LINE DRAWING: PRACTICAL

How to observe the Shape of Curves.

There is yet another method of construction useful in noting accurately the shape of a curved line, which is illustrated in Fig. Y, page 87 [Transcribers Note: Diagram IV]. First of all, fix the positions of the extremities of the line by means of the vertical and horizontal. And also, as this is a double curve, the point at which the curvature changes from one direction to the other: point C. By drawing lines CA, CB and noting the distances 91your curves travel from these straight lines, and particularly the relative position of the farthest points reached, their curvature can be accurately observed and copied. In noting the varying curvature of forms, this construction should always be in your mind to enable you to observe them accurately. First note the points at which the curvature begins and ends, and then the distances it travels from a line joining these two points, holding up a pencil or knitting-needle against the model if need be.

Plate XVIII. STUDY ILLUSTRATING METHOD OF DRAWING Note the different stages. 1st. Centre line and transverse lines for settling position of salient points. 2nd. Blocking in, as shown in further leg. 3rd. Drawing in the forms and shading, as shown in front leg. 4th. Rubbing with fingers (giving a faint middle tone over the whole), and picking out high lights with bread, as shown on back and arms.

Plate XVIII.

STUDY ILLUSTRATING METHOD OF DRAWING

Note the different stages. 1st. Centre line and transverse lines for settling position of salient points. 2nd. Blocking in, as shown in further leg. 3rd. Drawing in the forms and shading, as shown in front leg. 4th. Rubbing with fingers (giving a faint middle tone over the whole), and picking out high lights with bread, as shown on back and arms.

The Drawing proper.

A drawing being blocked out in such a state as the further leg and foot of our demonstration drawing (page 90 [Transcribers Note: Plate XVIII]), it is time to begin the drawing proper. So far you have only been pegging out the ground it is going to occupy. This initial scaffolding, so necessary to train the eye, should be done as accurately as possible, but don't let it interfere with your freedom in expressing the forms afterwards. The work up to this point has been mechanical, but it is time to consider the subject with some feeling for form. Here knowledge of the structure of bones and muscles that underlie the skin will help you to seize on those things that are significant and express the form of the figure. And the student cannot do better than study the excellent book by Sir Alfred D. Fripp on this subject, entitled Human Anatomy for Art Students. Notice particularly the swing of the action, such things as the pull occasioned by the arm resting on the farther thigh, and the prominence given to the forms by the straining of the skin at the shoulder. Also the firm lines of the bent back and the crumpled forms of the front of the body. Notice the overlapping of the contours, and where they are accentuated and where more lost, &c., drawing with as much feeling and conviction as you are capable of. You will have for some time to work tentatively, feeling for the true shapes that you do not yet rightly see, but as soon as you feel any confidence, remember it should be your aim to express yourself freely and swiftly.

There is a tendency in some quarters to discourage this blocking in of the forms in straight lines, and certainly it has been harmful to the freedom of expression in the work of some students. They not only begin the drawing with this mechanical blocking in, but continue it in the same mechanical fashion, cutting up almost all their curves into flatnesses, and never once breaking free from this scaffolding to indulge in the enjoyment of free line expression. This, of course, is bad, and yet the character of a curved line is hardly to be accurately studied in any other way than by observing its relation to straight lines. The inclination and length of straight lines can be observed with certainty. But a curve has not this definiteness, and is a very unstable thing to set about copying unaided. Who but the highly skilled draughtsman could attempt to copy our random shape at Fig. X, page 87 [Transcribers Note: Diagram IV], without any guiding straight lines? And even the highly skilled draughtsman would draw such straight lines mentally. So that some blocking out of the curved forms, either done practically or in imagination, must be adopted to rightly observe any shapes. But do not forget that this is only a scaffolding, and should always be regarded as such and kicked away as soon as real form expression with any feeling begins.

93But it will be some years before the beginner has got his eye trained to such accuracy of observation that he can dispense with it.