Light Source Basics: Part 4, Visualizing Cast Shadows


On this edition of Light Source basics I’m going to start talking about Cast Shadows in your coloring and how to visualize their placement.

Cast shadows are created by the interruption of light by another object. So for this tutorial I’m not talking about shading or how part of an object is in shadow because it faces away from the light source but an actual shadow being create by an object. 

This will probably stretch on over a couple posts but to get started let’s give you a good way to visualize the direction of the light and, consequently, the shadow.


This is a coloring I did of the digi stamp Sway Mae. I placed her on a clock face because we can all visualize direction easily in those terms 🙂 In this case the light is coming from above but at the 4:30 direction. (I know that typically “your 6” means behind you but I’m keeping the 12 at the top for easy reference). With that in mind, if the light is coming from 4:30, the shadows are falling at the 10:30 direction. You can just visualize that the “hands” of the clock have become 1 big “hand” always facing opposites. 

See what I mean? If we have the light coming from 2 o’clock, then the shadows would be cast in the 8 o’clock direction. 

Where the light is shining from plays a definite roll, above, in the middle or at the bottom, but direction is still the same. Take a look at it this way…


The solid line is straight up from 4:30 with the dotted line to 10:30. I made the solid line as tall as her and visualizing the Linear Light rays we spoke of before you can see the angle of the light a bit better. Obviously its all variable *but* talking basics, this gives you a great starting point when laying down you Light Guide and shoot for accuracy.


Next time we’ll delve more into Cast Shadows but for now I hope you like this “Clock Method” when visualizing where you should place your shadows and even your shading.


  • Shazza says:

    liking that clock idea x

  • Lenny says:

    Oh …. love this!! So very helpful with the clock image and lines!! HELPFUL!!
    Thanks for sharing!! 

  • Thursday Links to Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways #zentangle #Giveaways #ArtJournal | lifeimitatesdoodles says:

    […] Light Source Basics: Part 4, Visualizing Cast Shadows […]

  • Thomas Marino says:

    Thank you for the article.  I look forward to the next one.

  • Colleen says:

    Your articles are great! Found them on pinterest. Thanks so much for taking the time to share! 🙂

  • ceciliareyes says:

    What a wonderful idea of putting the clock. I totally see it!

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