Basics of Shading: Concepts and Practice | Jennifer Hounsell | Skillshare

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Basics of Shading: Concepts and Practice

teacher avatar Jennifer Hounsell, artist, cat enthusiast, student

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

15 Lessons (1h 3m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Warm Up

    • 4. Practice I: Pencil Control and Confidence

    • 5. Practice II: Shading in Layers

    • 6. Locating Light

    • 7. Practice III: Adding Depth (1)

    • 8. Practice III: Adding Depth (2)

    • 9. Class Project I: Thinking it Out

    • 10. Class Project II: Lamp & Wall

    • 11. Class Project III: Books etc.

    • 12. Class Project IV: Picture Frame

    • 13. Class Project V: Vase with Ribbon

    • 14. Class Project VI: Final Vase

    • 15. Class Project VII: Finishing Touches

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About This Class

In this class we will learn some of the most fundamental concepts of using light and shadow to create the illusion of 3-dimensional forms. We’ll start by practicing pressure control and layering. Then, we will talk about light sources and shadows.

There will be a few exercises we’ll practice which will help us understand these concepts. We’ll pull everything together in our final class project layering shapes to get us thinking about the application of light and shadow.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  • Improve confidence and control with a basic drawing tool
  • Create gradients using varied pressure and layering
  • Identify light sources and types of shadows
  • Apply concepts of light and shadow to a final class project

You’ll be able to follow along with each segment as exercises are quick and easy. Worksheets for one exercise as well as the line art for the class project are provided. This class is perfect for beginners, especially if you find a lot of your work ends up looking flat. Plus, the concepts learned in this course are applicable to just about all forms of art, and can be recreated using just about any medium.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jennifer Hounsell

artist, cat enthusiast, student



In no particular order, I am: a woman, a student, a daughter, a spouse, a sister, a teacher, a furmom, a crazy cat lady, possibly actually crazy, crazy creative, crazy busy... Hmm, accidentally started theming there. I am many things, and I like many things! The best things in  my life? 

Definitely the cats.

