the contour shading you get with any 3-dimentional object, like the columns of the trees. Both are necessary to work this drawing. Since in this photo reference the trees now become the focal point, handling both shadows is very important.

Working the shadows

There are two ways to deal with these shadows. You can use softer pencils and rework these shapes, and you can use blending tools, like a stump or tortillion. Many blending tools are possible for any drawing. I tend to favor the judicious use of kneaded erasers. This seems to work especially well on snow scenes. Sometimes it is just as important to remove graphite, as it is to apply it

Winter Drawing
3 Trees
You as the artist must be sure of your light source. This is especially important if the photo reference you are using is unclear or confusing on this subject. You must be sure. If the artist is confused, the work will be confused. Now, on this project I have a slight advantage, as these are my photographs, and I remember the conditions when I took these pictures. But you might have to simply pick or study the photo for clues as to the time of day and where and how strong the light source is. I have been known to draw myself a little sun on the paper, outside the margin to remind me where the light is coming from!

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