The Representation of Cornices and Cornice Shadows.

Figure 33. The Representation of Cornices and Cornice Shadows.

This one illustration is doubtless sufficient to show that the draftsman must work for a wholly different result in a sketch from that required in an elevation, forgetting or merely suggesting many of the tiny members, in obtaining the broad effect. As a further example we might add that in drawing a window he must not allow his knowledge of the blind-stop, the pulley-style and the parting-strip to interfere with the simplicity of the result; - in fact whatever the detail may be, the same care should be taken not to overemphasize relatively unimportant portions of the subject.

Let us return for a moment to our discussion of cornices, for they contribute so much to the effect of a building that extreme care must always be used in their representation. First of all do not overdarken the projecting portions, for it is the contrast of the light corona against the shadow below which gives the desired sense of projection. We might also speak again of the advantage which may sometimes be gained by using a graded shadow below a cornice, allowing the tone to gradually darken towards the bottom, thus giving transparency at the top and a clean-cut contrast at the lower edge. (See Chapter VI (Cast Drawing) and illustration 4 at the top of Figure 28.) Remember, too. that the cornice shadow is usually made darkest at the corner of the building nearest the spectator, lightening gradually as the walls recede, thus adding to the effect of distance. There is sometimes a question as to how much detail should be shown in a cornice shadow, and the answer to this is not easy, for all depends on the size and purpose of the drawing. If it is large and made as a means of studying the proportions and detail it may prove necessary to draw every modil-lion and dentil, but if it is small or made simply to give the general effect, the less important parts can be omitted. Sometimes mutules or brackets or rafter ends or any details with considerable projection are left white or nearly so, for if the sketch is small and such parts are drawn in their true values they may be lost in the darkness of the shadow. This point is illustrated by Sketch 1, Figure 33, in which the rafter ends are shown lighter than they would probably be in the executed work. In some drawings such details are made quite distinct in a few places, especially in those parts of the building nearest the eye, and then made less definite or omitted in others. If well done this treatment gives an excellent impression with a minimum expenditure of time and effort.

Of the various ways of building up a shadow there are three which are in general use. The first is illustrated at "B," Figure 33. where the lines composing the shadow are so merged together as to make it difficult to tell their direction, - in fact in a shadow where the lines themselves are so indefinite this direction is unimportant and the tone may be formed in the most convenient way. In the second method, illustrated at "1" and "2," Figure 33, the shadow value is "built up" by a succession of adjacent strokes, either touching or nearly so, the strokes being often drawn in a vertical position, as our illustrations show, but sometimes taking the same general slope as the rays of light which cause the shadow. This method is frequently employed when the sketch is made at small scale. If a drawing is of such a size or character as to demand much detail, however, a still different method is popular. In place of the mass shading of the first and the parallel strokes of the second, the lines run in the direction or directions which best suggest the bricks or the clapboards or whatever the materials in shadow may be. Sketches "3," "5" and "6" illustrate this third method and it is not difficult to tell, even by the shadow tone, which sketch represents brick, which one stone, and which shingle. In using this method the student must be careful not to get too "spotty" a character to the value for it is essential to preserve a restful breadth of effect throughout the tone.

We should not leave the subject of cornices without some reference to reflected light and reversed shadows. It is frequently the case that bright light is reflected from some brilliant object into dark tones such as those beneath a cornice. This not only means that the shadow value itself is neutralized and so made lighter, but a reflection of this sort is often the cause, also, of what are termed "reversed shadows," which really are shadows within a shadow, caused by modillions or any such projections which prevent the reflected light from penetrating some of the deeper corners. These reversed shadows are of especial value in rendering elevations in wash such as that shown on page 134. In this sort of drawing where the shadows are cast in the conventional 45-degree method, the reversed tones are usually reflected in just the opposite way, as is the case in the rendering to which we have just referred. (Note particularly the reversed shadows cast by the dentils.) In nature, however, the location and the form of the reversed shadows will of course depend on the direction of the rays of reflected light, and this direction may vary from hour to hour as the sun or other source of direct illumination changes in position. So far as cornices are concerned, however, it is true that reflected light often causes the soffit to appear quite brilliant, so in many drawings the soffit value is represented no darker than in Sketch "5." Figure 33. and in tiny drawings such horizontal planes as this are sometimes left actually white.