Lines Versus Value; your viewpoint.
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    Question Lines Versus Value; your viewpoint.

    Hi all,

    I just got a bunch of art books today in the mail (Bammes, Valerie Winslow and William Maughan), and I've been reading Maughan's The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head and practicing along since morning. These are my first anatomy / drawing books, everything else I've bought so far were animation related.

    To the point, Mr. Maughan continually expresses utter distaste towards the use of lines, whether it be a border, an outline or even a simple straight line (if believability was the aim). At first I was able to easily ignore his claims, which is probably a psychological counter-action my mind took, considering all I've been doing so far has been lines and blocking within them; I really didn't want to believe him. But you can't ignore it forever, since the books all about that.

    He has slowly quite convinced me to disregard the use of lines now (and I'm not even past 30 pages), through his descriptions and visual examples. Everything is value and form. There are no lines in nature.

    This brings me to the question; should I be from now on, do all my practices in values? I feel quite apprehensive about drawing even simple outlines and contour drawing now, thinking it is bad practice. Many thoughts and techniques present in the book are revelations to me, but this one is stuck in my head. And its starting to act like an invisible gate keeper. Its difficult for me to completely accept it though; I find it hard to constuct positions of forms and connections purely with values. Maybe it's a matter of practice?

    Should I really be all this concerned? Ofcourse, many great artists and teachers use outlines and figures with contours in their books.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

    Don't bother looking at my sketchbook. I haven't updated that thing in years. :/
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    I too was delighted by Maughans technique and like to use it often as possible. It even helped me to study objects in real life a different way. That being said it is only one technique and by limiting yourself to one technique you are ultimately limiting your own art. If it has really made an impression on you then use that enthusiasm to study harder but don't feel you can't go back and study something else later on. I have been leaning more toward value myself but I would certainly use line when line makes more sense.

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    Line is one of the basic elements of design. Whether you use it or not depends entirely on you and your goals. Some elements of design are made stronger when other elements of design are de-emphasized, so if you're really going for form you may have to de-emphasize line. But that's because you have made form your goal and not because line is bad.

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    I can really see the value in learning to eliminate lines.


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    Quote Originally Posted by littlebones View Post
    I can really see the value in learning to eliminate lines.
    Me, I remain line-hearted. :-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    I find it hard to constuct positions of forms and connections purely with values. Maybe it's a matter of practice?
    yes it probably is a matter of practice. but completely ignoring the possibilities of lines, seems a bit harmful to me.

    i recommend getting harold speeds practice and science of drawing. he makes a distinction between line and mass drawing there, which i found to be a quite interesting read.

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    Lines don't exist in nature, they are a construct. It is mark making used as a symbol to represent something else. What people think of as the demarcation of a line is really an edge between two masses of varying value or hue. Of course line is important if you want to draw storyboards or comics or animation. So pick the type of art you want and that will determine if line is important to you.

    Last edited by dpaint; November 14th, 2012 at 02:03 PM.
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    It's an opinion. Every artist has their own approach. If you want to eliminate line, it's fine. If you only want to use line, that's also fine. If you want to use both, that's great. If you want to use one more than the other alright!

    Keep practicing and you'll find your own voice with what you want to use.

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    Why the hell does everything have to be "versus"? You can use line to create an effective drawing. You can use value to create an effective drawing. You can use BOTH line and value in the same drawing effectively. Hell, you can create value with lines if you want! (See any etching, engraving or woodcut...)

    You don't have to "pick the art you want" and choose line or value forever thereafter. You can use both or either as you please, depending on the drawing. Use whatever works best for whatever it is you're drawing at the moment.

    (Also, if you are doing animation, there will be lines somewhere along the line... So you can't avoid them forever.)

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    I think we should treat all art decisions as caged death matches.

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    And anyone who wants to join the debate should be required to design battle costumes...

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    And anyone who wants to join the debate should be required to design battle costumes...
    Bikini armor for everyone!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    This brings me to the question; should I be from now on, do all my practices in values? I feel quite apprehensive about drawing even simple outlines and contour drawing now, thinking it is bad practice. Many thoughts and techniques present in the book are revelations to me, but this one is stuck in my head. And its starting to act like an invisible gate keeper. Its difficult for me to completely accept it though; I find it hard to constuct positions of forms and connections purely with values. Maybe it's a matter of practice?
    You mentioned something about reading animation-related books to begin with. If it's your goal to work within animation then you should do the opposite; keep lines and work in improving them instead. As an animator (and artist in general) lines are one your building-blocks when creating and shouldn't disregarded.

    From what you mention, I think Maughan's talk is bullshit. Sure, he is a skilled drawer from the little I've seen, but I don't understand why in the world eliminate lines completely. When rendering and creating the illusion of 3d on a 2d surface you work with values anyhow, and the lines you used to sketch with are worked over. I fail to see where the problem in lines lie. As for the argument that lines do not exist in nature, well, that is correct, but nature is also in constant change. Whenever you move your eye, everything around you changes. It's a dynamic and living picture. What you're creating on your flat surface is not. It's just an illusion and to capture it you have to use techniques. Line is one of them.

