A Drawing A Day 0845

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 16

Before I could do anything on the right hand side figure, the one on the left hijacked my attention. The way the yesterday’s drawing ended up was good. However looking at it today I realised the two figures (middle and left) are in a differently lit space. They are both ok on their own, but don’t belong on the same paper in terms of light. And so I did some corrections, the majority of which take place right in the middle of the body of the left figure. Probably the easiest explanation will be using the pectoralis major. The left side of the chest, starting from the left arm has a rising tendency which means it would catch more reflected light than the side dropping towards some of it’s insertion points at the sternum. This falling part of the muscle is still hidden from the main light source but now it is also turned away from the reflected light. Now across the sternum, the right side of the chest has again a rising pectoralis major upon which the reflected light nicely falls and at its peak the main source of light and the reflected light meet. This is the place of the largest contrast. And then the falling pectoralis on the far right is fully lit by the main light source and has a few highlights. Again, depending on how exact we wish to be, this basic set up could have even more details. After all the falling part of the pectoralis muscle on the left side of the chest approaching sternum, turned away from the reflected light is dark, however it lies directly across the sternum from the fairly lit (by reflected light) right side of the chest. The rising pectoralis. Now this would pass on some of its light onto the dark bit on the left. ;–))

A Drawing A Day 0843

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 14

Adding more details to the middle figure. Now that I have pretty much the darkest darks and lightest lights established, the inside of the body needs to be done in the same way. The larger mass of the trunk has smaller masses embedded in it. And those contain still more smaller masses. The amount of definition depends on to what detail does the drawing go. But essentially, the same light scheme established on the large masses has to be applied to the smaller and smaller masses. After all, the whole body is in the same space, hit by the same light. I know, that’s obvious, right? But many drawings fall apart precisely because the light is not maintained consistently throughout the whole body in all the details.
So I am adding (fine tuning) the smaller masses (detail) inside all of the middle figure. Then I continue doing the same on the left figure. The rightmost figure still awaits it’s turn. I will still have to do something about the compositional imbalance with extra space left on the far left side. Hmmmm…

A Drawing A Day 0842

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 13

Well then, the middle figure took the lead in terms of light development. And that created a nice spatial effect of the middle figure being closer to us (leaning forward) than the leftmost one (being upright / leaning backward). Comparing version 12 and 13 such a (relatively) small change made such a big difference. I suppose that is part of the magic of drawing. Things are fluid. I’m quite happy with the light meets dark contrast level. I think I am getting close to the final light intensity calibration.

A Drawing A Day 0841

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 12

The rightmost figure still resting, I found the one on the left too dark in the darks. I brought it a bit back and got a much better illusion of the reflected light coming from the bottom left. In a way, the strong contrast where the light meets the dark on the chest, is less effective on the yesterday’s version. The thing is, if the scene is lit by a strong source of light, the one that can create so much contrast at the edge of light, then it must be able to produce a serious amount of reflected light too. In other words, there was nothing wrong with the way the left figure was shaded yesterday, but it seems to be more convincing with the large amount of reflected light.

I am also adding a bit more of that light to the middle figure. Right now the left figure seems to be the benchmark for correct lighting. Will have to see how it looks when all three figures arrive at the same lighting.

A Drawing A Day 0840

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 11

In this version working more with light. Tightening the meeting point of light and dark across the leftmost body, adding more internal definition to the middle figure. Now I’ll see how far can I push the shaded areas on the figure on the left. It’s getting quite dark as it is and I’m starting to loose some of the reflected light on the torso. Might have to dial it back a bit.

A Drawing A Day 0839

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 10

Ok, so, slight changes in working out the light on the trunk of the leftmost figure. Especially pushing the darks and lights. It is important to establish what will be the darkest dark and the lightest light in the drawing, because in order to present a logical harmony all the values in the drawing will fall somewhere between those two extremes. Even if the lightest light is one single dot of a highlight and the darkest dark just one dot in a skin fold, somehow we perceive it and our brain creates a scale of values. For the drawing magic to work, it has to have an acceptable logic, such as, similar places in similar conditions must have similar values. The very simplified explanation would be: What is turned away from light is darker (let’s omit reflected light for the moment) and what faces light is lighter. If all the shapes in the drawing follow this rule, then our brain can work out the source of light and the magic happens. If there’s no consistency, the drawing becomes messy and looses believability. This is quite a problem when one is trying to draw the figure in an environment where there are 2, 3, 4, 5, or more sources of light. Next time you do life drawing, look around how many lights are in the room. Is there also daylight coming in? How many cast shadows does a single arm have?

But back to the image below. So, while leaving alone the middle and the rightmost figure, I experiment with the extremes. The darkest dark, such as the skin fold on the lower abdomen and the lightest light, such as the highlights on the knee and lower leg – both of the highlights were created only by erasing the water colour tone, thus exposing slightly the white paper underneath. I try to visualise what it would be like if I follow the same set of values across all three figures. What will it do to the background? Will I keep the depth roughly the same? The knee and the lower leg are closer to the observer than the shoulders and face. According to the aerial perspective the contrast of the extremes should be more pronounced in the front than in the back. Should I try to create a sense of space that way? Hmmm…quite a few decisions to make.

A Drawing A Day 0838

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 09

Continuing in the same direction, adding but also removing and / or altering existing elements. For example the line detail on the right hand of the middle figure (right from the figure’s point of view) has now less contrast, however the forearm has now more definition, and so has the trunk of the body. Same lessening of a fairly strong contrast is happening with the chest, shoulders and the right upper arm. In other words, the lights got a little darker and the darks got a little lighter. Almost like narrowing the value range.

