Shading Light and Form – Basics

Hey Welcome to Proko my name is Stan Prokopenko,
a lot of you have been asking for a video on shading. The first thing you need to understand
when starting to shade is how light affects the appearance of form and how to properly capture 3 dimensional form based on the characteristics of the light in the scene. In some of my previous videos I talked about
things like shapes, values and edges. But, How do we know what shape, value or edge to draw?
What exactly are we looking for? Well, we’re looking at Light and how it illuminates the
objects in our picture. Light is the reason we see anything and the characteristics of
light can completely change the appearance of the things it illuminates. So, I like to
analyze the light in the scene and try to capture it, so the viewer can FEEL the light.
Form looking 3-dimensional is a byproduct of correctly capturing the light on the form. Ok, so I hope I’ve convinced you that studying
light on form is important. Now let’s take a look at all the elements. For this I’m
gonna need an egg. For this I’m gonna need an egg. There are two main zones. Light and shadow.
The edge where the form transitions from light to shadow is the terminator. It’s located
at the tangent between the light source and the form. In other words, just before the
planes start to face away from the light. Lets start by talking about the SHADOW side There are two types of shadows. form shadow
is a shadow caused by the planes turning away from the light source. A cast shadow is caused
by one form blocking the light from hitting another form. This egg is blocking the light
from reaching this part of the table. You can find this shape by projecting lines from
the light source to the termination of the first form, and continuing those lines to
the obstructed form. Shadows will rarely be completely black. Light
bounces off objects in the environment and is reflected back into the shadows. This is
called reflected light. In this case the light will bounce off the paper and into the shadow
on the egg. Along the terminator, sometimes you will see
a core shadow. It’s a darker plane that defines the edge of the shadow. The thickness
and softness of the core shadow can vary quite a bit. It depends on the thickness of the
form, how sharp the edge is between the planes of light and dark, or the angle and position
of the reflecting light source. Sometimes you won’t see the core shadow
at all. Only if there is something on the shadow side, to reflect back enough light
to create a visible difference in value. This dark piece of paper reflects less light than
the white paper. You can see a drastic difference in the value of the reflected light. Also, regarding the visibility of a core shadow,
the reflection has to come from the right angle. If it’s directly behind the shadow
side, it will create a nice core shadow. If we move the reflection source closer to the
angle of the main light source, it will illuminate the area where the core shadow would have
been. If you don’t see a distinct core shadow,
many artists choose to cheat one in because it can add to the 3-dimensionality of the
form. Reflected light doesn’t just affect form shadows.
It also affects cast shadows. Less light can bounce into this deep crevice where the egg
and table meet, and so that area gets darker as it goes deeper. This is called an Occlusion
shadow. Moving on to the light zone, immediately after
the terminator, is the halftone. These are planes of the form that are partially hit
by the direct light. As the planes get closer and closer to facing the light, they will
get lighter. And the point where the form points directly at the light is called the
center light. The center light shouldn’t get confused
with the highlight. The difference between the two is that the center light is the plane
facing the light source, whereas the highlight is a reflection of the light source. A reflection
will move depending on where the viewer is. So let’s say this is the egg. The viewer,
or camera is down here, and the light source is over here. The center light will be here
facing the light source. The highlight however will need to be at the point where the light
can bounce off the surface of the egg and reach the viewer’s eyes. These two angles
need to be equal. If you’ve played billiards, this is very similar. To test this concept let’s mark the point
of the highlight, and mark another point for the center light. Now let’s move the camera
and see what happens. Ok, you can see here that the highlight moved to a different spot,
following the camera. The center of light hasn’t changed. It still pointing directly at the light source. Don’t let the math of all this confuse you.
Highlights, and also cast shadows which we discussed earlier, can be changed and they
can still look believable. Nobodys going to call you on a highlight being in
the wrong spot. I can take the highlight on this egg, move it to a different spot, and
change the shape. And it still looks believable… I’ll often change the shape of a cast shadow
to better describe the form it is being cast onto. For example if I have an object that
casts a shadow appearing to go against the form. The form of this paper towel roll is
a cylinder and to show that I would change the cast shadow from the egg to wrap around
the cylinder. I usually try to describe the form that the shadow is casting on to, rather
than the form casting the shadow. So, give yourself artistic license. Learn
the rules, and then learn how you can break the rules to improve your drawing… Just want to let you guys know, I will be
releasing a DVD very soon. So, keep your eyes out. It’ll include all the video tutorials
I’ve done so far, PLUS a few extras that will be available only on the dvd. I’m hoping
to have it available in the next few weeks. And as always, if you liked this video, share
it with your friends. They might like it too. And don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing
list on to get the latest and greatest tutorials. See you next week.


  • Willow Evans

    You are a wonderful teacher!!! Thank you for your clear explanations.

  • andri sofyan

    "learn the rule & break the rule ?" ok!

