3D Drawing, 3D Graphics or Photos
This tutorial is equally applicable to any 3D drawing or other imagery.
First, read our short 3D tutorial which lays out a few simple but critical basics to understanding what follows.
In this lesson we will explore several additional depth cues.
With greater distance, forms are seen from fewer directions. This is another example of having less of something with more distance. For example, seeing a man's face at about the same angle as his feet can be a depth cue that he must be far away. (below) But, if we are looking straight at his face and down at his feet in our 3D drawing, these different viewing angles would indicate that he is close.
So comparing different viewing angles can help determine the distances of things. Depth perception comes from detectable differences in direction. This could be called "direction perception."
The more directions we have to see with in our 3D drawing, the more angles we can see things from. For example, cover all of the cubes below, then uncover one at a time. This drawing gets more 3D in the process because that gives us more different angles of these objects to compare against.
If looking through just one dimension, even if that is depth, nothing can look 3D. (below) As strange as it sounds, we can see no depth when all we see is depth.
Light and Shadow
A 3D drawing can be effectively accomplished through light and shadow.
There are two basic types of shadow. The first is that which projects onto something by the blocking of light. (right) Here, depth is enhanced because the shadow is often overlapped by the object while it also appears smaller as it gets farther from that object.
For a shadow to exist, there must be some distance between an object and the surface it falls upon. Even though an object does not have to overlap its shadow, the fact that they are separated clearly demonstrates space. The farther a shadow seems to be, the more depth there appears to be.
The second type of shadow is referred to as shade. As the surface of an object turns away from the light source it will no longer receive any light shining toward it. (left) As shown, this can be a very smooth transition as the surface gradually turns away from the light or can be quite sharp due to the sharp-edged nature of the object.
The introduction of light and dark to an object through shade in one's 3D drawing is called shading or modeling. Highlights and dark areas enhance this 3D effect. Increasing contrast can heighten this even further.
Also, a 3D appearance for your drawing or photo can be gained by lighting an object's height, width and depth differently. Conversely, since a camera flash lights only one side of every object, this tends to flatten the image.
Our next lesson covers more on depth cues.