174. Those Intricate Lines

Drawing tone using a crumbly medium like graphite or charcoal, or a viscous medium like paint is one thing. Trying to render believable tone using lines is something else altogether.


Take a look at the build up of tone on this one for instance. It's a victorian wood etching. (Click to see how the lines actually achieve it.)


If you study the picture you will see that:

1. The drapery has directional lines to lead the eye over the flow of the garment.

2. Shadows have hatching to allow for dense shadow. Observe the far right of the umbrella and you will see how cleverly the artist uses directional lines again to indicate the curvature.

3. How the horizontal broken lines create ominous masses in the background sky.

4. How the paper white creates that flash of lightning, lighting up the ball on the wall above, and the edges og the umbrella.

5. Don't miss that poor, wet, miserable dog. Picked out of the background with it's own contour.

So many little techniques come together to create a wonderfully engaging piece.


(And the special treat in these drawings for those who participated in the Whiter than white assignment. Now you know why the white highlights in the drawing look brighter than the paper white, even though it's the same thing! Awesome isn't it?)


So there's the theme for today folks.To carefully study these victorian master artists and learn from the renderings. When you're ready, go ahead and render a beauty of a line drawing. Astonish us all.


Here a few more by the same artist, Adelaide Claxton.



OWF23.jpgAnd some others I found on the net...














Quite dense and different in style, but still a beaut...




And plenty more here...





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    • great lines!Beautiful work!
    • Thanks Kiran
    • It's nevertheless awesome and poe worthy. Very well done! Missed you here, and glad to see you back.
    • Just getting back to some drawing after ages.
  • this work is outstanding!
  • George, nice that you brought up etchings. A little background would help.


    Artists started multi-copy reproduction of work first with wood-cuts. But fine, complex line work with wood is hard to achieve. Then along came metal etching, which the goldsmiths and metal workers knew can be worked very fine. You have master etchers like Durer (leader of Northern Renaissance and a goldsmith's son) and then Rembrandt. Durer's etching are mind boggling for their precision of work. Note that this was the only technology available then for making multiple copies of art. Lead type worked only for text, not for art reproduction. Then came many intermediate technologies like mezzotint (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezzotint) , Daguerrotye  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daguerrotype ), Oleographs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleograph), etc. Until finally we come to photography and today's offset printing. 


    The examples of work above were essentially used in magazines. Magazines required quick turnaround time. Many books too contained such illustrations. Ones I recall are books by Dickens in particular. These are excellent to learn how to create light and shade using linear techniques.


    JMW Turner prepared a set of etchings (mostly based on his drawings) called "Liber Studiorum" that were intended as  best examples of his art intended for mass circulation. These are available as scattered pieces across net. John Ruskin, the great Victorian art critic and himself an expert draftsman, strongly recommended that aspiring artists should study these plates. 

    Many Studiorm plates are here: http://www.j-m-w-turner.co.uk/liber-studiorum.htm 

    and of course at the ultimate Turner repository: The Tate, London, the home of Turner archives. But their scans are of very small size. http://www.tate.org.uk/international/reflections/liber_studiorum.html


    There is probably nobody other than Turner who has studied and objectively represented landscape with such prodigious skill. Yes, Thomas Girtin and John Constable are excellent too. But Turner is Turner :-) One should see his large watercolors and of course the Blue Rigi, to really grasp this man's maddening skills and devotion to his art. 


    I learned about all this from John Ruskin's Elements of Drawing, probably the best Victorian introductory drawing book. Here is a site (used to be down, but seems up now) http://ruskin.ashmus.ox.ac.uk/ that has all the Elements of Drawing teaching examples (models and prints use by Ruskin in his Oxford drawing classes). 


    Enjoy :-)



    • Wow Hasit! What a treasure the Ruskin site is. Thanks so much for sharing!
    • Ruskin himself was a skillful draftsman. Of course, he was many things more! Too many to mention in this box in fact. But his Elements of Drawing is my big favorite.
    • Thanks indeed, both Hasit and George. I will never have the dedication of those Victorian era etchers, but I can see how very essential this is in building drawing skills, and more importantly to learn to see value changes. The kind of etching that really appeals to me is that of Anders Zorn, not only for his superb drawing skills, but also for elevating etch marks to such sublime levels of creative flourish!

      Anders Zorn Art Gallery
    • wow! Anders Zorn works are feast to eyes!
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