Drawing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

Taking light into dark places


When choosing a setting for a story, do not be afraid to head into dark places like caves, basements or even just the night!  Not only do these places add well to a sense of mystery and exploration, but when it comes to drawing and painting, you can have a lot of fun with these settings!

If an area is completely devoid of light, you won’t be able to see anything. Your eyes can get used to seeing a little at night under the open sky because there are often faint light sources, for instance, the moon.  A light source is always necessary to see any details.  Otherwise, it’s pitch black!

In a story with cartooned-style art, you can have fun with showing just eyes in the dark, as I drew above.

But what happens if we bring a little more light into the scene?


Suddenly, we can see our character’s face—but not much more than this because the only light source is a matchstick and its light doesn’t travel very far.  Our character is still mostly surrounded by darkness.  This makes for an exciting scenario, though.  What is still hidden within the darkness?

Now, if we add more light to the scene, say with a well-fueled fire, we can suddenly see a whole lot more.  A treasure chest, scattered bones and some cave drawings suddenly appear!


At this level of light, you can also have fun with how shadows are cast behind objects.  When there is only one strong light source (in this illustration, the fire), there are going to be long, dark shadows.  Just look behind the chest.

Also, objects and spaces that are closest to the light are also going to be the brightest.  For instance, the ground near the campfire is very well-lit. The further you go from the light, the darker it gets.

Some other fun light sources you can try are flashlights, torches, candles, moonlight and starlight!  Have fun in the dark and play with how you can use small amounts of light to make an illustration more interesting!

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The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories