I'll get an entry in here for the Inferno EOW about Monday. Meantime, here is the Lecture Post I gave my mentees.
There are three ways we can create interest in black and white lines.
1. Varying line width
2. Varying line value
3. Varying line edge
Varying line width is fairly self explanatory. See the diagram. Not every line has to be exactly the same width. Think about how wide each finished line should be before you put it on the drawing. If you are thinking about your lines and putting them on in a purposeful manner, it will show. People will be able to see that you, and you alone, are in charge of your drawing. The drawing is not in charge of you.
Line value is how dark or light a line is. This is why you have hard and soft pencils. It is why I spend as much time talking about shadows as I do talking about lines. Are lines and shadows the same thing? Not really. Remember, you can draw a line of light with your eraser, if you want to. You are in charge after all. Always draw the line exactly the width and darkness/lightness you want in order to express what you intend to express. Lines are sort of a shorthand way our brain interprets what we see. In many cases what we interpret as a line while we are doing blind contours is not really there at all. If that model we are drawing moves to a different kind of light, the lines around the shadows are no longer in the same place. Maybe they aren’t there at all. Since we are all just a collection of atoms whirling around in space, maybe the line we all think is around the outside of each of us is also not there. I think of drawing as a sort of magic trick. When we draw a person, that person cannot step up out of the page and come alive. We definitely want to make them look like they could, though. Lines are the hidden wires we can use to fake out our viewer into believing our drawing is real. Light and shadow are the secret we have hidden inside our sleeve. We are in charge of making an illusion of reality and we purposefully use our bag of tricks to make people believe the illusion. It’s kind of fun.
Line edge can also be varied. Some lines can have a hard edge and some can be soft. What is the thing that we are drawing? Is it chrome steel or is it black velvet? The edge on steel can be kind of hard while black velvet is soft. Shouldn’t we use one of our tricks to help us magically turn a piece of paper into steel or velvet? Line edge is a trick that can come in very handy here. (So can line value).
As you become more and more good at using your magic tricks, people will be more and more impressed with the quality of your drawings. They might not think about it this way, but all you are really doing is skillfully putting marks on a paper in a sort of code form that fakes the viewer’s brain into thinking they are looking at a real thing. You are getting into people’s heads. You are like an alchemist who can transmute paper into steel, or at least that is what you seemed to do. Never put a trick permanently into the dust bin. Even if something I teach on here is not something you want to use in your day to day drawing style, years from now you may have a drawing problem you want to solve, and one of these tricks can pop forward into your brain. You perhaps will then have a sudden clarity of perception of what that particular trick is good for, and you will reach a new level in your drawing. I am not making any of this stuff up. I am just sharing tricks with you that other people figured out hundreds of years ago. Thus, we are all members of a big community of illusionists who have each dedicated our time to mastering the code of mark making.
I have done a little more work on boats in the right middle ground but that big painting is still half completed in my living room in Arizona. I'll have to put a few hours per weekend into it this winter to get it done. I hate leaving a painting half completed. Here is my Inferno Environment of the week I made Sunday instead of working on the big painting.