Lines, Pleasures and Illusions

Drawing relies on your ability to trace nice lines: straight, curved and zigzagged lines. The more you trace, the better you master the lines. The outcome is a clear drawing rendering your ideas. The same goes with writing: the more you write, the better you use the words to express your thoughts.  This “practice makes perfect” approach might work for writing exercises (think that you have tons of words to mix), but might become desperately tedious for line tracing exercises (there are just 3 types of lines!).

Here are a couple of intriguing but easy-to-follow steps toward stunningly vivid lines:

     Unlock the pleasure of tracing lines

How? Attach meaning to them. Each line represents something: a road, a tree bark vein, a trajectory to fulfill. Imagine that lines slumber in a sea of senses, things and ideas. Your hand conjures them up.

    Achieving imperfection

Seamless straightness deadens a drawing. Imperfect lines make a drawing lively. (Don’t use erasers, just trace over and over.)

   Straight lines: Just an illusion?

Imagine a road: two horizontal parallel lines. Look at a real road: the two lines run toward a common point. What’s happening? Euclid’s parallel postulate got mad? Much easier than this: our eyes see something that our brain just assume (but not prove) to be in a certain way. This trick played by our eyes on our brain has been known since centuries. The ancient Greeks used to build their columns slightly bulged in the middle (this is called entasis – a Greek word meaning to strain tight) to correct the optical illusion that would make us perceive the columns as concave. A recent example: the skyscrapers have smaller sized upper floors to offer the illusion of greater height.

To Conclude:

  1. Trace line over line. No erasers around.
  2. Let the line vibrate through small imperfections. No rulers around.
  3. Use optical illusions. Recall that two parallel long lines (in reality) need to converge on the paper. This will yield perspective to your drawing, before mastering the whole set of perspective rules. It may help you to know that perspective has started to be used only around 600 years ago. Even the famous Italian architect Fillipo Brunelleschi (who built the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence) gave depth to his painting only by converging the parallel lines of the rendered buildings and roads.
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