Hugh Ferris chiaroscuro


Like the previous illustration, this one is also inspired by the work of Hugh Ferriss. The term chiaroscuro is used to describe the use of strong contrast between light and dark on important parts of the composition. It is a technique that finds its origin in the Renaissance. Ferriss uses this effect with great success on his buildings.

Chiaroscuro works so well because of several reasons. First it makes the image simpler for the eye to dissect because the author has already made some decisions about what is important and what is not. The important parts are highlighted and the things in the periphery are darkened and often merely visible.

Secondly our old human brain experiences a strongly reduced visibility as threatening, in a similar way you would be scared when you would be walking in a dark forest with only the help of a flash light. A dangerous predator could be looming in every corner. Times have changed and our society has become much safer, but our brain is roughly still the same brain as it was 100.000 years ago.


Drawings by Hugh Ferriss

Drawings by Hugh Ferriss – “The Metropolis of Tomorrow”


Hugh Ferriss - Chiaruscuro 2

Drawing by Hugh Ferris – The use of chiaruscuro on buildings.


I created a plane with holes in it to simulate a pack of clouds that are letting only a part of the sunlight to come through. It took me some experimenting to get the sunbeams I wanted. For this purpose I set the viewport in 3ds Max in “realistic” mode. Below you can also see the top view of one building.


Hugh Ferriss chiaroscuro viewport


hugh ferriss chiaroscuro top view