Natural Light vs Artificial Light

Lighting plays a huge role for artists and can dramatically effect the mood of an artwork.

This video explains the differences between artificial light and natural light in illustrations, paintings, comics, films, animation and more.

45 min. video

Examples in art show how natural lighting and artificial lighting create different visual affects, and how that can impact the story or mood of an artwork.

Discussion led by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

Clara Lieu

Video Walkthrough

  • Natural light is sometimes soft and subtle, but it can also have high contrast.
  • Artificial light can be high contrast, but it can also be soft and subtle.
  • Natural light, outdoors, day time.
  • Natural light, outdoors, sunset.
  • Natural light, outdoors, night.
  • Natural light, underwater.
  • Natural light, indoors, from a window.
  • Artificial light, outdoors.
  • Artificial light, outdoors, night.
  • Artificial light, indoors.
  • Artificial light, theatrical context.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

Clara cartoon

Half of the process is SEEING the nuances of color, the light, the shadow, if you can’t see it, you can’t draw it!

Bread Fairy Drawing, Clara Lieu

When I’m out for a walk, I’ll stop and notice a specific cast shadow, a complementary color set that is in nature, that all feeds into your experience as an artist.

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