The Other 5 Elements

Fundamentals continued…

pages 14-20

Following the Five P’s, Andrew Loomis gives us five more essential elements which are integral to Successful Drawing.  These five all begin with the letter ‘C’, and are so called the Five C’s. Where the Five P’s were formal concerns, tending toward the technical, the Five C’s include 2 elements that are more of a philosophical nature.  The remaining 3 terms are further technical concerns.

The Five C’s:

  1. Loomis advises artists to close their eyes prior to commencing drawing, and to imagine the subject which they intend to draw. He adds that the subject should be thought of in connection to the basic purpose that the artist is trying to achieve in doing the drawing.  He terms this the CONCEPTION of the subject.
  2. As soon as the Conception is made, immediately the artist is faced with the challenge of putting his Conception down correctly on the paper.  That image conception may be crystal clear, or hazy in one’s mind, but regardless of which, the committing of  vision to paper is another thing.   Loomis groups all of the methods an artist may use, including  working from photo references to live model sittings to building an image from sketches, as within the second category CONSTRUCTION.  Considering the Construction of a thing represents the artist’s efforts at understanding the mass and the bulk of whatever he is trying to represent.  Construction is based on view point and perspective.
  3. The sibling of Construction is CONTOUR, that is the outer edge of a mass in space.  Loomis indicates that Construction and Contour are indivisible, and one cannot be achieved properly without the other.
  4. Moving into the less specific, Andrew Loomis adds CHARACTER as the fourth essential element.  He states: ” Usage brings character to an object; experience brings it to man.”  When attempting to represent a thing, be it living or inanimate, the more accomplished artist is able to capture its Character.  What Loomis means in regards to capturing Character is when artwork achieves more than verisimilitude with reality.  A drawing which seems able to represent that intangible aspect which is singular and belonging to the one subject represented -and to no other- is when Character has been achieved.  As an afterthought, Loomis adds that in portraiture, Character is paramount, and it depends on an understanding of placement, planes and contour.
  5.    Andrew Loomis is not hesitant to label this last point the most important of all of the elements.  The final element is CONSISTENCY.  This element is the umbrella element in some ways, in that it is the expression of ALL of the elements in concert, from the P’s through the C’s.  Each of these 10 Elements need to be in a state of non-contradiction. Loomis advocates for a consistency of technical understanding, competency in usage of media, and artistic purpose expressed throughout the artwork.  This means having a handle on all of the elements, and letting them work through one’s act of drawing.  He ends with this quotation: “The artist cannot go wrong when he can see the big truths”


As a wrap up, Andrew Loomis explains to us that the failure of a drawing is nothing more than the failure in one or more of these 10 Elements.  He roundly encourages us to focus on the 10 Elements and not on artistic message or on trying to achieve saleability.  The reason being that both expression and sales are made so much more difficult when an artist does not understand how to draw.  Everything begins with learning the fundamentals of SUCCESSFUL DRAWING.

2 thoughts on “The Other 5 Elements

  1. I appreciate the reductionist approach and the simplicity that having two sets of five concepts provides to the task of identifying strengths and weaknesses in technique and execution.

    The pair of Cs here: CONSTRUCTION and CONTOUR, are ones of particular interest to me. I would say that my weakness lies in the CONSISTENCY between CONSTRUCTION and CONTOUR, and so far as to include PLANES and CONTOUR.

    As a younger child I focused on the CONTOUR of things: drawing a continuos line to identify a shape.
    This was good practice to develop my observation. Oftentimes however, the practice resulted in overall forms that did not consider the PLACEMENT of the objects in the space and did not produce objects with any PLANES in particular, flat and not occupying any space.

    In my later years of pursuing art at secondary school, the practice of life drawing and using charcoal brought about a focus of drawing in blocks of tone, rather than looking at a line to define an object.

    The instructor spoke of blocking in tones to develop into a practice to painting, as this was the end goal of this particular drawing course.

    This helped immensely in examining objects as PLANES and I have continued in my drawing by considering planes and construction to define to overall shape of an object.

    What I have failed to develop though is “that Construction and Contour are indivisible, and one cannot be achieved properly without the other.”

    This insight can provide some focus for my continued work.

    What are your areas of challenge?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t add anything to this great comment, except that I never had a single art teacher from highschool through university fine arts tell me the idea about blocks of tone vs contour. The first place I heard it was from the mouth of Jeffrey R. Watts, at comicon in around the year 2000. He talked about drawing from the inside out…in fact, he seemed very against comic art at the time of that convention. It makes sense considering how low the standard of illustration was in comics at that time.


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