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Watercolor Techniques Using Color & Light For Ultra-Dramatic Paintings

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Introduction to Key Components of Natural Light: Part Two, Step One

Illuminated Surfaces, Shade, Shadows, and Reflections

Let’s start with some common definitions for these terms:

light-14-shade

  • Illuminated surfaces: The surfaces of an object that are lit by the available light source.
  • Shade: The surfaces of an object that are away from and not illuminated by the light source, also known as the “form shadow”.
  • Shadows: The shapes cast by an illuminated object upon adjacent forms and surfaces. Shadows are transformed by the shape of the form or surface where they appear. These are also known as the “cast shadow”.
  • Reflections: The reversed image, color, and value of an object that may be seen in adjacent forms and surfaces under favorable lighting conditions.

General Rules of Thumb:

  • Composition: Either the illuminated areas or the shadow areas should dominate to maximize the effect of light in landscapes. When illuminated areas and shadow areas are approximately equal, the effect of lighting is reduced, and the risk of a “static” composition is increased.
  • Temperature: In normal natural light, illuminated objects tend to be “warmer” and objects in shade and shadow tend to be “cooler”.
  • Intensity and value: Shadows are a more intense color and darker value than shade.