Old Masters Academy

Pencil Drawing – Line Drawing

In this article we deal with the line drawing phase. We assume that we already have a gridded reference picture of the correct size at our disposal.

Your reference image will often be too large for most printers to print in one piece. To get around this you could print the image in pieces on plain 8.5 x 11 inch paper.

Step one consists of drawing a grid on your drawing paper identical to the one you drew on your reference image. To do this, use an F-pencil and draw lightly because this grid will need to be erased.

With this gridded image in hand you can now start drawing the actual line drawing phase.

There are many rewards associated with the use of a grid. Here we list a few:

* The grid essentially divides the overall drawing into a number of smaller individual drawings. This way, we are making use of the divide and conquer technique.

* All orientations and lengths are easily determined.

* Negative space is easier to spot.

* Identifying the correct perspective is much easier.

Here are a few guidelines for executing your line drawing:

* At this time, only draw lines. Do not add any shading, blending, or details.

* Draw lightly. Use 3B-pencil and sharpen it frequently.

* Concentrate on one square but do also keep an eye on the associated neighborhood using your peripheral vision.

Be sure to smoothly transition from one square to the next. Stand back and check out your progress from a distance and look for errors in value, perspective, orientation, and lengths. * In this phase of the drawing process accuracy is of primary importance. Think intently about judging lengths and angles correctly within a single square. Use short and soft lines that can be easily erased.

* You can use a sheet of bond paper under your drawing hand to avoid smudging your drawing or your grid.

* Where needed also draw shadow contours and all the necessary details. The idea is to plot a detailed map of the scene you wish to create. All this is done in preparation for the next phase of the drawing process, i.e., the shading phase.

* Try to see shapes and draw their contours. Concentrate on the one line you are currently drawing (its length and orientation) but also pay attention to the shape it is part of.

* Use the negative space concept. Now and then, turn your reference picture and your drawing sheet upside down or sideways. This gives you a different perspective on lengths and angles.

* Try to ignore the actual meaning of what you are drawing. Look at each mass as a blob without meaning. Only the dimensions, the orientation, and the contour of the blob are important.

This will help you greatly with seeing correctly and will also reduce the involuntary introduction of your preconceived notions about how certain objects (like vases or flowers) are supposed to look like.

* Constantly look at your reference picture. You should look at your reference (or your life scene) more often than at your drawing paper.

* Make some choices. What is important? What can you possibly leave out? Drawing is an exercise in eliminating unnecessary details.

In this manner, continue drawing one square after another until you have a complete line drawing of your scene.

At this stage you should have a pretty good likeness of your scene. Review in detail the entire drawing and make corrections wherever necessary. This is also the time to get rid of your grid.

Finally, spray the drawing lightly with fixative. Spray just enough to eliminate smudging but not too much so you can still erase lines when needed.

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