The problem with artificial lighting and colored pencils

Published by Joanna Vu on

Story of my life: I start working on a new drawing at night, only to find out that next morning everything looks different! Have you ever experienced something similar? Welcome to the club!

The problem is that artificial lighting can never be equal to natural lighting. Since colors are actually a brain interpretation of the reflected light, lighting plays a significant role of what our eyes perceive as “color”. As a result, when I draw on my kitchen table at night, I “create” colors that look different under daylight. Since I am a realism artist, it can be a huge issue. But worry not fellow artists, I did the research for you! You can do a couple of things to minimize the problem. (And I need to start following my own advice! XD)

Captain Marvel on the left was created under artificial light and Captain Marvel on the right was created under natural light. The one on the left has more orange/red tones, although when I was drawing them I thought they looked the same
  1. Ideally it would be best if you could work under the same conditions all the time. Draw only under natural lighting, or artificial lighting. If that’s not possible, however…
  2. Be consistent. Choose a color palette and stick to it. At least this way your work will be uniform, no crazy patches of color.
  3. Buy a blue lamp. Blue light can look totally crazy at night, but it is closer to natural lighting, so no big surprises next morning.
  4. Practice! The more you practice the more you can “imagine” how colors WILL LOOK in the morning. A bad piece of advice but still if you can’t do anything else… stick to it!

How do you deal with the problem guys? Has the transition between natural/artificial light ever bothered you?


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