  • Valerie Teo

    great video

  • John F. Kennedy

    is that why the terminator is gray???

  • gwen joplin

    Keep my eyes out . .? You mean keep a look out!! Lol

  • Golden Rose


  • mikel77

    Excellent teaching and you also add humor. Then at the end you show the extra's in the making of the video, reminiscent of Jackie Chan movies. Thanks!

  • Trey Dub-o-yoo

    Good stuff.

  • Kyrst Mitch

    really grateful for this video! i suffered an accident where i lost memory it has deeply effected my art work not so much my skill but forgetting howmto understand my shade slmost like i forgot this video has been extremely helpful! really thank you so so much!

  • Daisy Q.




  • AR Ghazi


  • Mark Anderson

    outstanding instruction with great production, perfect, accurate content and pacing.

  • OX enia

    Literally the most usefull video for any artist

  • Franco Rovedo

    This video just blew my mind hahaha

  • mab1947

    Wow! This is THE best explanation of how light affects shading! I am just learning to draw and no one ever explained it like you have. Thank you!!

  • Peter Henrichsen

    Super good video, exactly what I have been missing for a year. Really looking forward to drawing forms instead of just shapes now. Thanks so much for sharing. All best Peter (from Denmark, Europe)

  • Joseph Stalin

    HowToBasic has your back when it comes to eggs

  • jzs pv

    I need an egg! oh my God! lol

  • Aniqa Ibu

    Is the color theory video ever going to come? Proko just explains things so much better

  • Styph

    I love your videos, Stan! I feel that I learn a lot!

  • Hongs

    This is actually helpful in photography too! Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Iana Markarova

    This is literally the most useful video I've ever seen and I've seen hundreds of them! But now for the first time I REALLY understand the concept of the light, shadows, reflections, highlights and shit ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Hope Castle

    Outstanding explanation! Thank you Proko.

  • Sachie Reid

    You have to know the rule to break it ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Sachie Reid

    Very educational. Thank you.

  • amizam amizam

    1:15 howtobasic reference is strong here

  • J Skinner38

    96 ppl just hate learning cool shit

  • FUCKYOU YouTube

    Very good expanation. Well done. Only one thing. I disagree with breaking any rules. IMHO, graphics and games will look the more realistic the more simulated pyhsics accord to real life. That includes all light and shadow behaviour.

  • aisha parekh

    That was awesome thanks man



  • anzatzi

    Grear analysis! Great videography. thanks!

  • Unexpected

    This is one of the most helpful videos about this topic I've ever watched! Your explanations are very clear and relevant for artists, and your examples with real life objects are great. Thank you for this quality content!

  • Jawed Anwer


  • Jessica Taylor

    The egg part was too funny…LOL

  • Priyanka Modak

    Full of knowledge. Thank you!

  • mmedeuxchevaux

    you are eggceptional.

  • Alexandra Saunders

    I LOVED this video!! Thank you so so much for FINALLY bringing light ( no pun intended haha) to my eyes. You explain things so beautifully. I am just thrilled I found your videos and although I am not particularly interested in figure drawing I AM interested in wildlife art and your videos already have made a difference for me! Again THANK YOU!!!

  • BeHisLikeness

    What you are teaching only applies to a "rounded" "oval" "circular" shape???

  • Sri Kanth

    wow super sir

  • Aric Jiang


  • xiaoqing Lin

    This was super helpful & educating!

  • Nikka Llamas

    Hey call How To Basic

  • Professional Pretender

    0:55 you're welcome

  • onemessenjah

    I love youtube for videos like this. It has allowed me to get good art education without paying a school. Many thanks!

  • Ramhela Garlando

    Thank you proko!

  • Thomas Eulogy

    Hey, Proko thanks for all the vids, one question to anyone watching this vid: Whats the difference between core shadow and terminator line? Is teminator line just a "line" that can be sometimes seen within core shadow depending the lightning or?

  • PieSpaAppRarDaShy q

    do you remember dvd?

  • Raymond Rabara

    My stepping stone for success – eggs <3

  • S Wil

    I love this video! Your examples are really good and I think I finally get what is meant by the light reflecting back on an object. I love how you filmed this. Thank you for posting!

  • Rupal Shah

    There is so much of physics in this video

  • MysticTruck

    Perfect egg

  • Jack Donaghy

    mind blown! excellent video….. OK what if there are 20 people looking at the egg? 20 highlights?

  • Jack Donaghy

    Forgot to mention that you are among THE BEST art teacher online!!! thank you !!

  • Tristan Marsh

    Wow I had no idea howtobasic was a guest star in this video!

  • continuing to create

    my head hurts after watching this video i never knew light was so complicated—– this video is very informative for a beginner drawer!

  • Atila Balint

    YOU'RE HowToBasic!!! ,btw Thank You.

  • Ezra

    my whole life was a lie. I thought shadows were always black ๐Ÿ˜€ Thank you much proko and i'm super excited in starting this artistic journey!!

