Help rendering a radiused edge.

Can anyone give me feedback on my rendering? It’s for a class and I had a hard time visualizing how this edge should look if the material is a lacquered shiny metal. I used marker for the sides (one midtone and one darker tone olive) and left the radiused edge white, so that I could then add colored pencil/pastel. I wasn’t sure if that was the right technique to give that illusion of gloss, because right now, it appears as if the material is a matte finish.

What could I have done differently? I tried looking in my “Sketchin” Koos Eissen book and even Dick Powell’s book for examples of how to render a radiused edge on a shiny product and I got lost. I even looked at photos online of cars with rounded edges but it still didn’t help. Feel free to alter it in Photoshop or provide examples of products with rounded corners if you can find any that would help clarify the basic principles. I’d so appreciate any help. I got really frustrated with this rendering.

Thanks guys


You’ve got a few things going on here, but this image might help you. You see the accent on the “edges” where the front fender and hood combine? See how quickly the color fades to the white highlight? Think about where you can implement that on your rendering, keeping in mind where your light source is coming from.

Notice in that example how the lightest lights are next to the darkest darks.

Thanks guys for the feedback. So basically, in my radiused edge, it should have been left white to give the impression that the material is shiny? It would look like a narrow streak of subtle white lightlight going up the edge (but not as wide as the size of the radius, right??

I have seen this one technique, I think, in Dick Powell’s book where he leaves the radius white and puts a bit of pastel over it and then erases the area subtly to create a highlight. Would that have been effective in giving the material the illusion of gloss?

Take a look at something like this:

To get an idea of what a pure radiused edge looks like. As mentioned you generally get pure white right next to the darkest shade of your color.

A few other notes: Keep your light source in mind when putting in your shadow. Your highlight indicates the light source would be behind the viewer (otherwise your brightest highlight should be on the top edge of your washer near the latch) but your shadow looks like the light source is coming from behind. Makes it visually confusing.

It also looks like you overworked the marker to try and get it very saturated. With markers, generally less is more. You want to give the user an understanding of the form without coloring in the image very heavily. Keep in mind the direction and stroke of your marker and how that effects the perception of form.

And spend some time on theres a bunch of good tutorials on there that should help you out.

Wow, I am getting some awesome feedback! Thanks guys! I love this site! :slight_smile:

It pays to get other sets of eyes to see things that I can’t. I do see now that my shadow direction and the area of the highlight don’t match up! Wow, just from your feedback alone, I have been able to get a feel for how highlights should occur, and where! In the case of my washer (using that same shadow direction), the highlight would be at the radiused edge near the latch, as Cyberdemon point out, right? Makes total sense! Sorry but I am filled with a lot of excitement as I didn’t think I’d actually “get it”, this whole business of highlights and shadows. :stuck_out_tongue: Yeeeeah!

Just to make sure that I am understanding the principles… in the case of the car example, the highlights on the fenders are there because the light source is above the car, casting the shadow on the floor below it, so hence the highlights would be on areas facing up??

In the case of my “washing machine”, if we were using that highlight (as is), the shadow direction would be more towards the back of the machine (one wouldn’t see much of it), not to the side, as I have it portrayed now, right?

Also, would the highlight be that broad or narrower? Would it be sharp or more fuzzy, or does it depend on the material I am trying to convey? Thanks to all who have helped thus far! You guys are awesome!

On the car - yes, the light is most likely coming from the top so the areas of the surface that point up will be reflecting the most light.

The shadow you are correct, if the light source was right behind your “camera”, imagine it as a flash - the light would be behind the product and not entirely visible.

The highlight size really depends on the radius you are trying to portray. If you look at the game cube you see it’s a very very tight radius, so a very small highlight.

The sharpness or fuzziness has more to do with material. An object like plastic will diffuse more light and give a typically softer/less intense highlight compared to something like metal which would give a very sharp very bright highlight.

Look for some of Scott Roberstons DVD on rendering Matte surfaces (or all of them since they’re all extremely useful) - very helpful in understanding the fundamental principles.

Also look for some tutorials on reflections. You can usually draw a 2d cross section of your design and understand where your highlight/shadow would begin and end based on your light location.


Thanks for answering my concerns. In response to why I saturated the paper with marker; it’s because I was trying to render something “semi-realistic”, in the traditional rendering sense versus what you’d see on The professor is teaching for the first half of the class, old school ways of rendering and not just an exploratory sketch with color. We will then be doing professional renderings later on this semester with a Wacom and Alias, but he just felt that it would be good to teach us how to render with markers in the “old school” method. By the way, I also have pastel over my marker to blend in my marker strokes, hence why it looks so saturated.

