There's nothing more frustrating than creating the best piece of artwork imaginable... and then ruining it with some average shadow work. That's the difference between something that looks ordinary on a piece of paper and something that looks realistic when using markers. Don't be part of the first group. Here's how to draw a shadow of an object using markers.
It all starts with the light source
If you're diving into your artwork with markers without taking the light source into consideration, then you're not going to have proper shadows.
Pick your light source. You can have it anywhere you want on the paper too. It's important because where you place your light source determines how you'll be creating your shadows. Look at the image below as an example.
Julia Anna Gospodarou (producer of the image above) has got a great blog post to help you get further to grips with shading. Check it out here.
Look at how high the light source is. When it hits the object, the lines tell you just how long the cast shadow will be. It applies on the flip side, too. If the light source was lower down, then the cast shadow would be smaller.
How shadows are used on objects ('core shadows')
When creating shadows of objects, it's not just the cast shadow that you need to worry about.
As you'll see in the example above, there are shadows you'll need to create on the object itself. Again, it all depends on where you place your light source.
The light source is at roughly ten o'clock, so that's why the highlight near there has the most light and there's no shade and no shadows whatsoever.
Then at the mid tone, you can begin to see some shading and shadows. This defines the lights and darks of the object when the light hits on it yet still has the bare support to show through as the mid tone.
Then focus on the bottom of the actual object itself. Obviously, that area gets no light so you'll be shading a darker shadow there with your marker.
Finally, think about the actual cast shadow itself while keeping your light source into account. The light source is blocked by the object from hitting the ground. So shade your cast shadow with your marker depending on where your light source is.
A friendly reminder: If your light source is high up compared to the object, then your cast shadow will be shorter. If your light source is lower, then make your cast shadow longer.
Stop seeing life in black and white, and color like no other
Now you know the basics of creating shadows and where to play them on or around objects, step out of your comfort zone and understand that it can be just as simple when using colored markers.
Shadows don't just have to be in black and white. Let's run through how you can create something similar using markers.
Pick the light source & add natural highlights
Once you have your object then choose a color. For best results, try an alcohol-based marker and if you can, use a marker where you can dilute the color to make it more translucent. Use the lighter tones to show where the light source hits an object (highlights).
This creates volume and form while giving the object a true-to-life appearance. Start closest to the light source and work towards the darker areas. The further down the object you get, the darker and more saturated colors should appear.
Add depth & shading
Continue to shade side to side. Again, the further down you get on the object, the darker the color from the marker should be.
This is because the darker tones are adding shading and dimension. So, it's important that you go over the darkest areas again as you'll need this for darker and richer tones.
You'll then be able to see clearly that the bottom area isn't receiving as much light as the upper area.
Add dimension with cast shadows
Pick a different color to the one you used for the object. Again, it doesn't need to be a black.
With a lighter tone, color around the bottom of the object to create the cast shadow effect. Don't do it too light or too dark. Experiment with the color on a scrap paper before adding the shadow effect.
Show off a little bit more with a tint overlay
Go the extra mile and pick a different colored marker to add an overlay on the highlights.
We're not making the white areas disappear. Subtly add a hint of yellow around the edges of the highlights which adds more depth - as if the light is bouncing off the object.
There you have it. How to create shadows, how the light source is important, the directions the shadows go in and how to incorporate colors - all made simple by following these basic steps. Try them out for yourself and share your progress with the Chameleon Creative Community on Facebook or via #ChameleonPens on Instagram.
Try some more inspiring tips to unlock your full coloring potential
Whatever your skill level, get ready for our fantastic free guide that's filled with useful tips, templates to practice with, and ideas and inspiration. It's something we've put together to help make sure you can keep developing your talent. We already send monthly tips and tutorials out in our newsletter via email and this guide will be building on that.