Getting a Handle on Direct Lighting

by Glenn Vilppu

This is the eleventh in a series of articles on drawing for animation. In these articles I will be presenting the theory and practice of drawing as a "how to" instructional series. The lessons are based upon the Vilppu Drawing Manual and will in general follow the basic plan outlined in the manual. This is the same material that I base my seminars and lectures on at the American Animation Institute, UCLA, and my lectures at Disney, Warner Bros. and other major studios in the animation industry, both in the U.S. and their affiliates overseas. If you have not seen the previous lessons starting in the June 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine, it is recommended that you do. The lessons are progressive and expand on basic ideas. It is suggested that you start from the beginning for a better understanding of my approach.

Illustration No. 1

Direct Lighting
In the last chapter, we discussed indirect lighting, the modeling tone, and started on atmospheric perspective, which we will be dealing with more in Chapter 12. Direct lighting is what we normally see when we have a strong single light source. Sunlight on a clear day is an example. The basic elements of direct lighting are highlights, halftone, core, reflected light, and cast shadow (see Illustration No.1). The luminosity of a drawing is affected by how the reflected light is surrounded by the core and the cast shadow. In thinking of the reflected light, each surface that the light reflects from is, in essence, a light source. In practice, it is generally a good idea to use only one reflected light and one direct light. It is important to always keep a clear distinction between the direct light and the reflected light.

All drawings in this article are by and © Glenn Vilppu.
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