You can find more of my boys on Instagram: @purrfectionism


I have been involved in many creative activities throughout the majority of my life. In my younger years I focused on traditional graphite works until I fell absolutely smitten with digital paintings. Since then, I've become much more interested in colouring and painting. However, I also self-identify as a hobby addict! I've always tried very ha... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. My name is Jennifer hounds and I've been a creative person for my whole life and I flex my career of muscle using a variety of mediums. I sometimes refer to myself as a hobby addict, but really, I just love to be able to release my creative energies while also trying to learn new things. The fundamental skill I take with me from medium to medium isn't understanding of light and shadow, which is why I chose this as the topic from the very first class basics of shading, concepts and practice. In this class, we will learn how to use light and shadow and drawings to create the illusion of three dimensional forms. We'll start by practising pressure control and layering. Then we will talk about light sources, and shadows will pull everything together in our final class project, where we will had depth to a simple drawing with layered shapes. This class is perfect for beginners, learning to add life and depth to their work. Plus, the concept you'll learn in this course are applicable to a wide range of arts and mediums , including drawing, painting, lettering and photography, just to name a few. I'm very excited to share this class with you, so let's get started 2. Supplies: Let's talk about supplies needed for this class. Don't worry. If you don't have the exact same supplies is I'm using. You can use whatever you have available. First, we need a single pencil. If you have drawing pencils, I would recommend a to B pencil or four B pencil. Avoid mechanical pencils and standard pencils as their core is much harder, so they're not great for shading. In these videos. I'm using a to B pencil. If you don't have any drawing pencils, you can use any colored pencil, but just make sure you only pick one next. We need an eraser here, have a stick, eraser and a soft eraser. I absolutely love stick erasers. They're more comfortable to hold, and they're easy to control. Plus, they're great for touching up small areas. Third, we will need a sharpener. Any sharpener is fine. Fourth, a ruler. I don't actually use a ruler in the videos, but I used it to create some of the exercises, and you might choose to use one later, so make sure you have one handy just in case. Finally, we need paper. I grabbed a small stack of standard printer paper. You'll notice I did not list the blending stump or any other tool to aid with blending. That is because this is a basics class we to understand concepts and practice, accomplishing the tasks with just the basics before we learn how to use extra tools. Now that we have our supplies, it's time to warm up. 3. Warm Up: okay, Before you move on to the rest of the course, I think it would be great for you to take some time to practice shading right now. Before you're given lots of extra information, you can try shadings. Ingredients from light to dark or dark to light, maybe a sphere cube. Whatever suits your fancy when you're done added to your project, the step is really important. For a few reasons. It warms up your hand and your mind to start doing something creative. It allows you to get a sense of where you are in terms of skill and confidence with the pencil, and you can revisit it and compare it with your final project or a later work and see how much of a difference there is in the next video. We're going to talk about how to hold your pencil, so after you're done, you're warm up. Join me there 4. Practice I: Pencil Control and Confidence: in this video, we're going to look at the differences between holding your pencil as if you were writing versus holding it more on its side. Start with a freshly sharpened a pencil and follow alone. Here. I'm just scribbling out a dark swatch than a single line and then a sort of zigzag pattern . I repeat this process on the other side while holding my pencil closer to the paper. I also hold the pencil higher. I'll mention now that these two ways air equally valid, depending on what your shading, its size and the specific technique you use for shading. However, it is important to understand the differences between the two so you can use them to your advantage in your work. One of the first thing you should notice is that if you hold your pencil as if you're about to write, most of the movement comes from your fingers. Also notice where the pressure is applied here, pencil. In the first case, a lot of pressure is put right at the tip of the pencil. These factors are good for small areas or forgetting finer details, but they have some drawbacks as well. This method can create very hard lines that are difficult to erase or correct and produces narrow strokes that can leave gaps in your work, which you will need to go back in. Phil when you hold the pencil more on its side and higher up, most of the movement will come from your wrist, elbow or even your shoulder, depending on the size of the piece you're working on, pressure is put on the edge of the exposed core. This creates broader and softer strokes that are easier to remove if you're working on a large piece or shading a larger area. Broader movement from upper joints is better because they'll be able to cover more area in a fluid motion Throughout the course. You'll notice that I use both of these methods. I actually tend to hold my pencil lower, but not quite as low as if I were writing about 1/3 of the way from the tip. I find this more comfortable and easier to switch between tips, strokes and edge strokes. Practice doing random scribbles like this to figure out how you prefer to hold your pencil when you're ready will move on to the next part