I could be wrong, but if you were presenting a “rendering” and not just a markered preliminary sketch to a client, you wouldn’t present one of those types of sketches (ala ID sketching) to a client, would you? Just curious. Keep in mind, I am a student and not a working professional in the ID world, so I am just asking what the differences are between those two types of “rendering” styles and if it depends on the occasion or who it’s for. Maybe I have been inspired TOO MUCH by Dick Powell’s rendering styles… no wonder my “washing machine” looks so 70’s. It doesn’t help that I chose Avocado as a color. hehe. My mother used to have Avocado everything in her kitchen back then!

By the way, I have all of Scott’s videos in that “Matte rendering” series, and they were very helpful, but maybe I will have to rewatch it again. I just remembered that he does cover radiused edges in it. Good thinking, CyberDemon.

I wouldn’t present a marker rendering to a client period. It’s a great method for communicating quickly, but for presentation quality work photoshop or sketchbook pro is 1000X faster, more efficient, and more professional looking, even for a sketch. With marker renderings - you are spending most of your time controlling bleed, stroke, etc, and one mess up and you’re stuck with it. Even on my traditional renderings that I did in college, I used marker only for my areas of heavy saturation. Most of the rest of it would have been done with pastel for smooth gradations or prismacolor.

There is still value IMO in learning how to do old school rendering, because those skills help you as a designer understand the form/shading, which will translate to what you can do digitally. But the actual digital tools/workflow just wind up saving a lot of time and adding a lot more quality. If you look at a lot of auto renderings youll see they usually have a few strokes of marker, then all the airbrush and detailing is done digitally to safe time.

I show hand drawings a lot to clients. On the Icon project we did 50+ fully rendered photoshop/illustrator front ends. In a bout of frustration I hammered out a hand sketched 3/4 of the front end, blew a little marker and pastel over the top, and emailed it over… got the go ahead within 10 minutes on that hand sketch, vs 3 months of illustrator/photoshop.


I was just re-reading your response to me a while back about how I saturate the paper too much when laying down marker in my previous renderings and you advised me to look at some of the work on I am sorry for bringing this up again, but I just wanted you to address two concerns:

  1. Spencer Nugent’s marker technique on idsketching is very rough and casual; in other words, not the kind of style one would recommend for a professional rendering, right? In a professional rendering, one would aim for semi-realism, right? And would those also be considered “renderings” or just plain “marker sketches”. I am confused about the ID terminology.

  2. I was wondering why Spencer lays down his marker strokes in a diagonal fashion and leaves white space? Is the white space to convey that it’s a glossy or reflective material? I wonder if the same would be used if it were a matte surface?

I have included a few images of Spencer’s work. I hope this is not copyright infringement, as I am merely using them as examples.

Thanks Cyberdemon.

1 - Question 1 is really up to you and your client. Every project has a different scope. If a client is expecting shiny 3D renderings, then a detailed marker drawing isn’t really going to cut it either. Likewise to Yo’s point - sometimes even a simple marker sketch (similar but maybe a little more detailed then Spencers ideation sketches) is appropriate. It isn’t just about the color - it’s about line weight/quality/details, etc.

My comments earlier about “renderings” are to show theres different levels of fidelity for renderings. You are working on what IMO is the “old school” style of rendering. Very detailed, fully colored, typically trys to really detail out materials, etc.

To me - this is less valuable these days. The reason is you spend a lot of time (hours) on marking up this drawing and any errors you make (marker bleed, etc) wind up in the final drawing. In my workflow it would make more sense to take a sketch you did on paper, bring it into photoshop and quickly add your colors/shading digitally.

Something like this (also from Spencers work)

It’s much easier to control and generally looks more polished, but still maintains the emotion and looseness of a hand sketch. This is in contrast to what YO was talking about which are completely digitally constructed renderings done in Photoshop or Illustrator (all vector artwork, very crisp, etc). This is also a completely realistic and common deliverable in the ID world (probably moreso than marker/hand sketches).

Ultimately its what your client expects. We have consultants deliver us everything from loose hand sketches for concept work to detailed 3D depending on the need/deliverable - it’s just making sure they understand what they are getting before hand.

2)The diagonal strokes/white areas are a way of just giving a highlight and some surface direction I think.


Thanks for the clarifications. I was a bit confused as to the differences in style of rendering. I initially thought that Spencer’s sketches were more like “ideation sketches” with a bit of color thrown in. But now I see that there are different ways of going about the process.

I do like his style a lot. I figured Spencer’s strokes were indicative of glossy surfaces but wanted to make sure. And yes, our professor is very old school, but as you said to me before, it’s nice to start out like this, with the pastels, marker and colored pencil to get a feel for the the basic principles . The only downside is that I feel my new Copic markers probably won’t last the whole semester with all the large renderings we are doing for our class!! But it’s been fun. I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I started out doing my renderings digitally my first few semesters and I had a hard time figuring out the highlights, shadows and shading principles because I had avoided markers and shunned “old school” techniques. I think it’s paying off now going back to basics.

Thanks Cyberdemon.

that’s it