    Personally I think you should give Maughan the good old finger and keep on using line. The renaissance masters did, the Flemish masters did, the academically trained maters did, the Russian masters did.

    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    Should I really be all this concerned? Ofcourse, many great artists and teachers use outlines and figures with contours in their books.
    Nah you shouldn't let this stress you out so much. He is just presenting an opinion and an approach to drawing. It's not written in stone as the ultimate truth. Just keep an open mind and a healthy approach when learning new techniques and gaining new knowledge.

    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
    I love my lines and will be sticking with them


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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    Bikini armor for everyone!
    So long as you have something that can fit my d-cups.

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    I like both...depends on the statement I want to make, technique and media I'm using. I do love Maughan's book...Henry Yan is another and you might want to pick up Douglas Graves' "Life Drawing in Charcoal" - same approacch. Drawing with broad media in value passages, focused on volume and form tends to be a more painting oriented approach so many painters lean that way. As dpaint said line is a sort of descriptive shorthand...we easily understand it to be the boundary between forms but it doesn't really exist...in that sense at least.

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    I'd be amazed if you can look at an Ingres drawing and still think they aren't worth learning. (Or Michelangelo, or Frazetta, or Wrightson, etc etc)

    Learn both. One informs the other, you'll find your own approach with experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    There are no lines in nature.
    By definition, art isn't natural. It's artificial. Lines may or may not exist in nature, but they definitely exist in our minds; otherwise we wouldn't be able to process linear pictures as symbolic representations of the real world, which is a universal human ability. You could say that color doesn't exist in nature either, as it's simply an arbitrary byproduct of how our visual system interprets a narrow slice of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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    Last edited by Elwell; November 15th, 2012 at 06:56 AM.

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    My query wasn't supposed to pit Line and values against each other literally; just to know what weighs better in the artists mind. Obviously now that I look at it, Mr. Maughan's technique has put a rather large impression on me. Like I mentioned, I still believe this is true if we want believability in terms of reality, to properly fake three dimensionality.

    @DefiledVisions I'm primarily a 3D animation student (currently doing iA) wishing to lay down solid artistic skills and also to get a good grasp of 2D animation, though I don't intend to pursue 2D professional. More or less a personal thing. I see your point though, and I'm definitely not ditching lines in favor of values, when like Etwell said, both are artificial.

    I guess it's just a matter of understanding common perspective.

    All the same, here's a crappy test I tried using Maughan's method. It's supposed to be this Indian celebrity. Yeah I suck but the thing is, I tried avoiding lines as much as possible.
    Name:  miladsdrawing.jpg
Views: 364
Size:  411.5 KB

    Last edited by MiladThaha; November 16th, 2012 at 02:24 AM.
    Don't bother looking at my sketchbook. I haven't updated that thing in years. :/
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    well perhaps i never understood what the word "line" means but if i did you are using lines all over the place. hair, outlines, details.... and there is alot more that you could do with values on this drawing. but i also don't know Maughan's method....so you can just ignore me

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    Etwell is Elwell's bikini armor wearing twin in a Darth Vader helmet.

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    It's drawing/painting so I think the criteria should be does it look awesome. I love the drawing styles of Zhaoming Wu and Glen Orbik, different approaches but beautiful results.

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    @cedule Like I said, I'm completely new to this method of representation, was just a trial. Also, how else do I represent hair without lines popping up? D:

    Time to shut up and get back to drawing I suppose

    Don't bother looking at my sketchbook. I haven't updated that thing in years. :/
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    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    Also, how else do I represent hair without lines popping up? D:
    I have no idea.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MiladThaha View Post
    This brings me to the question; should I be from now on, do all my practices in values?
    By all means...NO
    There are three kinds of drawings, painter's, graphic's and sculptor's and they work with tone (value), line (stroke) and so called "academic web" (texture), respectively.
    Neither is more or less valuable, but they just deal with the same thing (building of a form) in a different manner, appropriate for the tools each respective discipline uses (brush, coal/pen, chisel, etc...).
    Frazetta is a good example, of a happy marriage between the value and line.
    Also, impressionist's building of a value through the stroke, makes another fine example of why one shouldn't deprive himself of any tool of expression, but try to make them work together.

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    I remember I came to the same conclusion as Maughan two years ago where I believed that lines do not exist in nature and how I used approach this Idea was to repeat the "lines" that wrap around the model through shading without actually looking at the outlines of the objects(I assume Maughan was relating to painting without the line under structure.) What I actually found funny though is that two years ago I never even touched a drawing book and came to this conclusion through just constantly trying to draw what I see(because of this I came up with a lot of weird ways to draw things due to me not really knowing how other artists approached still lives.) Now I feel that after reading books and seeing how other artists see things I've came to the conclusion that lines are used to more convey ideas while creating and drawing in values is more about attempting to depict things more realistically(it's kind of hard to put down what I am trying to think in words >_<). I feel when I am drawing with line I am more concerned with the "idea" of what I am trying to draw so I can exaggerate to portray and express this idea, when I am drawing with a purely tonal method I am thinking of just "portraying" my subject. I know it sounds weird but here is how I think about these things.

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