of the course 5. Practice II: Shading in Layers: Welcome back. I hope you were able to figure out how you best like the holder pencil. In this video, we're going to create five swatches and five radiance by layering. This will teach us how to control the amount of pressure reviews and the intensity of the shadow. You can always make something darker, but it can be very difficult to remove color or graphite later. First we start. By making this watches, I put one light layer each than build up from there. So, for example, number two will have two layers. Number three will have three, and so on. I thought the first layer of number five was too dark, so I erased it and did it again. Mistakes happen. It's no big deal. The key is to not only go over the layers again, but to increase the pressure a little bit each time too dark in the tone of the color. Next, we're going to do layers again. But this time we're going to practice shading from light to dark than light again when moving from light to dark or dark to light. You want to increase pressure slightly at different places, so you end up with a smoother transition. If you change pressure at exactly the same place each time you have very hard transitions. Try to create mid tones by using a medium amount of pressure in the transition spots. More pressure than for light, but less than for dark. Try to get the middle of your grading as dark as the corresponding swatch. Okay, let's speed this up way . Here's what the finished product looks like. Practices as much as you need to here. The transitions I mentioned earlier These ones are not as soft as I'd like, but they aren't terrible. It could be difficult to get smooth transitions with just one pencil, so it's OK if it's not perfect. We're just practicing. Once you feel comfortable with this exercise, we're going to talk about light sources, so I'll meet either 6. Locating Light: for this segment of the class, We're going to look at photos of Monday objects to talk about light and shadow. You can take your own photographs, or you can simply follow along with the video if you choose to take your own pictures. She was a simple, everyday object, but it's not too reflective or complex and shape. I chose a white mug because it has a simple shape, not too reflective and offers good contrast. Take photos of your object around your home in different lighting. I took pictures of my mug in my kitchen, my dining room and most to your office. The first picture I took of my white mug within my white kitchen, which only has one overhead light and no windows on top of my portable white dishwasher. I chose this because Shadow is extremely easy to see against something white. Throughout the rest of the course. You'll see these little yellow arrows in the videos. I'm using them to show where the light is coming from, He reconsider. Light is coming in from the right above where I would be standing to take the picture. This causes the mug to create a shadow against the dishwasher. Under it, this kind of shadow is called a cast shadow, as in the mug cast a shadow cast shadows are created when an object blocks the path of light to another service. We can also see some core shadows, though the contrast is low because the lighting in the room is not great. Core shine reforms were like can no longer directly illuminate the surface of the object. Here we also identify the lightest part of the object that is not the highlight. This is the area of the object that faces the light source and receives direct light. Let's move on to the second photograph. I took this picture in my dining room with the lights off, so the light source is coming from a brightly lit window in the middle of the day. This one was very different from the previous. First of all, the contrast of the cast shadow is a lot more subtle. This is the result of the entire room being pretty well lit with natural light and because of surface being cast upon his quite dark Second, the core shadow is much stronger and contrast that next to the drastically bright directly area. The third picture was taken in my studio office. Here we have a bright yellow light from a lamp to the left and a natural white light coming from the window behind the mug. These lights caused to cash shadows to form, which overlap and create an even darker triangular cash shadow. The core shadow is present, too. The direct light on the mug is a bit different than in the previous two photos. We have some direct light from the lamp to the left, but given the angle, we can't see the direct light against the mug from the window. Some of you may be asking, What about highlights on reflection? Very valid questions. However, I don't think these are necessary for a very basic beginner's class. I do have plans to do a companion course to this, So if you'd like to learn about other types of light and shadow, stay tuned for that course 7. Practice III: Adding Depth (1): now that we've explored pressure, layering, light and shadow, we want to start bringing these together and work towards creating her final projects. Before we do that, however, there's one more exercise we need to do. We're going to draw in shade for two dimensional shapes to start creating the illusion of 1/3 dimension. Before you start shading the objects you need to drop them. You can draw your own or down all the work she I include in the class project period. If you choose to draw your old, make sure you sketch your shapes and very lightly. Eventually you'll want yet lengths to disappear into your shading. Also, if you drop them very heavily and make steak, it'll be more difficult to remove. Remember, you can always make something darker if needed. Reverse. That's not necessarily true. Once you've drawn your shapes, meet me in the next video to start adding depth 8. Practice III: Adding Depth (2): we're going to start adding death just in two dimensional models. In real life spheres, cubes and pyramids are three dimensional, but on paper, there