A Drawing A Day 0837

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 08

A further clarifying of light on the leftmost figure and now I can start to define the the middle one. Since the figures on either side give me a bit of light calibration I can move forward with the middle figure tending to both, tone and line.

A Drawing A Day 0836

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 07

So, before doing any more work on the middle figure I’ve decided to explore the lighting conditions a bit further. In my experience, drawing is a kind of a dance. I have several features at hand that need work – composition, anatomy, light, line and tone….and I suppose, part of the creative process is tending to one or more of these at a time. I take the anatomy further by the refinement of line and tone and then leave it for a while until I establish the light. Now by tending to light, I suppose, I also alter the anatomy. Perhaps other parts of anatomy are now more important that before. Now that I have adjusted the anatomy, the light has changed too…..and so on and so on. You get the picture. It is a dance of going back and forth until one is happy with the magic.
So, I have adjusted the light on the leftmost figure compared to the yesterday’s drawing by increasing the intensity of the contrast where the light meets the dark. That indicates that the light falling on these figures is quite strong. Not the kind of softish, diffused, averaged out light.

A Drawing A Day 0835

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 06

So, I put in the third figure as an in between pose. Tracking the change in posture from far left to the far right. The middle one is very rough at this stage, however it also gives a good estimate of how much changes one can get away with when drawing lightly. As I said earlier the water colour coating is great for creating lighter tones by erasing some of the colour, however it can be quite unforgiving when you need to erase a drawing mistake.
Also did a bit more definition on the right figure.

A Drawing A Day 0834

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 05

What I’m trying to do in this version is to push the shading to a certain extent so that I can start balancing the composition. So, now the drawing is a bit heavier on the right. Seem a bit better balanced that yesterday, although there is still quite a bit of space on the far left. I think I will need to sketch in the third figure in the middle next.

A Drawing A Day 0833

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 04

It boils down to a personal preference when choosing one of the 2 common ways of building a drawing. One being a complete focus on construction. Pretty much disregarding the tone and light, working only with lines to build the outline of the figure. This way you could also outline the shaded areas inside the body without really filling them with tone.
The second approach is to work primarily with tone and build the figure using the connection and / or juxtaposition of tonal shapes.
I would recommend the construction approach when learning to draw. There are a fewer things to consider and therefore fewer opportunities to make mistakes. Once the drawing is solidly built then one can focus entirely on the tone and light.

The way I work is a bit of both. I like to start with the construction approach but soon enough I get enticed by the light and have to add a bit of that as well. In this state I am adding a second figure and slightly regret I did not plan the composition more carefully. I should have placed the first figure further to the left to fit 3 figures comfortably, now that I started to indicate the third one in the middle, the three of them feel a bit sqeezed with some spare room on the far left. We’ll see how this works out.

A Drawing A Day 0832

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 03

Earlier I forgot to mention the paper. The yellowish tone is done by applying some water colour to the white Accademia paper. The only drawback I can think of with this process, is, that it limits the ability to use an eraser. The colour rubs off and thus creates a lighter tone. I use this device to create a scale between a highlight done in white chalk on top of the surface and a lighter than background tone done by erasing some of the watercolour. It’s only a problem if you need to erase your black chalk without wanting to reveal some of the whiteness of the paper underneath. Some bypass this problem by building a solid drawing on a separate sheet of paper and then transferring this semi finished drawing onto the toned paper.

I am progressing the drawing by refining the existing work rather than adding more features such as to the head, hands or feet and lower legs. I am kind of building both, the light and the construction at the same time alternating between the tools – line and tone (shapes of the surface).
Again, although I am refining the existing work, still, I am not very worried about either the lines or tone being exact in position and quality. I found that it ads a playful freshness to the drawing. It also allows me to get back to my anatomy books and work out what is happening on the model should I get lost and then make the changes I need.

Comparing state 2 and 3.
At number 1 – refining of the tone by adding more detail to the size, intensity and position of the shapes. At number 2 – refining the lines a little past the point where the rectus femoris of the quadriceps group originates and interacts (in this position of the upper leg in relation to the pelvis) with tensor fasciae latae.

A Drawing A Day 0831

The following is a black chalk drawing on toned Fabriano Accademia paper,
50 x 70cm

Progress Shot 02

This is the second state of the drawing. The initial intention was to draw the same body in a few different poses (2 or more). Preferably in poses that would show the change of the bodily masses and shapes in such a way that one would be able to look back and forth between the bodies to track the change.
My usual method is first to establish the structure of the body. The construction. This is quite important as no amount of wonderful shading at the end will compensate for lack of structure and the drawing will still end up lacking.
So that’s mainly what was happening in yesterday’s drawing (progress shot 01), although I have to admit I do get sidetracked by light here and there before the solid construction is in place. So yesterday I already started to indicate some borders of shaded areas before I was entirely happy with the building of the body. For example the lower legs.

In today’s version I further clarified the lines of the outline. For example by making the down plane (red arrow) at the bottom of the rib cage on the right side quite strong so as to indicate it is turned away from the light and thus quite dark. Small signals like that will go unnoticed by conscious mind, however they are picked up unconsciously and greatly contribute to the creation of the illusion of three dimensionality.
I have also filled fairly uniformly the large shapes of shaded areas to create a semi uniform tone. At this stage everything is fairly loose and can be changed and fine tuned. Of course the lightness of the chalk is a must to be able to makes changes.