Book Review: Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design

Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design

This is a useful book authored by Richard Yot to help artists understand light.

It's 176 pages and is pretty comprehensive. The chapters are split into three categories. The first looks at the basic lighting fundamentals, which are the basic principles of light and shadows, their qualities, colours and how we perceive surfaces. The second looks at lighting with people and environment. The last looks at specific uses of lighting for staging and composition, setting mood and giving the illusion of time and place.

The text is clear and detailed. There are lots of photos, 3D computer generated images, a few drawn art, and some film stills in later chapters.

It's interesting to read about things we see daily and don't really think about why they look that way. Examples like why some wet surfaces are darker, how the colour of the sky changes throughout the day, finding the true colour of shadows.

It's not a tutorial book so you won't learn any techniques. It's a theory book that highlights those principles so that you can make use of them to create more realistic and believable work. The principles can be easily applied to other medium.

This is not the only book around on light. If you're more of a traditional artist, I recommend checking out James Gurney's Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter. Many of the topics are similar bot James Gurney's book added colour schemes and other subjects more useful to artists.

If you're into digital lighting, check out Jeremy Birn's Digital Lighting and Rendering (Amazon: US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP | Book Depository). I no longer have this book so I can't remember anything much except that it's also a very good book. Not sure about similar topics.

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Light for Visual Artists: Understanding & Using Light in Art & Design is available on Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP | CN) and Book Depository

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13 Comments

Thanks, that's what I wanted

Thanks, that's what I wanted to know. I possessed Gurney's book since the moment it came out and had pre-ordered months in advance, so I had it even before Amazon.de assumed it to release officially. ;)

Gurney wants you to work with oils, of course, which is impossible for me considering my living space. Well, at least I've got acrylics now that need a lot longer to dry... time to "get dirty". :D

Hey parka, Can you recommend

Hey parka,

Can you recommend any light and color books that focus more on the artistic side? I have Gurneys book, which is really great, but it only covers mood for a few pages, and from the video so does this one. Im looking for a good one that really goes into detail about that side of lighting.

Thanks!

Most tutorial books will

Most tutorial books will always explain HOW to do things. As they should.
This book teaches you WHY you do those things. Hope this helps you comprehend where its really at. This is a book you read end to end, not an application manual.

Hey Parka! Thanks for your

Hey Parka! Thanks for your blog, it´s one of a kind in the whole internet! Anyway, i work with CG and i already have Gurney´s book and the Digital Lighting and Rendering, do you think that this book can add any other usefull information to me?

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