Shadows and reflected light(Exercise)

In this composition, I am going to choose two objects with different surfaces, one is stainless steel and the other is ceramic. For this exercise I am going to observe the different reflections on the surfaces which provide an interesting interplay of light and shadow. Then practice drawing them by charcoal and putty eraser.

Looking around my house, I have found an ice cream scoop and a black mug which have high reflective surfaces.

Stage 1. Take some photos and observe the objects in the lights and shows their shadows.

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Look at the pictures, they do have reflective surfaces and they provide an very interesting interplay of light and shadow.

Stage 2. I am going to observe the shapes, reflections and shadows then practice on my sketchbook.

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Under the natural light:

  1. Found out the light direction
  2. Found out the brightest point where is the light casts on it.
  3. Found out the darkest area where is in poor light/darkness
  4. Make sure the shadows’s area
  5. Make sure the lighter halftone and darker halftone
  6. Analysis the reflection’s shape. There is a reflection point where I captured it as below, is it the mug being reflected onto the scoop or is the light coming straight or on the other way?


Then I am moving on to sketch the natural light and the lamp light. Compare these two lights I think the lamp light is at 90 degrees to the natural light. The shadows are more clear. The highlights are less bright, maybe I should change this lamp to a spot light. Also some reflection changed a little bit like the reflection on the scoop which is not as clear as it was before with one light source.



After I am moving on only using only the lamp light in a dark room with closed doors and curtains. The head/ball of the scoop is in a highlight area. The highlight area and the reflection area on the mug are the same brightness I think. How can I build this drawing letting  the objects shown all the different factors It is a challenge.


Finally I am looking at the torch lit one. I realize I shone the torch light on the centre of (in the front of) the mug which meant the left side of mug has a strong and clearly defined light (see the highlight area where I wanted to draw the defined/darker halftone). It has also happened on the right side of the mug just not as strong as on the other side?  I think it is difficult for me to draw as regular objects.

These lights hit on these two objects, different lights and on  different area,  the reflections are so much different. As I am the one in charge I have to gather up all these different elements and bring them together in one picture.

Stage 2. I am moving on a A2 newspaper just to enlarge the size and practice the objects’ proportion. I will make the mistakes on the daft and then fix them on my final picture.


Stage 3. I am going to the final piece on a A1 white paper.


I admit it is close to my deadline so I am having to rush this a little and certain things could be better (But it maybe worse for the mug):

  • First main problem is composition of a picture, they are too far to the left side.
  • The ice cream scoops’s reflection is not quite right on the mug.
  • The shape of the mug’s bottom is wider than the top.
  • The handle of the mug, the lines are standing out.
  • The mouth of mug, the border is not correct.
  • The head of the scoop is a bit turning right.


I have shaded the shadow of the scoop on the front of the mug. With the position of it I can’t seem to get the shape as I would like. It is too bent in my opinion. I was trying to draw the line of the shadow down the side of the mug it looks OK but I am not happy with the final position.

Next time I will make sure I have spare erasers as this is the state of mine after this drawing.





Research point – Odilon Redon

In this section I am going to find out the art work of Odilon Redon. He is a French symbolist, printmaker,  draughtsman and pastelist. I looked his articles which are on Wiki and some at his online museum. As this is in my drawing course, so my primary coverage is going to learning his drawing skills like how to use charcoal and pastels etc.

One of his drawing which is similar to the one on our martial.


I do like the strong sense of light in the drawing and I think light is the life of drawing/painting. From the highlight to the darkest shadow are strongly contrasted. This is a monochrome drawing but from the highlight left top to the shadow/dark area down right are all well-bedded even the tree hole has been drawn vividly but you can still see the other shadow around it. I do appreciate the artist’s skill when controlling the light feeling in the entire of image.

I have read some his article: Until his 50s, he worked almost entirely in black and white, in charcoal drawings and lithographs. As this is one of his art work when he is about 56. And I think this work were made in black charcoal .

It has been said that he chose charcoal and lithographic chalk as an alternative to what he perceived was the dull daylight colour of the real world. This work is actually following the true light and real objects.

Graphic shadow was his defence against Impressionism, which he rejected. I especially appreciate his dealing with the shadows which they accentuate.

He abandoned the black and white of his graphic work and turned instead to oils and pastels when he is 60s. He began expressing himself in radiant colours, in visionary subjects, flower paintings and mythological scenes.



