The toy ideation sketch for Naruto (above) was done very fast using the basic principles of this tonal rendering system. Notice how different this style is from the fine art piece (part 1 of this article) even though it's basically the same system. The outline is prominant and the form factor is much more simplified.
Everything learned from the fine art masters has been adapted to the commercialized application of design drawing. So, this method can be used for any subject, technique, and personal style you may have with realistic or more graphic results.
To make this system of five tonal values work—define your shadow pattern
using two tonal values—the darkest of the five and the one that is a little lighter
to represent the reflective light. This leaves you with two tonal values in the
area of light to define the detail. Now, your one remaining value is simply the
highlight, which should be used sparingly to add a bit of magic to the image.
Take time to look at this simple diagram and
really examine how much form is created with the five key tonal values. Once
this concept is understood, the daunting complexities of color can also be
managed more effectively because every specific color you will ever mix falls
into one of these tonal bands. Ah, but this is for another day.
It is said that the key to great communication
is to focus on the point and not get side tracked on less important issues. The
same can be said for great concept art—no detail, tone, shading or fancy
highlights should be in your concept art unless it needs to be. Make sure
everything in your design drawing focuses on your specific point—simplify your
sketch and then simplify some more.
Never stop growing. Never stop learning. Give
this method a try on your next batch of ideation sketches and over time it will
eventually become an indispensable part of your creative process.