only flat representation of these things has artists were creating the illusion of form for you. Put your pencil to pay for. Decide where you want your light source to come from. If it helps marker on your sheet with a dog or other symbol, whenever I'm drawing, coloring or even painting, ah usually prefer to start adding value from dark to light. For this fear, I started by creating a very rough, dark to light Grady in starting at the point for this from my light source and then moving toward the light source. The closer my pencil gets the light, the less pressure and putting on the pencil. I repeat this several times, creating increasingly back layers. Add definition. Okay, the sphere is finished. Take a look at yours that make sure you have a cast shadow, a core shadow and directly when you feel your cash shadow. It should be darker in the darker shadow on the object because it is the actual absence of light. So it's prime line is actually darker than it is. Also notice how my cash shorter on one side than the other again. That's because of the light source. If you imagine two rays of light moving towards edges of your object, you can get a pretty good idea of where your cash shadow belongs, and obviously, mine should be longer on the right side. I'll get it next time. Let's move on to the Cube. I do the same thing as with the sphere, starting in the areas for this away from the light. In this case, of the three visible faces of the Cube, the one on the front should be the darkest because it is getting next to no light. When you finish a cube, this face should be contrast. Did next to the other two fates. Let's speed up for a bit. - Now I'm starting to fill in the ribbon looser than is not one of my favorite things to color because they have a lot of changes in light and shadow and can be a little challenging. For that reason, though, I think it's invaluable to practice with ribbons when you're studying Lee in shadow. If you find the ribbon too hard for your current level. Feel free to do a different shape or draw your own ribbon. As usual. I'm starting the spot I know are going to be deprived of light, so the undersides of curves and swoops and loops will be darker. All the lower bits that are not directly exposed to the light will be darker, too. After this step, I gradually fill in each part of the ribbon. Sometimes I shaved bits too dark and after race from. But that's OK. Great. Let's see what we have. First of all, we have a few different areas of direct light the Israeli bits of ribbon facing the light source and that are not obstructed by other parts of the rhythm. We also have lots, of course, Shadows and Kath shows. Keep in mind that if you have a piece of ribbon higher than another piece, it can create another cash. I don't read it when you're finished this exercise, Please add your progress to your project so I could take a look and offer feedback. In the next few videos, we'll be completing the final class project 9. Class Project I: Thinking it Out: welcome that class. So this is the line art for the final class project. We're going to fill this in with just a single pencil. Um, I lift the vase is mostly blank, in case you want to add a personal touch is to them. What I have here is this is iets old piece of mad ings that was just in my supplies. And I put this underneath when I'm drawing because the table that I'm using was pretty beat up and a lot of Hank and glue. And I also have a few sheets of printer paper underneath as well, Just in case, I'll try to give you some step by step instructions as I go along. I'm not really used to thinking out loud, but I'll do my best right now. I'm trying to decide where I want to start. If you're left handed. Um, it might be better to start on the right side of your picture. I'm right handed, so I'm probably gonna start here that way. There's not a lot of graphite from a pencil, but I'm gonna be smudging along the way. I do also have a sheet of parchment paper that I will be using If you have a sheet handy to cover up, the vets are not working on you. Grab it or you can just use a white piece of paper. I would just try not to put too much pressure on the parts of the drawing that you're not working with for this picture. You're not gonna have to decide where the light source coming from this lamp is going to be the light source. So you want to imagine that you're light is coming out in the shape of your boat so we don't just have, you know, like a straight line. We also we have, like, going this way, and it'll it'll go up a bit, but not too much because of the shades in the way, which means the shades gonna be really dark. And the stuff back here be darker than the stuff over here because the light has a lot further to travel in a lot more obstacles. But you also have to think about where on this imaginary table things they're sitting, for example, it looks like this picture frame is behind most of these vases you want to be thinking about for example, is this vase going to cast a shadow on to this picture frame? Were Is this one going to cast a shadow on this war? The goal here is to think about the direction of the light where it's going and the shadow that will produce. So before we put our pencil to paper, we know the right sides of all the objects will be darker than the left side's. Because all the left sides are more exposed to the light. Except for these books where they're going to be eliminated Maurin the top than they are in the box, for example, we're going to have a lot of late in this area, and then this is gonna be pretty dark because this is going to be very bright and there's a lot of directly going on. You're a little line here to show that there is kind of angle difference here here. So we're gonna have a lot of late here, maybe a little bit here, but underneath or the angle changes is gonna be pretty dark because the light can't wrap around that. I'm not gonna do a glossy picture frame on this picture. I'm just gonna do everything