Cubes are great objects for practicing shading, and shading is a helpful way to practice effectively using the Copic Color System. So, grab your set of Copic markers and color along with us.
The first thing to keep in mind is that, when it comes to compositions, light travels in a straight line; any object blocking the light will block it in a straight line. The side of a cube that’s closest to the light will be the brightest. In this case, we’ve colored the front side lighter than the top, showing that the light is strongest from the front. The third visible side is in shadow, so it’s the darkest of the three.
In the example, we used Earth Tones E30 Sketch Bisque, E31 Sketch Brick Beige, and E34 Sketch Toast to shade the cube. But you can choose a different color set; just make sure all three colors are from the same color family and have the same saturation number. Make the brightest side (where the light strikes the cube most strongly) your lowest brightness number and the side in shadow your highest. Now you can see how, with a basic knowledge of the Copic Color System, you can quickly grab three markers and be confident that they’ll work well together.
Next, let’s pick some gray tones for the shadow. In the the example, we chose Neutral Gray No. 1 (N1) and Neutral Gray No. 3 (N3) to get a nice gradient from dark near the base to a more diffused shadow toward the tip. Once you’ve picked you gray tone, think about the shadow that the box casts on the ground; the object will cast a shadow shaped like itself.
Tip: Opaque White. In real life, the cube shape would not have black lines defining the edges, so it’s very important to add a strong highlight along the edges. The edges closest to the front will catch the most light. Add highlights with Opaque White, or a white colored pencil along the front edge to create this effect.
Now that you’ve shaded your own cube, go through the process again with a different combination of colors. It’s a simple exercise, but it can help you get a good feel for choosing and using the right colors for a composition.