The next stage in this sphere drawing tutorial is to draw a believable background for the sphere.
Drawing a background is like creating a stage for your subject. A believable environment can make the subject itself appear more realistic and believable
To review how to draw the block-in of the sphere shown to the left, please visit this page.
As we transition from the block-in to this next stage of drawing, we also shift from thinking in terms of line drawing to thinking about tonal, or value drawing.
During the block-in, you looked at the sphere with your eyes wide open, so as to see the placement of the object and its subtle contours clearly.
To "set the stage" and draw the background, we will look at the sphere in a different way.
Give yourself at least a few minutes to put down your pencil and simply observe the subject. Begin by looking at the sphere with your eyes open, as you have done up to this point. Then, half-close your eyes (squint), and observe how the values change. Use questions such as the ones below to guide your observation.
What visual information disappears when I squint at the sphere?
In my case, I can no longer see a sharp line where the back of the shadow box meets the surface on which the sphere rests. Also, the core shadow darkens to the point that it merges with the background. Because of this, I can't make out exactly where the sphere ends and the background begins.
How does the contrast in the scene change when I squint?
The separation of light and dark becomes very noticeable. The dark values look darker, and the light values look lighter, which means that the contrast has increased. Since the lit portion of the sphere looks much brighter, it becomes the obvious focal point, while everything else becomes secondary.
Try not to take any one part of your drawing to a finish before establishing the values of the other areas. Without other values to compare to, it's difficult to determine how accurate you are, and you don't want to have to lighten or darken an area that you have spent time evening out.
To determine the value of a certain area, compare it to other values in the scene.
When I squint at the sphere, I can see that just below it, the occlusion shadow, is pitch black. I mark the darkest portion of it, and I now have another variable, besides the white of the paper, to compare to.
When I compare the occlusion shadow to the upper background, I notice that they are almost the same value, and that I definitely have room to darken the background.
Continue working from left to right, and top to bottom on the remaining background elements.
At this point in the sphere drawing tutorial, I
have filled in the cast shadow and the surface on which the sphere
lies, and evened them out with a bristle brush.
However, the brush doesn't usually create a perfectly even surface. What is stopping my image from looking realistic (aside from the not yet drawn sphere), is the unevenness of the charcoal application.
After you have brushed the charcoal, take a sharp pencil and use the tip to fill in the spaces in the charcoal so that they are the same value as their surrounding areas. (This is known as rendering.) These spaces create unevenness in the values and are what break up the illusion of reality.
Remember the questions we asked ourselves before drawing the background? They greatly informed many of the decisions I made in this sphere drawing tutorial.
For example, I have not included any sharp lines in the background. I have made the border between the back wall and the surface on which the sphere sits into a very soft transition - the way I saw it when I squinted at the scene.
I felt that there was no good reason to include this sharp line in my drawing. Including it would only distract from the main subject of my image the sphere. Sharp lines attract the eye, and I didnt want the viewers eye resting on an element of the background.
Nothing should distract from the clear, intended statement of the picture...
Even if it is just a study of a sphere!
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