children's books, illustration
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Shadows in illustrations.

drinking glass with fruit ice straw and shadow on sill

Whether they create an illusion, a sense of mystery, movement or anchor a subject firmly in place, shadows can be a useful device for an illustrator – just as they are for a painter or photographer. In this post I’ve included a series of photos and illustrations highlighting different aspects of shadow play and visual communication.

Looking at the glass in the photograph above we can see it’s empty – apart from a few pieces of colourful fruit, ice and a straw. Yet it’s shadow presents an image of a glass that is full – with its watery diamond pattern there on the window sill – a suggestive liquid reflection from its base to rim. Here the shadow offers an alternative view of reality.

In the photograph below – shadows place the reader within the landscape. They exaggerate perspective and lead the eye out to sea.

Ocean view rock pools and shadows of two photographers

Shadows place the reader in the landscape

In the next photograph, shadows created by the ripples and radiating water rings give the viewer a sense of movement – both of the water and of the bird.

Spoonbill feeding in shallows|shadows of radiating water rings

Spoonbill feeding – shadows here convey movement of water

sand crab and it's shadow

This sand crab is visually anchored to the sand by its shadow.

Foreground shadows below, frame each view and lead the eye into the distance beyond.

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Finally, shadows in the illustrations below are an invitation for imagination. First cast by trees on the horizon…

illustration looking out through open door across shadowed lawn towards distant tree shapes and shed

Illustration ©Annmarie Scott

…then closer – at the bedroom door and outside the window.

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Shadows in these illustrations partially mask subjects or the character lending an air of mystery. They draw the eye of the reader – inviting a closer look.

Can you see the bunyips in these shadows?

The three illustrations photographed above are from The Bunyip and the Night written by Mark Svendsen


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