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.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Working Loose With Markers: Faster Can be Better

Earlier in 2009 I was given a chance to create a series of loosely rendered drawings for the Signature Theatre, an off broadway theatre company in New York. While these sample drawings were not ultimately used, the resulting illustrations became good demonstration pieces for creating an interpretive drawing style with markers.
"Daryl Lathon", 8x10 inches, Sharpie Marker on Beinfang Graphics 360 Layout Paper, 2009

For me, markers are merely another painting tool. In these portraits, I worked with broad tip markers like they were brushes, using a light touch and a gestural approach. Details were refined slightly using white gouache. The total effect was designed to look spontaneous and to highlight the unique quality of markers as an expressive media.

I left open spaces between the strokes. Much like a good watercolor painting, a good black and white illustration uses the white space between strokes to maintain a certain lightness to the image. Blocks of solid color can become heavy and inactive areas that weigh down the art. 

In the portrait "Daryl Lathon", I left white showing, even in the darkest areas so that the pattern of strokes would never entirely disappear. As a result, shadow areas like the neck under his chin have a directional quality that add dynamism to the illustration. A good rule of thumb is, there should be something interesting happening in every part of the image. 

The portrait "William Inge", is even more aggressive in its use of "active" strokes in the shadow under his chin. This is actually a second attempt at rendering this subject. In the first version, not pictured here, I blocked in the neck with too much black and spent too much time trying to refine the details of the face. The result was a less lively illustration that I ultimately threw in the trash. The second attempt was rendered more rapidly to create a quick sketched quality as though drawn from life. The portrait was actually developed from a photograph.

"William Inge", 7x12 inches, Sharpie Marker on Beinfang Graphics 360 Layout Paper, 2009

To create the final art, I added color to each of the drawings in Photoshop as shown below. The line art was scanned at 300 dpi and imported into Photoshop as a transparent layer. A heavily textured acrylic painted background was also imported into Photoshop, along with fragments of images and a wallpaper pattern.

"Daryl Lathon", 8x10 inches, Markers and Acrylic Paint

"William Inge", 7x12 inches, Markers and Acrylic Paint

1 comment:

  1. There's lots of cool stuff here! You are one prolific artist. I must admit I'm one to look at the pix more than read every word. I'm going to send links to this blog to some people I know will love your work!