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 With Markers: Jimi Hendrix Portrait

"What is Cool?", 11x20 inches, Permanent marker stick and Gouache on Strathmore Medium Drawing Paper, 2009

Permanent markers are great tools for creating expressive black and white images. They can provide deep true blacks as rich as India Ink or fine line details. My goal on this illustration was to use only a broad tip marker to create almost all of the details. Gouache (Titanium White) was used to carve out more delicate details around the face and hands. For this work I used a No. 3. round sable brush.

"What is Cool?", detail

As you can see in this detail of the illustration, I like to be inventive with the strokes I make using markers. The series of straight and swirling strokes along the right collar were designed to create a separation between the white highlight on the shirt and the white background. The fun part was coming up with a way to accomplish this without simply adding an outline. Being inventive leads to creative ways of solving basic problems. The total impact of the illustration will be more vibrant and interesting if you can avoid boring solutions to common issues in your image making.

When is it effective to "block in" an area? 
I found it better to create large totally black areas in parts of this illustration. The reason for this was the high amount of complex textures in the photo. Too much information tires the eye and creates an overall busy appearance. Dropping out some areas like the shadow on the neck was a good idea here. However, the hair still has diagonal shards of white that I left intentionally to break up this shape. 

Why the two different approaches? 
The mass of the hair was too large a shape to simply render in solid black. Plus, the hair needs to appear light and "frizzy" as it is in the photo. My solution was to give the whole image more dynamic thrust by leaving diagonal areas of white in the hair and on darker shadow portions of the body, as well as the background. This becomes a unifying stylistic theme that pulls the whole illustration together. The verticality of these strokes makes the figure look more animated, always a good quality when trying to create a lifelike portrait.

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