pretty, Matt. Because we haven't covered, highlighting and reflected Lay. And there's another type of shadow that I'm forgetting the name of it right now for the picture frame. Bones gonna be pretty easy, but probably want a little bit of a kind shadow on the wall about here. And you're gonna want some cash. Shadows along the inside of the frame. Maybe a little bit on the inside of Manning. You're gonna find some cash shadows from this ribbon on this vase here. You're gonna have some cash shadows over here. Hopefully, it's easy to tell that this waas and this vase are at the same level or behind the picture frame a little bit. So the cash shadow from this vase isn't going to fall on this one year kind shadow from the picture frame might for the books. So this is a rock. So you're gonna have lots. You're in a pretty deep shadow under here. You have some child here here, you know, underneath the book. Um, but the cash out is not gonna go pretty far because the light is almost directly on top. So you're gonna have more cash shadow here than you would down here also have direct late from here to this cause if you imagine a ray of light, just your pencil or grab a ruler and put it on your light source and imagine where it's going. But also think about how far back some of your objects are, So this one is not really blocking the light. Okay, so let's go ahead. 10. Class Project II: Lamp & Wall: Okay, so, Raveling parchment paper. And I'm gonna cover up the stuff when I'm not working on. We're going to start with the light, so this cord's gonna be black on. I stopped here, just in case you want to have a little bit of a frame. You can continue up if you want Teoh. Um, but, you know, just imagine it's hanging from a ceiling somewhere. So I'm gonna do my pencils to. Sure. So when you sharpen your pencil, if you plan on doing shading, you don't want this really, really hard point, because it's gonna leave really hard lines, right? So you can just really easily scribble on a piece of paper to get that hard edge. Okay, so that is gonna be a lot better. So OK, now, let's start. So I'm just gonna go ahead and fill all the court and really dark. This thing is gonna be black. So go ahead and fill that. And also remember, because the light sources going down, these are gonna be pretty dark. So it just kind of assume, assume that this is the only late in the room and just work from that, um, it's easier to work with just one light source when you're starting out. So ovary this and this is gonna be lighter in the other pieces. So you might notice that now that I'm doing broader strokes, movement is coming. Actually, from my elbow, not even from my wrist. Just moving. I'm holding the pencil steady and moving my arm backing force to get the use broader, More fluid strokes that fill up more area. I really wanna emphasize that this is No, this doesn't have to be perfect. I'm certainly not a master at these things. I'm just trying to teach you what I know. Um and just sort of you should enjoy the process you shouldn't stress about how perfect is . Okay, so the inside of this lamp is gonna be a lot later than everything outside, Obviously, because it's being lit up by this. So I'm just gonna put a little bit the shadow here, and that's really about it. Okay. So you can put shadow on your light bulb to you, especially if it's not clear. Really great. Doing clear, translucent objects are forms like glass and waters. Oh, I don't have to. So now you've got most of the color added to lamp. So now we're gonna go in and deep in everything. So for sure, we will not invest to be really dark down here because there is no Les happening here. It's just completely blocked. In fact, we can go all the way up with this since it should be a black too. Okay, so now we want Teoh Dimension, cheer as well. And this is gonna be black to, but not quite as dark as the cord. So here we have two different shapes, so amounting a dark line where the shape changes. Okay, even though there is not a whole lot of late coming up here, I don't want to be. And I want the shapes to get lost in the shadow. I still want some of spots that are darker in some spots that are lighter, like right here were added more on the sides and on the bottom. You can get a lot of different values using just one pencil, and that's why it's important to restrict yourself. Okay, so next we have this thing, which is not quite as dark because it's a different color of material. But we're still gonna do the same process. Hopefully, you can start to see a little bit of form happening. If this were an advanced class, I would be talking about adding highlighting and a soldier types of things. But I am trying to complete this with just the skills that we talked about today. So if you if you already know how to do those things and go ahead and do them, um, all the power to you I don't want to interview that way. I just want to make sure that everybody is able to complete this Now that we're doing this heart, let's start at the bottom first and really add some definition on this outer rim. And right now I'm moving from a wrist because I'm going in a kind of circular motion. I tend to use a circular motion when I'm shading and one of coloring, uh, because I find gets a lot more coverage and it blends at the same time because you're not going over the exact same spot over and over and over and creating a really hard dark line . Okay, so for this lamp for each little section, I used many, many layers to create the color or the depth of shading that I really wanted. Well, we should do start doing the background, but I haven't decided what I want to do. Some nickels. Really simple. So you just have a bit of a scribble background to kind of contrast with style that I'm using shading the rest picture. Okay. No, we're gonna move on to these books. 