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Highlighting Faces: An Unexpected Reference Source


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The subject of faces, and where to place highlights / shadows, has come up in the forum a couple times recently.  Of course, this has led me to staring at faces at the store, on YouTube, in magazine ads, trying to get a feel for where said highlights / shadows are falling in real life and photographs.  This morning, however,I ran across an unexpected -- but surprisingly useful -- set of examples:  court drawings.

 

While a newscaster was talking about some court proceedings, illustrations by a court artist were being displayed full-screen as part of the presentation.  Just like I've been doing for everything else, I found myself looking at the faces, noticing where the illustrator had placed highlights / shadows -- and I came to the realization that the quick simplicity of court art is actually a great place to see this!  There's really minimal fussy details in these works, but things like shape contour and lighting are used extensively to quickly capture a sense of the scene.  By definition, court artists are working quickly, so have to distill what they're seeing into the most minimal (yet still realistic) depiction of events.  All the pictures, then, boiled down to just about nothing but the use of highlight / shadow for defining a face and an expression.  I've now watched (but not really listened to) the same news report three times; studying the court artwork is proving really interesting and useful.

 

I pass this along for the good of the many.  :poke:

Edited by Painting Dog
Grammar / spelling corrections
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