Friday, November 5, 2021

Tips for Dappled Light

Dappled light should be felt rather than seen too obviously.

But to make it convincingly felt, you have to be aware of the size and orientation of the spots of light, even in a relatively quick sketch. This is the finished painting with a tracing over it.

The circular spots of light are projected from the small "pinhole" apertures of the tree canopy, forming a skinny cone of light that gets wider and wider the farther it travels. The higher the tree canopy, the larger the spots. 

(Image credit

The circular spots are really projections of the sun itself, proven by the fact that during a solar eclipse, the circular spots become crescent shaped.

When those cones of light intersect a flat surface obliquely, they become elliptical spots of light, consistent in size.

So for this little painting I had to hint at the effect of those elongated spots of light as they splashed across the stonework, the windows, and the door. But I couldn't forget to render the pattern of stonework and mortar running in and out of the pattern of ellipses.
Don't miss the new 8.5 minute YouTube video "How to Paint Dappled Light."


Harry said...

I have to ask...How did you make the huge "Department of Art" pencil prop?

James Gurney said...

An empty can of baked beans and some spare cardboard.

Susan Krzywicki said...

So, did you paint the stone work in a relatively consistent color/pattern and then wash shade over the non-dappled spots?

James Gurney said...

Susan, I think I painted the shadows first and then added in the stonework.