Project 2 Exercise 4 Shadows and Reflected Light

Aim of Exercise

To draw two objects with reflective surfaces showing shadows and reflected light.

The Process

I chose to draw a stainless steel coffee pot and a stainless steel teapot placed in natural light from a window. Although the window was south facing, it was an overcast and rainy day resulting in a diffuse light that remained at a similar low intensity throughout the exercise. I drew with charcoal on A2 lightweight cartridge paper, starting with marking down some important lines to define the pots. I put in the deep cast shadows with sweeps of charcoal on its side, including the areas of shadow on the coffee pot from the tea pot. I then delineated the areas of direct reflected light (the areas on which the light fell directly onto the stainless steel). I then lightly coloured in the mid tones around these areas. This then enabled me to pick out with a putty rubber the areas of reflected light that were then reflected in the opposite pot! I smudged the charcoal as i found this to be a good representation of the smoothness of the steel surfaces. Some adjustments to the coffee pot lid and the furthest edge of the cast shadow of the teapot were needed when I stepped back for a long view. The outline of the original marks can still be seen in my final image.

Tea or Coffee?
Tea or Coffee?


I am really rather pleased with the outcome of this exercise! Not only have I managed a fairly accurate likeness to my tea and coffee pots (all those curves!) but I feel that the reflections and shadows are believable and suggest in both cases that the pots are made out of a shiny metal. Smudging the charcoal to give a smooth finish helps with this.

Tea of Coffee? Detail
Tea of Coffee? Detail

I particularly like the way that the two pots are reflected in each other, albeit in a distorted fashion due to the roundness of both pots. Some things didn’t work out so well, the side of the spout of the teapot appears a bit flat as if the spout was formed from angles in the metal ,when in reality the sides are rounded.

Tea or Coffee? Detail
Tea or Coffee? Detail

In addition, the angle of the top of the teapot handle is not quite acute enough. This doesn’t detract from the final image however, and I love the way the handle is reflected in the body of the teapot both in shadow and bright reflected light.

The cast shadows were interesting. It may have been the diffuse light but the intensity of the cast shadows varied a lot throughout the composition – more than I was originally expecting.

Tea of Coffee? Detail
Tea of Coffee? Detail

This is best seen in the cast shadow of the tea pot which had very dark areas under the teapot and towards the furthest edge, but the shadow cast by the teapot handle literally petered out as suggested in my image.

On reflection (no pun intended!) choosing two objects with different surfaces may have provided more contrast (such as the example of a stainless steel pot and a ceramic bowl given in the narrative for the exercise). I did experiment with various objects (ceramic cups and bowls) before starting this exercise but thought that the intensity of the light was too low to make interesting reflections on the less shiney surfaces that all my ceramic bits and pieces seem to have. Thus I chose two stainless steel objects which I felt presented a more interesting challenge for the task in hand.

What I learnt

1. This exercise required really carefully observation of tones to get a realistic impressions of reflections.

2. The curves and angles of the reflections needed to be quite accurate to give an impression of roundness of these objects

3. Working in natural light was more successful that on previous occasions, probably due to the lack of really bright sunlight.

Project 2 Exercise 4 Shadows and Reflected Light

2 thoughts on “Project 2 Exercise 4 Shadows and Reflected Light

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