These pictures are in colour not black and white but i still find the use of shadow interesting. I like the way it shows the shape if the horses pulling the chariot and the lines around the women’s dress. I will look at some more of his work as I study more.

Distinguish and understanding light and form(Review last 2 exercises)

The sunlight, fluorescent or some else light source (reflected light) etc. strike on the objects to create orderly predictable series of tones. Organised and control their relationship of light and dark gradations is the key for building three-dimensional image.

Review the last 2 exercises:

1.For my geometric solid I tried to catch up their graduations  but to  form the  shadows it needs to have more gradations.

2.My 3 objects drawing with “X”and “+” symbols, the graduations are scrambled. I may shade them more tones.

For the exercise observing shadow using blocks of tone, for which I have drawn a teapot and a plate. I am quite happy with the tonal contrast of outcome.

Creating shadow using lines and marks(Exercise)

In this exercise I choose simple single objects to start with. Then I worked in my sketchbook. For my drawing tools, I have got 6B pencil, ballpoint pen, drawing pen and winsor&newton ink.


I used these 4 kinds of tools to quickly do some geometric drawing. I use the following patterns spots, long lines, hatching and criss-cross.

Then I made some more attempts.


I really should shade some more dark colour on the blue bottle jar where the background is on the right side but as this is just an exercise for practise I left it as it is.

Then I had to arrange 3 objects and make a very quick and loose drawing.I have chosen the easiest objects in my house.


I used the longer lines to draw the objects with drawing pen and conte stick.



Then I tried to use”X” symbols to draw the objects and “+” for the shadows.


I think “X” and “+” are quiet similar symbols and they match well with each other .This is my first attempt at drawing like this so there are lots of  potential that I need practices more on this. I will leave this in the further.


I have found some Vincent Van Gogh’s drawing from website. I like his mark making with long lines, curves and stipplings. Even the shadwos and background are vivid.



Observing shadow using blocks of tone(Exercise)

In this exercise, I am going to practice tone to give the impression of  perspective, 3 dimensions and shadow. Then this task is to observe light and dark and to depict it on paper.

To start this exercise, I have chosen 2 chinaware objects, lamp, torch and pure white fabric to practice this still life. For observing the main areas of light and dark. First I used the natural light source which gave a cold feeling.

Natural light


Natural light + lamp


Compare last two photos, the natural light shows the highlights and the texture better. After I  add the lamp/illumination the still life is showing the colours looking warmer and clear shadows.

I don’t want to wait until night to take any photos. So I moved all the objects into my down stairs toilet which hasn’t any windows or external light source.



At last I got another idea, I turned on a torch and turn off the other lights.


So these 4 pictures are helping me to obverse this still life’s shapes, light and dark, highlights and shadows.

Stage 1. To draw the objects’ shapes accurately  I used my A4 sketch book to separate these 2 objects first, then interlock them together.


In this attempt I wouldn’t mind any problems coming out at this stage as this is my first rough sketch. Like the mouth of the tea pot in wrong pose and wrong size.

Stage 2. To quickly observe the objects’ relation, perspective, light and dark and shadow etc.

I used different colours to compare their blocks in different light and dark shades.


Stage 3. Enlarge the objects onto a A2 newspaper and drawing by charcoal. I used rough blocks to experiment with their light and dark areas.


Stage 4. I have drawn the objects on a A2 newspaper with oil pastels but with red, blue and black 3 colours


For the last test  I used the pencil (6B), charcoal, oil pastel and conte stick to practice their tones.  Then rubbing by fingers and eraser on the pictures and comparing the results.


Now I am going to attempt my final image with a paper this is 65 cm*58 cm which is bigger than A2 and nearly a square.

With the conte stick I quickly and roughly covered the blocks of tone.


In the middle of the process  I paused and took a long view, this image is in three dimensions but the shape is not really accurate especially the tea pot’s spout is too long.

At the moment I think the main problem is I over draw the tones as it is too dark. I probably chasing the touch’s light and not the mutual one.

For these objects’ colours and tones I was thinking that I need more attempts.

Then I tried to use rubbing and eraser to improve it.


The main problem is when I drew the teapot it should have been circular but it seems I have flattened it out in to more of an oval.

This is my first time drawing with conte stick but I din’t really control and understand its characters. I think I made a reasonable attempt at the picture but I feel I need more practice at drawing with this medium.