11. Class Project III: Books etc.: not this, uh, rock thing. Just lightning the outline right now because the top is gonna be covered in a lot of directly, so you don't want, you know, I'm really, really hard this, like it's gonna come down here and it's gonna go to the broadest part of of your rock. So a little buying here indicate that this is where your core shadow is going to develop. - So we've got a cast shadow, but again, because the lay is coming almost directly on the rock, we're not gonna have a considerable amount of cash. Great. So it's just gonna go right underneath the rock adding another layer on a curving my strokes just a little bit. And I'm gonna do this away down the spine. I wanted to be just about as even knows it can be right now, So when you're doing the books, you can think about what you learned. You shaded the cube, where one of the there's three exposed faces on the one furthest away from the light. Just this one should be the darkest and should contrast against the other two dio a bunch of random sized stripes on this. You don't have to do this. You can do your own pattern if you have one of mine. Maybe you have, um, a vase at home that you really, really like when you want a model it after that. That's totally fine. Well, there's a little bit of the center line so that I can actually be a guide to show that this is gonna be the widest part of this vase facing lights of this. I would say here, this isn't me directly. Which means that there's Army Corps shadow here. Then the secret door committees. So inside here, you're gonna have It's actually gonna be lighter. We're here, and it is here because this rim, it's gonna be blocking some late from entering. Okay, so what I'm doing now has actually I want to add definition between the spas, innocents on nature. This line is quite dark. So I had to take a break because my battery was dying back now. And in that time, I took a look at some pictures of lit light bulbs. Um, to give, get an idea of how to shade it, and I'm gonna give that a go. Mostly adds some texture back into the lamp shade. So I'm gonna fill in this whole thing with e solid like color. Little bit shadow here. And it looks like there's quite a bit of shadow on the edges of the light bulbs. More layers, you do less texture that you end up having because, you know, smoothing it out. Just adding some circles. And let's go back to this vase just grabbing a brush I use heard of a race earns if racer debris, if you have one. Great. Go ahead and use that. Okay, I decided Teoh make the stripes look like they're beveled, or sort of, you know, around it a bit. So that means that the underside should be pretty dark and there should be a real dark shadow between each one and the underside of each strike. The bottom of eats each straight should be darker, then the top. So because they're rounded, I'm also adding almost changing the shape how they look on the outside stripes. Look on the outside of the because they're not just gonna be rounded on, you know, front or something. Gonna be around all the way around 12. Class Project IV: Picture Frame: I'm gonna do wondering in front that is gonna have rope on it. So I'm gonna have the rope start right here. Okay? So now I'm gonna fill in all the rope very, very lately. So I'm adding really hard dark lines between each, um a piece of rope or whatever this is, because I'm gonna need that contrast. Okay, So I think we're gonna see a lot of direct light in this area. More shadow on the sun, this odor frame and the inside. Manning's me dark. And then this one and this one you like. So now let's talk about plate and channel. So we put our late sores here. This means we're gonna get cash shadow from, you know, on this part that's a picture frame, maybe a little bit lower, since this picture cream is actually leaning back. Which means part of it may be the upper half third, his being further back. So let's start our shadow. Let's just mark here. Really? So we know tone here is gonna be darker because there's a cash shadow from here. I had a dark line to define the laws that's in French. So the darkest parts of cash out our closest to the object casting the shadow so further we we had less Shadow is cast down here is gonna be completely obstructed. The light can't really This was standing in the way This was standing in the light. Can't really So go ahead. - No . Okay. You outside with brain is done. Now let's move on to the inside. So there's gonna be a bit of a cash shadow here along the picture frame. So the outer edges of the inside matting hear, hear, center are higher than the 10. What's in here? So but lower than this, we want a bit of a shadow. I wanted to find the lights. So we're start by doing definition of lines first. Sure. Okay. We're gonna do the same thing on the inside of those lines. Yeah, 13. Class Project V: Vase with Ribbon: Let's head cash shadow for this, folks. Okay? So the cash shadows and start over here because it's the late is hitting here. It's also gonna cast this way, and that's gonna go over here. Dio I tried to get the general shape of the shadow of the vase in the shadow. - Okay , we are almost done. Have two vases left and heart. And also Okay, so this one's there's gonna be a solid color. You have the ribbon. I think I'm gonna do that. First. There's gonna be some direct light in this area, but this one, the darkness and the darkness of this part of the ribbon is gonna be the lightest. So let's start with this piece. No, no. So this cash shadow that I'm putting here from this pause um, I'm making it. I'm trying to make it lighter on the edges and also well on this edge because the room is lit up 14. Class Project VI: Final Vase: I'm gonna try and do marbling effect. Perhaps we'll start by doing this top. No, this one is going to be pretty dark because it's almost entirely blocked by the stuff for the lay is almost entirely blocked from getting over here side of the room, very dark. Just out of this little piece of picture frame shot over. This one's gonna be pretty much straight back because overweight is coming in. - It's 15. Class Project VII: Finishing Touches: Oh!