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The Use of Shadows

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 1, 2017

There are some comics where shadows don’t really exist- like Tintin where nothing casts a shadow at all. In other comics, shadows play a huge part, like Sin City. And yet in others they are just part of the natural environment of the comic and nothing more.

All are legitimate options in a comic. However, the use of shadows can be a great ally to the artist for a wide range of functions, such as suspense building and foreshadowing, contrast and drama.

Casting long shadows on the face can indicate the character’s emotional state- depression, contemplation, regret or grief.

Shadows that completely obscure the eyes might be a sign of evil, or the character being possessed by a terrible emotion, or the character being sly or untrustworthy.

Shadows that make the character into a silhouette can be used to underline the tone or mood of the scene, highlight action or signify that something absolute or irreversible has happened.

A room that is cast in odd shadows that perhaps highlight only hints of elements in the room creates suspense and tension by manipulating the element of the unknown as the character enters the room.

Of course these are not the only uses by far! Depending on the context and the pacing and tone of your scenes, the suspenseful can become threatening or comedic; the dramatic can become grim; the sly can become tragic.

I have consciously tried to use shadows to some of these effects. What about you?



PaulEberhardt at 5:52AM, April 2, 2017

I kind of envy those who can use shadows to great effect. It's one of my weaker points, to be honest. It's not for that reason, though, that in my comic, I opted for the Tintin-technique and consciously make do without any shadows at all. As you rightly said, it's another way to define the look of your artwork. In Tintin's case it makes everything look more clear and precise. In my case it makes everything look more sketchy, and I'm quite happy with that as it fits the general tone.

bravo1102 at 1:42PM, April 1, 2017

When I did a horror comic I added an extra layer of shadows to all the images.

Banes at 11:18AM, April 1, 2017

Great stuff! I just picked up the book "drawing noir comics" and tenet number one is using shadows and blackness.

KimLuster at 9:46AM, April 1, 2017

Shadows scare me haha... and not just in comics! Seriously, I LOVE the effect shadows can have, but I'm timid when using them... When I finish a face or body, I toy with where to put shadows, and fill I'm going to ruin the other detail I've created by covering with Shadow!! I need to get over it :D

ozoneocean at 4:28AM, April 1, 2017

Yep, I love shadows! Though mine are usually in coloured images. I love to play with the lighting in a scene! ^_^

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