To capture 3D forms on a 2D surface, we use light and shadows to create the illusion of depth. This can be tricky, but never fear! We are here to help.
4 Tips on Twists, Rolls, and Folds
1. Practice with simple models.
Find out how much fun it can be to create a convincing illusion. Start with simple models to build your understanding of how light falls on the form. Once you fully grasp how to capture the light on the simple model, you have the foundation upon which to build your twisting, rolling, folding, curling botanical portraits.
Grab a ziplock bag*, and cut out clear plastic models of leaves. Use 3 different colored markers (permanent, ex. sharpies) to draw the left margin one color (ex. blue), the right margin another color (ex. green), and the center vein a third color (ex. red).
*Paper or other materials can work also, but it’s best if the material is transparent so you can see exactly what’s in front of you.
This is a great way to visualize what’s happening when drawing parts of the leaf that “disappear” behind the parts that are in front.
2. Curls = Cylinders
When toning, it’s easiest to think of most curls as simple cylinders.
Practice with an empty paper towel* roll. Using our usual consistent light source (45 degrees from the upper left), notice what happens to light and shadow when you change the cylinder’s position and angle. (Click here for free light source tips.)
*Any cylinder-shaped object will work, but with a paper towel or toilet paper roll, you can see how light falls on the whole cylinder and then unravel the roll to see the differences on the curl.
3. Avoid this common mistake.
Avoid the common mistake of drawing the tangent line of a fold as a curved line. This line is generally straight or roughly v shaped, depending on how flat your leaf is.
4. Don’t forget edges!
TIP: Leaving the front edge of a leaf or petal a lighter value can help to show its thickness.
Thanks for reading!