Lighting a Panel/Page

Lighting a Panel or Page may not be at the top of an artists thinking when they start a new piece of art, but it should be.  As a comic book illustrator and creator, I am always working to improve my art.  Online Comic Heroes has a rich resource list of articles and lessons.  Lighting or shading creates a more realistic aspect to your art.  It give depth and volume to your art and will set you apart from an average artist.

Where is the light source coming from on your page, or in a particular panel?  This does not have to be the first thing you consider when laying out a panel, however before you finalize the panel this has to be considered. The sun, a street light, or a lamp in a room are all sources to consider.

I remember the first portfolio review I ever had with a professional comic book artist.  Right away he zeroed in on the lighting source of the panels.  I had put a great deal of time and effort into capturing a realistic environment and telling the story visually, without any word balloons.  But what did he see?  A made up light direction that did not make sense.  As soon as he pointed it out, I could see what he was talking about.  He was not judgmental or critical in his approach, he genuinely was trying to help me.  I remember it and I want to help you.   

Lighting a Panel demonstration

Once you have established where the light source is, place your shading in the right places.  If the light is directly above the shading goes downward.  The sun at high noon casts very little shadow on a figure.  Sun set or sun rise will cast that long dramatic shadow on a character.

In the example, see the light source is coming from the left side.

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