Who cares who shot Kennedy? What's all this jazz
about midtones, highlights and shadow?
Hightlights These are the whitest or
brightest areas of the drawing, it's where a given
surface on the subject is reflecting the actual light
source most efficiently. The highlight is a reflection
of the actual light source on the subject. In some cases
you can see the light source itself in the highlight. If
you look very closely to the highlight in the eye of a
person who was photographed in a studio setting, you
might see the square shape of the Soft Box Light used in
the photograph. The number of highlights on a subject is
limited only by the number of reflective surfaces on the
subject and the ability of the surfaces to reflect
light. The shape of the highlight depends on the surface
of the subject. If the subject is smooth and shiny like
a tea kettle the highlights will be very bright and
intense. If the subject is of a rougher consistency like
an orange, the highlight won't be so intense and be more
"diffused" and it may appear to melt completely into the
The three tones
The three tones in a drawing
of a face
Midtones As the name implies, this
tone is midway in between the highlight and the shadow.
It would show the "true" color and consistency of the
object. The highlights are brighter than the "true"
color, and the shadows are darker than the "true" color.
The midtone is usually going to be the majority tone
that is visible, the highlights and shadows are usually
a smaller part of the tonal range. But the area covered
by any of the tones will ultimately be determined by the
shape, constancy and size of the subject and also the
quality of the lights on the subject.
Shadows are the darkest area of the surface and will
take the most graphite to draw. Shadows can have really
sharp edges between it and the midtone or it can just
sort of gradually blend into the midtone. How the shadow
looks depends entirely on the surface of the object and
also the quality of the light.
In addition to the
shadows on the object itself, there's also the cast
shadow. This is the shadow that the object is making by
blocking the light. This shadow could have sharp
definition or it can be rather soft and blurry,
depending on the quality of the light that is casting