Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Q: What's the difference between a Line Drawing and an Outline?

A: All the difference in the world. 

An outline is that imaginary place around the edges of things, where the object ceases 'being', and becomes the background. 
Nothing actually HAS an outline. All things are fairly solid, and just Are, or Aren't. To draw a line around the edge is fine, but if it's all by itself, it doesn't constitute a Line Drawing. 
A Line Drawing provides information, using lines only, about all areas on the subject, INCLUDING, but not exclusively, the edge. A Line Drawing is like a map of the entire tonal range, shadows, markings, outside edges, reflections, everything you see before you, but without the addition of actual tones or shading. 

A drawing which is the outline only is (or can be) an empty, sad and soulless thing. A Line Drawing, on the other hand, can be a fabulous expression of the contours and shadows and all aspects of the subject, but without the use of tonal areas. A Line, expressive?? YES. 

Are you following?? !
Below are three stages of a drawing as sent to me recently by Distance Learning student M L-S. The first shows a heavily simplified outline drawing - this is much more difficult to draw because you are having to edit most of what you see in front of you.


In the second image (above), I lay tracing paper over the first drawing and added more of the 'explanation lines' - the missing information about all the shadows and reflections etc that are visible on the surface of the objects. ALL of these were addressed in the 3rd drawing (below) in the tonal study, but it is much less painful to include the 'internal' information (or Surface Information) in line as you do the initial drawing. The drawing at the top is an Outline Drawing, above is a Line Drawing.

Lovely pencil drawing by Distance Learning student Marianne L-S
Below are more lovely examples of different students line drawings, to illustrate that there is more than one way of dawing in line. These were all done by 1st year Art students.  The 1st, 2nd and 4th are all sketch book studies, size around 12in x 8in, the 3rd drawing was A1 - enormous. As you can see, all the drawings use a variety of weight of line - so that some areas are deemed more important than others. Using the same quality (or type) of line throughout the drawing would create a dull and lifeless drawing, but the use of thicker, heavier or lighter lines not only creates interest, but also serves to provide a certain amount of depth. 

Next Up - Children's Drawing Day, Portfolio Workshop, Big Drawing Day, Water Colour workshop.

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