Why The Beautiful Line?

A site dedicated to the art of drawing and painting, The Beautiful Line is an open forum for the sharing of information and inspiration about the drawing and rendering process in digital and traditional media.

This blog is created for all those who share a love of drawing and are enticed by the potential of a blank piece of paper, canvas, or board to create a unique work of art. This space is dedicated to the open sharing of information and experiences concerning drawing. Included here are tutorials on drawing and rendering a variety of subjects in easily accessible media.

Why the Beautiful Line? As a long time professional illustrator, artist, and instructor, I still believe that the most powerful tool for image making is the simple pencil, pen, or brush. In an era of fantastic advances in digital arts with the power to create new worlds of amazing realism, the pencil drawing remains an exquisitely elegant tool for expressing thoughts and ideas. With this in mind, I view it as a personal mission as an instructor to encourage students to draw their ideas first, before developing concepts within a software program.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Inking With Fine Tip Pens: Civil War Generals

General Joseph Hooker

"General Joseph Hooker", 8x10 inches, Felt Tip Pens and Permanent Marker on Bristol Vellum Paper, 2010

These two portraits were inked last night with a variety of disposable pens. Fine lines were created using a Permawriter II with an 07 point, and contains permanent ink similar to India ink. I also switched off to a couple of Staedtler Pigment Liners with heavier points. The black areas were filled with a Prismacolor permanent marker.
"General McClellan", 8x10 inches, Felt Tip Pens and Permanent Marker on Bristol Vellum Paper, 2010

Some important stylistic influences in these portraits are the work of illustrators like Barron Storey, Max Altekruse, and Gary Kelly. I owe much to Detroit area artist Max Altekruse, who I had the pleasure of working with at McNamara Associates from 1981 to 1995. Max is one of the great classically trained illustrators still working. He trained at the New York Artist's League more than 45 years ago and is skillful at making every corner of an illustration fascinating to look at.

The details in the faces of these illustrations are formed from abstracted shapes. The nose on General McClellan, for example, is treated like an elongated cube shape and is defined by distinct edges. Finding edges, even in the subtle contours of the cheeks, gives definition to the face and creates opportunities to accentuate the style of the strokes. This is a fundamental lesson I learned from studying the works of great illustrators like those mentioned above.

Almost anyone can render a face and create a likeness, but  top level illustrators can bring out a unique stylistic quality that makes their work easy to identify. A great example of this is the poster illustration of Drew Struzan. Visualize the Indiana Jones poster artwork and you will get an idea of what I am talking about.
Detail of line style 

Inking is the first step in the process. I plan to apply separate watercolor washes to these in Photoshop as part a series for instruction. Using the inked art as a guide I can create washes in any media on board, scan them, and create a complex color background for these renderings. The goal is to develop an antique look that matches the scratched sepia look of the old photographs.

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