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  1. #1
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    Line weight

    I've taken quite a few drawing courses while in school, and from introductory drawing, all the way up to intermediate figure drawing, I've never had teachers expand on the idea of line weight. Perhaps it's a relatively simple concept, but I was wondering if there is anyone who is really comfortable with the subject, they could explain the idea behind it to me in detail. I find that what my drawings lack are the depth that a subtle change in line offers. The thing is, I never know exactly WHEN to apply it, and I'd rather not keep encouraging anymore bad habits to form, lol.

    Any thoughts would be quite helpful

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    explanation to line weight

    ok, first off pick your light source. the surface line closest to the light, or most affected by the light will take on a lighter line weight appearance...and of course the surface further away from the light, and less likely affected by the light, will take on a darker line weight appearance. also, a lighter line weight is helpful in certain situations when you want to show less emphasis, for example, say you are drawing a humanoid character, and the camera is positioned so that one of the character's legs or arms are closer to the camera. drawing the leg, or arm that is further away from the camera can be done with a lighter surface line to show a greater distance to the viewer. this will also help you establish a stronger focal point in the piece. atleast that is my take on the line weight issue you are having. hope this is helpful.

    dirkah dirkah

    Last edited by g00dchild; September 11th, 2005 at 10:51 AM.
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    well.. i guess it depends on the kind of picture you are talking about.

    for instance in comic books lineweight might be used to imply form, whereas in other mediums (like digital paintings) it might go hand in hand with lightning, composition etc
    In cartooning a thick outline might just be there to separate a character from the background etc.

    I'm used to the comic/illustrator approach of adding depth and form through changing lineweight.

    heres two (old) examples.. the first from a time when I knew NOTHING about the topic and one when I was more experienced:

    Line weight
    without controlled lineweight

    Line weight
    with controlled lineweight

    as you can see in the first one, i used almost the same lineweight all over, wich makes the picture rather chaotic.. the picture is killed by its details, and you cannot make out the general forms unless you really look hard.

    it would be easier to see whats going on if i would have used thicker outlines for the separate bodyparts etc and chosen thinner lines for the details.. kinda like breaking the picture into little zones to make it easier for the eye.

    another thing would be the flow of the lines... they are rather blocky stopping the eye from wandering a bit.

    now on to the second pic. It was a tshirt illustration emphasising on less detail to make it easier for the printer, so no crosshatching or shading was allowed.

    as you can see, the flow of the lines is much easier on the eye and you can make out the different zones (the face, the hair and the fox)

    i used the effect of slowly increasing an decreasing the outlines to get a softer feel and to bring out the round shapes more as well as strenghtening the pointy tips of the fox's fur to make them more spikey.

    Often that technique is used to achieve at least a little dimension on a picture that is destined to look truly 2d.

    I reserved the thin lines for the girls hair, to get rid of the feeling that she is wearing a helmet or anything like that. I spared the fox of too many details since the girl should be the focal point.

    so long story, shorts sense: lineweight can be used to break up a picture into several zones, bring out shapes more, and to create an overall unified feeling of flow (at least in the field of lineart/cartoons/comics).

    I'm not sure about other mediums though- just breaking into the realm of digital paint etc myself currently.

    hope it helps...

    Etienne

    p.s.: just realised that those examples arent the best, i'll post some clearer ones once my hand has healed enough.

    Last edited by VirusArtist; September 11th, 2005 at 11:50 AM.

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    Thanks guys, especially for the timely reply^^

    Goodchild - I definitely see where you're coming from, and when you mean focal point, are you touching on the same ideas as Virus? Such as keeping the focus more on the subject you are drawing?

    VirusArtist - Thanks for using the pics to explain, I totally find myself in the situation you were in considering the first drawing. I'm lacking that "unified feeling of flow" that you described. Keeping everything both of you guys said in mind, I find myself looking at those samples (as well as a lot of your work on your website Virus- great stuff) and somewhat beginning to understand why each line has been given a more weighted stroke. However, there are still a few instances where I feel a little unsure as to why the weight has been placed there, so obviously I'll need some practice at visualizing as well as applying this information. What did you guys do to become more familiar with this? Anything specific, Virus, that you started doing after the first sample and the realization that your drawing lacked a particular depth?

    I'm full of questions, lol. Really appreciate the info and help tho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Returner
    What did you guys do to become more familiar with this? Anything specific, Virus, that you started doing after the first sample and the realization that your drawing lacked a particular depth?
    Well, actually I didnt realise this problem for a few years (i was used to having an inker working with me fixing the lines).
    It wasnt until I became a freelancer and one of my clients returned my work with the words: "Ink that one again and make it more fluent! Your drawing looks like a ballpen sketch!" (it was a cartoony shirt design).

    Back then I used to ink my work with a simple fineliner, basically just tracing the lines.

    In order to get paid for my work I needed to improve, so I asked other artists I knew for advise (mainly from the tattoo scene). They told me most of the stuff I wrote earlier.

    I found out the rest building on that foundation and am still learning new ways of using different lineweight through simply experimenting (there's still a lotta room for improvement).

    So all in all you just have to try to implement all that into your style.. after a few pics it will come more and more naturally until you have evolved an instinct for it..

    Cheers,
    Etienne


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    Yeah, it's definitely something I'll have to practice. I think I'll take a dive into some old comic books, just to get a good feel of the way the lineart works in general. Sound like a good idea?

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    Line Weight cont...

    np Returner

    I agree wit Virus, it does matter what kind of picture you are talking about. Definitely on the same page with the lineweight technique on keeping the focus on the focal point. Also, waht I said about the light source/lineweight was just regurgitated from my first year Drawing and Perspective class-pretty basic stuff really, but looking back at it now, it was rather vague. I agree that varying the lineweight is very helpful with the flow of the piece, and with practice, you will start to see things you didnt see before. A great way to find out waht looks good is to study a professional's work. For example, for graphite renderings, www.kevart.com , is an excellant site to see the change in lineweight, how it establishes the focal point, and teh overall flow of the piece. To be honest, nothing is set in stone, and if you can make something werk, more power to yah!
    www.wesleyburt.com is a good site for graphite rendering reference also.

    Are you still in school? If you are, I noticed that after graduation, and I was no longer being bombarded by a thousand different things at once, that things just started to make more sense.

    Keep up the good werk



    g.

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  9. #8
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    Goodchild - Yeah, I totally hear you about seeing things through practice, and it's part of what I love about the experience. I have noticed over the years though, that it's easier when you have a push in the right direction. I'm quite surprised at the number of teachers I've had that have ignored this aspect of drawing in their teachings. As you can see, especially with www.kevart.com, it's quite crucial to the overall flow of each piece. By the way, great links ^^!! It's pretty much exactly the type of drawing I was referring to, since I am in love with graphite.

    and yes, I'm still in school ^^ I'm doing my last year majoring in Graphic Design. I'm so releaved to hear you say that about post-college, LOL. As much as I love graphic design, I'm a little nuttier for natural media, so I wish I had more time to let things sink in. My curriculum is a complete joke, so it doesn't focus nearly enough on Art classes like it should.

    In any event, I'm definitely putting all of this into action as we speak, so hopefully there will be some good work I can post soon. ^^

    Ron Burgundy: I wanna say something. I'm gonna put it out there; if you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back. I want to be on you.
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