Life-size, fully modelled and shaded representation of a small clay figurine head from South Abydos

Sep 29, 2020

When creating shaded "lifelike" representations of ancient Egyptian artifacts, such was the case with this miniature clay model head found in South Abydos, there is a certain procedure to follow, either indicated by traditional pencil or captured digitally. ⠀ ⠀

1. - Before starting a drawing, one must set up a light source pointing at the object from the left (it is also advisable to turn off all the other lights to increase contrast and clarify each shadow). The importance of homogeneous, controllable lighting can't be emphasized enough when drawing indoors as, without strong directional light, you won’t be able to see the shadows and highlights and your drawing will most likely turn out gray and visually flat.⠀ ⠀

2. - The main prerequisite in undertaking archaeological illustrations is to understand what is being drawn. Therefore, first, the best angles and views of the representation must be carefully determined in order to display the optimal amount of visual data. With small objects, the standard procedure is to present full-frontal, side, and back views, accompanied by top/bottom sections if necessary.⠀ ⠀

3. - Always draft the object outlines and the main features first, to “anchor” the drawing in place. Make distinguishable marks along the features to give yourself distinct measuring points as you add more details. Measuring relative distances between features is necessary for the precise rendering of the artifact when translating three-dimensional data to a two-dimensional drawing. Controlling angles and inspecting perspective lines is easiest by holding up one's pencil and moving one's hand (while keeping the pencil at the same angle) in front of the paper to get reassurrance that the angles line up.⠀ ⠀

To be continued...⠀

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