Consider How Small Forms Fit Within the ‘Fall of Light’

Following on from last week’s lesson – Blocking in Halftones – you should make sure that the smaller forms fit with the general ‘fall of light’ across the figure.  This means that forms nearer the light source should be generally lighter than equivalent forms further from the light.

Forms that turn towards the shadow will still need to get sufficiently dark as the turn into the bedbug line but subtle forms that sit in areas of light (protruding bones or muscles in the upper back or chest for example) should be much lighter if they are near a light source.


Treat Each Form With Care

As you find and render the smaller forms, treat each one with equal care and attention. The human figure is made up of numerous complex forms that fit together in an elaborate and elegant manner. As a figurative artist, it is your job to observe the specific nature of these forms and their relationship to one another in order to express them in an artistic manner.

At times, this will mean playing down certain forms and embellishing others. For instance, if you want to draw attention to a shoulder, the forms in this area should be more detailed, textured and higher contrast than the other parts of your figure. This will ensure that the viewer’s eye is most attracted to the shoulder rather than any other portion of the figure.

These considerations are compositional and affect how the viewer will interact with your drawing. At this stage of a drawing you will be working with subtler details and changes in order to make something more considered and artistic.


Think About Texture

Once you begin rendering smaller forms you can start thinking about texture. Different parts of the figure will have different textures. An obvious example is chest hair on a male figure, the hair will make the form more patchy and scratchy than smoother areas of skin. In order to achieve this texture you will need to alter your marks. Making the tone even and gradual will make for a smooth texture, whereas applying a more varied and patchy tone will give the impression of a rougher texture.

The texture is most apparent at the halftones because the light is raking across (perpendicular to) the forms before they turn to light. So it is best to make textures rougher in the darkest halftones and leaves the texture more even in the lighter portions of the drawing.

Finally, take a look at how shiny the surface of the figure is: places where the skin is more taut (stretched over bone) or oily (the face, particularly the nose and forehead) tend to be shinier. To give the impression of shininess, you will need to add a highlight. On white paper, this requires a light tone overall the figure with specific point (or highlights) erased to white. Highlights tend to more apparent on figures with darker skin tones.