Leaning? Not leaning? You decide.

Sketched at  my lifedrawing session this morning. The model was definitely leaning one way: her head rested in her hand and she leaned in that direction. Which is what I thought I was capturing. But when I was done, she just didn’t seem to lean enough.


Part of the problem is that other arm, straight down the middle of the composition: It tricks you into ‘untilting’ whatever subtle tilt I drew in… But maybe there’s more?

Someone suggested I look at my sketch in a mirror to see if I could find what was bothering me. I did, and while it didn’t fix my leaning problem, a whole bunch of new things came up. I’ve flipped the image in photoshop( below) to approximate what I saw. On the left: my original. On the right: the flipped image. I could swear the one on right has more depth in the dark areas, and more vibrant orange-reds in the skintone. Even a slightly different angle to the head.

Do the two images above look exactly the same to you? If you see differences, what ARE they? And if you understand why this happens, I’d love to know!

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in people, Portrait and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Leaning? Not leaning? You decide.

  1. MaxTracks says:

    First, let me state that I admire your work and appreciate your generous contributions to helping so many of us learn to sketch, draw and paint :o). As an avid amateur photographer for over 45 years I have been a keen observer of light. I think what you are seeing in the flipped image is a trick if light and composition (IMHO). In N America we are accustomed to reading works on paper from left to right. In the flipped image, the light is coming from the top left and reads well. As the eye continues to scan from top left to bottom right it “lingers” just a bit longer in the flipped image because of the combined effects of the gesture line from the model’s head, to hand, to arm, to raised knee (a backstop) AND therefore the darkest shadows seem darker. Because the eye is travelling diagonally (top left to bottom right) for the above reason, in the flipped image, the brain is also fooled into thinking the head is on more of a tilt? What do you think?


    • Thank you, MaxTracks, that’s a really good observation: it is easier to enter into and move around the image on the right… makes me wonder if it would have been even more interesting to NOT separate that lit shoulder form the background: to create a lost edge to let the viewer in. I’m going to share your explanation on my facebook page, thanks so much!


  2. Leon says:

    I think nothing is wrong. many times in a day we watched ourselves in the mirror and it’s ok. but the shadows on the right side picture looks quite strange for my opinion. anyway thank you for sharing and interesting question.
    p.s. I hope you understand my English.


  3. interesting way to see it!
    nice drawing, I like the colors


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