DON'T DRAW A SUN! Try This Instead...

Updated: Jul 11, 2020

We’ve all seen it, and we’ve all done it. What am I referring to? I’m referring to adding the sun in our artwork. In this video, I quickly touch upon this subject and show you ways to instantly improve your artwork by using the sun as your inspiration as opposed to your subject. This video is for new artists of any age who want to improve their artwork, haven’t been taught or shown how to create art with more depth, and have little time in their schedule for a full class. If this is you, stick around.


The Atmosphere:

The Earth spins on its axis. During its rotation, there are times when the sun will shine on parts of the Earth, and times when it won't. This is daytime and nighttime. Pretty simple, right? Alright, so between the earth and sun, we have the atmosphere. The atmosphere is made up of lots of different gases and provides the oxygen we breathe, a comfortable temperature for us to survive in, the weather- including clouds, and it also acts as a protective barrier from the sun's heat and radiation. Without it, we couldn't survive.

Throughout the course of a day, the sun will shine through the atmosphere a lot stronger and brighter than other times of the day. For instance, right around noon is when the sun’s intensity will be the strongest. This is because the sun is directly above us and has less atmosphere to shine through. Yet, when the sun rises or sets, the sun will shine through more atmosphere causing the light rays to scatter through the particles of the atmosphere resulting in the beautiful colors during our sunrises and sunsets.

If you draw your sun in the corner of the artwork keep in mind how close the sun is to the horizon. In this case, the sun would be shining through more atmosphere meaning you will have to make the sky appear as such. Most of the time you will not have to add the sun at all to your artwork because of how high in the sky it is. Instead, you will be thinking about the effects of the sun, such as shadows. When the sun is high, your shadows are short and more intense. Whereas in the morning and evening, your shadows will be longer and less intense.

If you don’t know where to put your shadows, think of the sun as having arrows on the ends of the sun rays, and it will point the direction for your shadows to go. The atmosphere plays a visual trick of the eye. For instance, as things go out into the distance, they appear to fade away or lighter in intensity. You can use this trick in your own art by lightening anything in the distance.

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Seasons: In one year, our earth makes a full revolution around the sun. During that time, light is experienced differently depending on the angle of the sun’s rays relative to your position on the globe. In a way, when we experience summer and winter, the sun can be compared to the angles of the sun at noon, as well as the angle of the sun during sunrise and sunset.

For instance, In the months when the sun is high and the light is more direct, this is when we experience summer which gives us more heat, longer days, and more light intensity of the sun. When the sun is at a lower angle in the sky, light spreads out over a larger area and gently illuminates our surface. This is when we experience winter, which gives us colder temperatures, shorter days, and less light intensity of the sun.

In some locations, like Svalbard, Norway the sun doesn’t set at all during their summers, and the sun doesn’t rise at all during their winters. Summer looks different to people around the world depending on their location and climate. Some people have wet summers where they will experience vibrant colors and lush foliage around them. Whereas other locations may be dry, and the heat of the sun is so harsh that the sun will bleach the colors around them. When creating an art piece about summer, instead of adding a sun to your artwork, use these colors on the color wheel often. These colors are called warm colors and they can emulate the feeling of warm temperatures. Pair this with strong highlights and shadows, due to the intensity of the sunlight, and your pieces will look far more advanced.

What are summer’s like where you are from? Tell us in the comments below.

Winter looks different to people around the world depending on their location and climate. Some people have wet winters with extremely cold temperatures and experience lots of ice and snow. Other locations have mild winters and will experience comfortable temperatures and in some locations like deserts, a new blooming of plants. When creating an art piece about winter, instead of adding a sun, use these colors on the color wheel often. These colors are called cool colors and they can emulate the feeling of cooler temperatures. Pair this with weak highlights and shadows, more monochromatic due to the lack of intensity of the sunlight and your pieces will look far more advanced.

The colors of light are probably something that you actually think about quite often. Here is an example. How many times have you added a filter to your photographs on social media? Perhaps you took a selfie in the bathroom and the lighting is too harsh. You may add a filter on top of the photo to give the illusion that perhaps you are somewhere else, maybe on a warm beach in Hawaii, or perhaps you just want to change the feel of the photo. Think about this when you are determining the importance of lighting and color in your art pieces.

Basically what we want to do when creating art, is give many clues to the viewer with our lighting and color temperature to tell a story for us that will add to the overall experience of our art pieces. You see in fine art we have to think about every aspect of our one image in order to craft the message or feeling with our artwork. So before you simply add the sun in the background of your artwork, think about what other elements you can add to your artwork to truly craft a unique masterpiece.

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