This drawing started as a doodle of simple circles within circles. The poor thing looked embarrassingly flat though, so I shaded it because there’s nothing worse than a doodle lying around in your sketchbook feeling undone. It’s very annoying.
Push It Down and Pull It Up
One of my readers asked what “push down” and “pull up” mean when I talk about shading. To explain, think of a real ball. The top of the ball is nearest you, and the sides curve away. Without trying to explain how it works technically, because that makes my head hurt, when you draw using this simple lighting scheme, dark shadow means that part is farther away or is pushed down into the paper. Highlighting means it’s coming closer, or is pulled up to the top of the paper surface. If you’re really good, you can make that part of the drawing pop out of the paper.
(Warning: I’m speaking visually here. If you drew so well as to make the drawing actually break through the surface plane of the paper, you might tear a hole in reality and collapse the universe in on itself. For this reason, please consult Peter Hawking before attempting.)
Anyway, not all lighting is this simple, but that’s why this is my default doodle lighting, despite the danger of universal collapse.
Fortune Cookie Art Wisdom: Dreams drawn on frail paper will not last.
Because the paper I used has a very thin tooth, I used extremely soft leads – 7B, 8B, & 9B. Thin or smooth grained paper doesn’t take dark values well because the tooth, or grain, can’t hold much graphite. The shading literally fell off this drawing, despite using those super soft leads.
In other words, this poor doodle was wimpy to the max. So I used a black (Pitt) pen to “punch down” the darkest areas for dramatic contrast. Not that I expected to create drama in a doodle of unstuffed olives, but what the heck. If you try this too, be aware that you’re always one cat head bump away from a permanent blotch where you don’t want one.
Here’s how I shaded these things.
1. I shaded them all with a single value hatch. I also call this kind of shading “flat” because it looks flat.
2. To make the spheres look round, I added a darker ring of hatching around the circles edges.
3. Then I added even more dark hatching. Notice that the circle turned into a sphere here.
4. I “smoothed” the hatching by going over it in different directions.
An omnidirectional shading over any other shading usually blends them together and makes them look smoother.
5. Finally, I added a rim around the holes to make the walls of the spheres look “olive-like.”
You can see an exaggerated version of our lighting scheme in this image. The lightest sphere seems to be floating above the darker ones.
The Memory Of Light And A Fashion Tip
We don’t really draw things, you know, we draw the way light looks on things. When you doodle from your imagination, you’re drawing the memory of light, and that’s so mind-bending-ly awesome that knowing it gives you that mysterious and far-away look that goes so well with your artist’s attire.