How to Do Frontal Shading

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Frontal shading typically needs to be done in a very particular way for the best results. Learn how to do frontal shading with help from an experienced graphic designer and illustrator in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Drawing & Art
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Video Transcript

Hi, everyone. My name's Gene, I'm an illustrator and a graphic designer. I have been working in the industry for a little over 15 years, and today we're gonna take a look at frontal shading. So this is a very interesting technique, let's jump right in to it. Alright, so, let's talk about frontal shading, and right now we're gonna shade a face, because a face to me has a bunch of different facets, it's something that's familiar to people, and I can kind of show you all the different techniques. Now in this case, frontal shading means essentially shading that is in the front. So your light source is coming from behind and slightly to either side. Before we get started you have to understand and remember that the face is essentially a cylinder, okay? So, if we were shading a cylinder from the back, it would have bands of shading. So remember, it's not a perfect cylinder. The light comes in around the face the same way that it would around a cylinder, but you have flat areas here along the chin, you have a flat area on, in your cheeks, on your forehead. So, if you took a cylinder and squished down the front of it so that it was flat, you still have cylindrical areas, like your forehead essentially is a cylindrical area, but the very very front of it is flat, and the fact that there are muscles that jet out up here, which are essentially your expressors for your eyebrows, it changes the shape from that perfect cylinder, and gives it more contour and more texture. So keep all of that in mind as you're shading around it, is that even though it's a cylinder, if you just shade it as though it, it actually is a cylinder, you're gonna get a cylinder and not a human face. Keep in mind the flat areas, keep in mind the areas of your face that have sharp indentations, and then they go into flat areas, and sort of along the cheek and chin area here, where it's flat along the cheeks in a different direction. It's not flat facing forward, it's flat at an angle. So keep all of that in mind as you're shading. So the darkest one would be the furthest away from the light. So, we're just gonna do this in the center here, and then it would get lighter as time went on. And by time I mean distance, not time. So the second part of the shading that we're gonna do is, the first part we've done here in the very, very furthest part away from the light source, and as you saw the cylinder, the closer the skin gets to the light source, the brighter it's gonna be. So we started out shading in this very first line area, and whatever was closest to that and facing away from the light source, and now we're gonna take a step just outside of that, and we're gonna fade that darker part into the light. If the light source is directly behind this guy's head, then essentially, I'm just gonna draw a line down the center, anything that is along this line is going to be the darkest. So, I'm just gonna start shading out from the center. We'll say following the contours of his face here. This is all going to be, in anything that is facing away from this, is all going to be in shade. So essentially the right down to the end of his nose, this area in here, this part of his mouth is all going to be in shadow, in darkness, his chin, all of this we know is facing directly away from our light source. So this is all going to be the darkest part of the shadowing. So I'm just gonna quickly, quickly fill all of this in. Now, before we get there, the face is not entirely a cylinder, so there are also some areas over by the eyes, which are going to be darker, simply because they're also facing away from the light. So, I'm just gonna do the fronts of the eyelids here, and this front part of the cheek is going to be mostly in shadow. And remember, follow the contours of the face, and for this, you're just gonna have to do quite a bit of life drawing, and, you know, figuring out exactly, maybe take some anatomy classes, exactly what the face is going to look like. Once we have what looks kind of like a football player at this point, we're gonna shade a little further out. So now, we take this basic cylinder idea and we give it a second layer of shading. So in this case, we're gonna go a little bit lighter, and just go a little further out with our shading. Same thing on the other side, 'cause remember, the human face is more or less symmetrical. And anywhere that would not be affected in either direction this way is going to be now shaded a little darker. And essentially it's going to be more or less along the outsides of what we've already shaded. So here we go. There's gonna be a little indentation here on the cheek, where the lower mandible, well really the only mandible, where the mandible and the maxilla meet, right in this area, because there's a giant muscle behind this, and they're only connecting muscles in between, so there's gonna be a little space there. And, there you have it. There's your basic really, really rough, frontal shading. This is often used just to create dramatic tension in scenes, because it's a shading that you don't see very often, and it's difficult to see the inner part of the person's expression. So there you go. Frontal shading. Alright, so there you have it, you can achieve some very dramatic results using those techniques, and so that's all. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Thanks for watching.


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