Friday, November 18, 2016

Using Cast Shadows for Depth

The late afternoon sun is casting shadows across this street in Poughkeepsie. Bands of light and shadow crossing the middle ground can add a lot of depth to a scene like this. 

The shadows also reveal the crown of the road. Streets are always slightly crowned to allow the water to flow off to the sides.


Carlos said...

James, what type of scanner do you use?

Tom Hart said...

I've found this to be a very effective technique. In addition to adding depth to the scene, horizontal shadows can be helpful, and can even save the composition of the scene. The object casting the shadow doesn't necessarily have to be identified or in the scene - it can be "off stage" especially if the shadow is in the foreground. Such a shadow can be a nice way to indicate that the viewer is looking into a scene, another example of the way these shadows suggest depth.

Todd said...

I have always referred to the lines and shadows that reveal surfaces (like the shadows cast across the road in this sketch) as cross-contour lines. They are very effective for showing depth and dimension.

Robert said...

I remember hearing an artist point out some main techniques to further the illusion of depth, and the use of cast shadows was one of them. The other techniques they mentioned were
-To overlap things as much as possible.
-To have at least two similarly sized objects, one in the foreground and one in the background, to highlight the change in size
-To foreshorten things as much as possible
-To have a scene with a convergence of perspective lines, like a row of buildings converging to a vanishing point.
-The use of paint impasto. Heavy impasto for foreground objects, and thin paint for distant ones.
-Heavy outlines for objects in the foreground, and thin ones for objects in the background.
-And the subtle use of exaggerated aerial perspective to make objects in the distance look further away.

Just thought I would mention them since the topic of creating depth in a picture came up. I think they are great techniques. I try to practice them from time to time, and I just thought I would share them. Once again, very interesting topic James.

James Gurney said...

Carlos, it's a Canon D530.

Tom, good points! Todd, I forgot that term, but it fits perfectly.

Robert, thanks for that list. Very good to keep those in mind.