Illustrating Different Methods of Indicating the Same Subject.

Figure 21. Illustrating Different Methods of Indicating the Same Subject.

The Upper Sketch Shows an Effect Mainly Gained by the Use of Values.

Figure 22. The Upper Sketch Shows an Effect Mainly Gained by the Use of Values Representing the Tone of Various Building Materials and Accessories. In the Lower Sketch the Effect Depends More on the Indication of Shade and Shadow.

Do not for a moment think that it is our intention to condemn the practice of casting shadows on elevations in the conventional 45-degree manner, for that is not the case, as even the student of freehand drawing can gain considerable knowledge useful in sketching through a course in shades and shadows. What we do wish to make clear is that the draftsman or designer who studies light and shade directly from nature does not allow himself to be handicapped by the man-made rules governing shades and shadows, but supplements these with his knowledge of nature's own laws, and so applies them all with far greater intelligence. We are told, for example, when studying the architectural subject of shades and shadows, that those surfaces in a building which are turned most directly towards the source of light will usually appear, all other things being equal, the brightest. From this one might judge that a shingled roof receiving direct rays of light from the sun would appear very bright, and in fact it often does. Not infrequently, however, such a roof seems very dark under these conditions, even though the wood of the shingles be light in color, this appearance being largely due to the fact that the horizontal lines of the butts of the shingles, which are so turned as to receive little light and are also, because of the nature of their grain, often dark, show so black and are so conspicuous as to deepen and darken the effect of the otherwise light tone. The rule is worth remembering, however, in spite of such exceptions, as is also the rule that the darkest, sharpest shadows are cast by the edges of the surfaces receiving the most direct light. It naturally follows that surfaces so turned as to receive the light rays in a slantwise direction will be less bright than those receiving the direct rays. It is true, too, that a shiny surface generally appears brighter than a dull surface of the same actual value and sometimes even a black shiny surface will reflect some light tone and so appear practically white. There are exceptions to this for a shiny, light surface may reflect some very dark tone and thus appear nearly black, and likewise a smooth gray surface may appear either lighter or darker than it really is. In other words glossy surfaces change in appearance with changes of light to a much greater extent than dull surfaces. Even light, dull surfaces, however, often throw much brilliancy onto other objects and white concrete walks or terraces or driveways sometimes reflect enough light upon adjacent buildings to materially affect their appearance, as such lights soften the shadow tone or even cast shadows themselves.

Illustrating Different Value Schemes for the Same Subject.

Figure 23. Illustrating Different Value Schemes for the Same Subject.

While we might go on with such general hints as these it is hardly worth while, for it is only by observing nature at first hand that the student can gain much knowledge of real value. One excellent way of studying constantly changing effects of light on a building is by making a series of snapshots from some one fixed point at intervals during a clear day and comparing them with care. Such photographs reveal much of interest and value to the observing student, especially if the building chosen be rather small. It might be well to make sketches from these photographs as this would help to fix the ideas in the mind, or, if the student has sufficient ability or training to sketch rapidly directly from the building he can possibly learn more by making a series of sketches instead of the snapshots.

We have spoken of the fact that it is sometimes possible to make an effective drawing by the use of shadows only and sometimes by suggesting the building materials alone, but it is more often necessary to represent both the material and the shadows in order to obtain a satisfactory drawing. It is not always easy, though, to decide just how much of each should be shown, especially when working from the imagination as the architect is often called upon to do. This can, perhaps, best be determined by making several rough studies on tracing paper directly over the outline drawing or by making two or three small sketches similar to those shown in Figure 23. These eight sketches illustrate the fact that it is often possible to get many fairly satisfactory compositions of the same subject, but there are usually one or two which arc better than the others, and one of these should be selected as a guide for the final larger renderings. It is suggested that the student make several similar small sketches of some object from memory or the imagination as practice in composition, and it is well to remember too, that in making drawings from the photograph it is often helpful to try similar studies on tracing paper directly over the photograph, to determine how much to omit and how best to compose that which it seems essential to show.

It may be well to repeat here that the only way to learn to draw is by constant practice. Reading a dozen books on drawing might give the student many ideas, but unless such suggestions are carried out they are useless. If you lack the inspiration to draw by yourself, it would be well to join some sketching class or engage a critic to help you with your work.