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Lighting Is Paramount

When drawing we usually draw from photos these days. It is rare when I get to draw from life so I’m used to it. Photos can be distorted or capture light in funny ways. You have to start with a good photo with excellent light or you may as well give up before beginning. Invariably I will get someone approaching me to draw their child or grandchild but they give me a photo taken from above so the proportions are distorted, or one with such bad lighting that the face is absolutely flat. Or worse, they give me a photo taken with a flash. Flash is deadly to artists. It completely removes all shadows.  Sure it looks like your precious darling in the photo because that’s a photo, but doing a drawing the features would appear flat and lifeless without some shadow to mold the face and give 3 dimensions. Always take the photo outside from the eye-level of the child if possible and not YOUR eye level. DON’T USE FLASH. Make sure the light is coming from one side not directly above.  Good shadows are a must for good drawings.

These are from my 100 days of children challenge. In this section I am using days 23 through day 34 as examples.

What do you think?


What do you think?

12 Points

Written by Paintdrips


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  1. Lighting is one of the most important factors a photographer has to take into account. Good lighting turns and average photo into a very good one! I never really thought about the impact on the artist who draws from photos.

    • I know. Photographers and artists are in the same boat but at opposite sides. It seems to me most photographers want to remove the harsh shadows with reflective screens and secondary lighting, while artists need those shadows to remain, at least most of them. Professional photo portraits from a studio are so lit that I cannot draw from them at all. There is just too much light and no shadows to turn the form of the face. Since I’m not a magician I can’t manufacture shadows that aren’t there. I usually have to show up at take my own photos to draw portraits from. Thanks for commenting.

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