  • CiRuS1602

    I only found your channel, this my first video and I must say your teaching is very good and you got a new subscriber

  • Alice Raymond

    you're truly a generous knowledgeable man ๐Ÿ™‚

  • laup2ev

    Wow Stan, this video was amazingly informative! I especially like that you encourage the viewer to "break the rules" a little. I often find myself fussing too much about whether or not shadows look correct rather than use them as tools to bring out the shape of the objects they're being cast upon.

  • Scouty D

    DADDY ๐Ÿ˜ฉ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ’ฆ๐Ÿ†

  • RJ4Y

    1:16 "I'm not cleaning that up"

  • Soffeh Ato

    aaah this with the highlight makes so sense now. its so intuitive watching this!

  • Up and coming artists

    keep me post on your new cd .

  • Frankie Three

    This video is amazing! Just what I was looking for.

  • Last Bee

    I thought this was a how to basic video for a sec because of the thumbnail.

  • Lonnie Wyatt

    Excellent tutorial, thank you!

  • Prashan Subasinghe

    whats a dvd?

  • corey2-14AWAKEND

    Perfect example how the so called moon is lit up from the sun haha haha perfect example. The moon obviously gives off its own light

  • Hasny Ameen

    Thank you

  • Beth Bartlett

    Excellent presentation and comprehensive subject information in this tutorial !

  • kiran babu

    thanks so much..very helpful information.. But have question that – How this basic rules are applied and breaks the masters like William-Adolphe Bouguereau ,anthony van dyck, john singer sargent and illustrators adrew loomis, norman rockwell, n c wyeth.. everyone was different but how they own this rules and how they are executed light and values in different light setting …??

  • Enid torres

    Wow buddy this was excellent thank you so much for sharing your knowledge ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  • MinaVb Art

    its raining eggs ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Elicia Garcia

    Thank you so much, this is exactly what I needed. I can't stand the youtube vids that try to be goofy and don't actually give much clear straight forward and simple info. This is just what I needed and I like when you break the egg.

  • Elicia Garcia

    i wish i was smart enough to look at a drawing and recognize if a shadow is mathematically incorrect in its exact shape or placement. that would be impressive

  • Ash

    After months of binging Proko's content, I was almost sure the egg was drawn… to think it was real…

    You've duped me once again….

  • MarkosPadin

    What is the best Andrew Loomis' book for learning all the basics? Successful drawing??

  • Bungy

    1:15 HowToBasic

  • Sha

    so clear๏ผyou are a genius

  • Triumph

    4:34 You're proving the moon isn't a reflector of sunlight since there is never any defined highlight showing the source. Should be obvious to anyone who looks at the moon on a regular basis.

  • hazeroid


  • lizzy bramich

    This is boring, i recommend going to "draw with jazza" he has fun explanaition videos to help you get better at drawing.
    He also does fun challenges like he redraws a childs artwork or the sharpie challenge where he has to create an awesome artwork with only the basic colours of sharpies or when he tried to carve soap (that was funny)
    So come along to "drawing with jazza" for fun educational (and just a little bit silly) videos!!

  • Evelyn Anselm

    really great explanation! i love your channel ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Critstix Darkspear

    Still more popular than Kylie Jenner

  • TheLondonForever00

    Wow, this is excellent, thank you, it explains a lot ๐Ÿ‘

  • Artistic Mind

    that was very very very helpful for me … super cool tutorial … just love it <3

  • Kathleen Michaels-Salyers

    you are great! Thanks! Wonderful information- using it to build my sketch skill sets! Thanks so much! You're my cast shadow hero:)

  • Diego de Blas

    You should be paid for this video. Damn this is good!

  • Danielle Stevens

    Thanks for the video. I understand shading much better now.

  • Chris Ma

    he was so young and skinny then, wow!

  • Lori Carleton

    tangent?!!! tangent! TANGENT!!!!! DO I NEED TO STUDY GEOMETRY!??! ……(awkward silence)…stupid tangent ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bonnie Creevy


  • ะะปะธ ะ›ะฐั€ั€ะตั‚

    ะšะพั€ัะฒั‹ะน ะฟะตั€ะตะฒะพะด ะฝะฐ ั€ัƒััะบะธะน

  • Cherise90

    Super helpful. Thank You!

  • Luis Borrero, Visual Artist

    Very insightful video. This lesson is missing from just about every art school in the nation. Only private Ateliers are teaching these basics concepts to their students.

  • Eco Family

    One egg wasted

  • C C

    I will NEVER purchase Grammarly… in Fact, I will boycott every product advertised on YouTube. See if I don't.

  • ุซู‹ู„ูŽูˆูุฌูŽ ู…ูู€ุชูุตูู€ุขู‚ูŽุทูŒู€ุฉ

    ุดุฑุญูƒ ู…ููŠุฏ ุดูƒุฑุงโค


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