A Specialized Method of using Diagonals

This week’s posting will be a very straight forward one.  Andrew Loomis’ third example in this section of Successful Drawing shows how the artist can use diagonals to create a checkerboard pattern in perspective.  This is useful for drawing repeating windows of uniform size, or bricks on a wall receding into the distance.  The example I will use is of a brick wall.

This is how it is done.

  1. Create the perspectival plane which will be the brick wall.  Locate the Vanishing Point. Use any angle that you wish.1
  2. Divide the near vertical edge of the wall into equal separations.  The size you choose will represent how tall each brick will be.2
  3. Cast lines to the V.P. from the points indicated by the vertical spacing you created with the brick heights in step 2.  We shall call these lines the Brick Height Lines.3
  4. Here is where the diagonal comes in.  Cast a diagonal line from corner to corner on the face of the wall you are drawing.  The diagonal can go up or down. 4
  5. Where the diagonal (blue line in this example) crosses each of the multiple Brick Height Lines, draw a 90 degree vertical from the bottom of the wall to its top.5
  6. Repeat this at each crossing point, and the wall plane will be divided perfectly in perspective.6
  7. Erase the guide lines to reveal the wall.7

Uses

This method can be used for drawing multiple series of drawers, such as in a morgue or a bank vault, architectural or vehicular designs, it can be used as a grid for aiding the placement lettering or imagery on signage, or as a way of drawing bricks and checkers.

The diagonal is the key to being able to measure the depth of the sections.  Next week, I will explain how the diagonal can help in measuring, and thus correctly drawing a repeating panel section in perspective.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you next posting.

 

Depth by Diagonals: method II

As discussed last week, the current section of the book Successful Drawing which I am reviewing, deals with some of the drafting rules for determining the depth of an object by casting diagonal lines.  Last week we covered the first method, and this posting then will explain Loomis’ second method which is outlined in the text.

The use of the bisecting vertical

This method is very similar to the one outlined in the previous posting, but here, Loomis introduces a few more ‘controls’ to make certain that the placement of receding points are accurate.  He advocates for the use of a bisecting vertical to be placed along the horizon line, to keep everything accurate.  I find this method to be very useful for drawing buildings, with repeating surface features, such as windows, facade details, or columns on ancient buildings.  Let’s get into it.

  1. First, let us consider that you are trying to draw a building, with a series of columns located in regular intervals along the side of it, going off into the distance.  First, create the near corner height of the plane you wish to decorate, and sight the V.P.per2
  2. Now, the artist must place the ending of the facade plane at what Loomis calls the optional depth.  This is the most unscientific part of his instruction, because it leaves the artist to place the second line by eyeball.  He uses the word optional not in the sense that one may draw it or not draw it, but instead Loomis means where the line is drawn is optional, i.e. it is up to you.  Once the visual depth chosen pleases the artist’s eye, he has created a section. The second line drawn is called the Terminus Line, as it delineates where the section terminates.  This section is now easily cloned in perspective.per3
  3. Now, the next step is the technical part of the procedure.  The artist casts lines diagonally through the section, starting at the near top and bottom corners and extending through their diagonally opposing corners. Following that, a vertical line must be drawn bisecting the horizon perpendicularly, through the V.P.  The diagonal lines must extend far enough to reach the point where the new vertical line delineates.  Mark the points where the diagonals cross the vertical.  Let us call the new high and low points, the Vertical Points.per6
  4. This X of diagonal lines shows the centre of the section, and sets the artist up to clone the depth for the following section.per7
  5. To find the depth of the second section, the artist again casts new diagonals, but this time he must start from the top and bottom of the newly drawn Terminus Line of the established section.  These lines are cast diagonally up and down to both the high and low Vertical Points,  This will create another X within the Lines of Perspective.  per9
  6. A new Terminus Line is drawn vertically where the diagonals cross the Perspective Lines, and a second section is established.per10
  7. Repeat from step 5, casting diagonals to the Vertical Points.  The sections will be drawn in their proper visual depth as per the laws of perspective. per11
  8. These sections could delineate where a repeating surface feature is found on a building, such as a column or any regular repeating element, including doors, windows and other architectural features.  This method is even useful for drawing a series of parked cars along the sidewalk, since many cars are relatively the same length, the sections can represent the cars’ body length.  Any anomalies of vehicular type can be adjusted for as needed. per12

This concludes our posting of Understanding Loomis.  Next week’s post will again unpack another of Andrew Loomis’ methods of finding depth by diagonals.  Stay tuned.

Finding Equal Spacing using Diagonals

In this posting of Understanding Loomis, I will explain the primary method Andrew Loomis outlines in what he calls ‘depth by diagonals’.  This is a rule of drafting which accurately represents depth in a subject matter featuring a repeated pattern, or a repeated spacing of surface feature.  This particular treatment is useful for illustrating a sidewalk receding into the distance, or a tiled floor going off down a hall, or a train track with ties crossing the rails, traveling away to a vanishing point.  It is a very useful mechanic to know.

To emphasize why knowing this mechanic of perspective is important, I will describe a scenario where such knowledge would save the artist painstaking hours of ineffective trial and error, or unconvincing guesswork.  Consider; you as an illustrator have been given the task of drawing a rural road, where small trees and shrubs are growing along the side. Also standing along the road at regular intervals of 30 feet, are a series of 6 telephone poles on the shoulder.  The image is to be drawn with the vanishing point of the road in the centre of the horizon, as if the viewer were standing at the head of the road, looking off to where it fades into the distance.

Drawing the simple one-point perspective of the road is no problem, and the shrubs/trees needn’t be precisely drawn on account of their being organic and irregular in nature, hence their placement is not a problem either.  The telephone poles on the other hand are man-made, and erected with a constant distance of 30 feet between each of the pole bases.  To be able to accurately place each pole as they recede into distance, is a baffling task to those unaware of technical perspective.  Many artists would rely of approximate placement of the poles, by ‘eye-balling’ the spacing.  This may be acceptable in some cases, but where approximation is not acceptable, a technical solution is necessary.

This then is how it is done.

Depth by Diagonal

(For the sake of these perspective lessons, crude sample drawings which were done in Photoshop in a matter of a few seconds, will be used forthwith.  Proper, elegant drawings will be used as examples where actual drawing matters are being considered)
  1. First represent the road and the bushes in one point perspective.  Bushes and trees are organic, and can be represented by eye without difficulty.  The rules of perspective still apply, but the artist can be a little sloppy in representing their relative size, since trees and shrubs are not regular.road1
  2. Next place your first pole.  Use the relative size of the trees around it for its height. road2
  3. Next find the Vanishing point of the road on the horizon line.road3
  4.  Now, draw a diagonal line from the near corner of one of the Lines of Perspective, through the base of the first pole to a secondary point on the horizon line. Let us call this new point on the horizon Point One. road5
  5. Next, draw a horizontal line (i.e. parallel to the horizon line – natch!) from the base of the pole, crossing through both Lines of Perspective.road6
  6. From where this horizontal line meets the opposite Line of Perspective, draw another diagonal line to the secondary point you drew in step 4, which we called Point One.road7
  7. Cast lines to the actual VP from the top and bottom of the telephone pole, and pay attention to where the bottom line crosses the diagonal which you drew in step six.road8
  8. At the crossing point, draw your second telephone pole.  The top line will show you how tall to make it.  road9
  9. Repeat the process, and erase your guidelines.  The end result will show the poles moving off in correct perspective, spaced evenly apart.  road10
  10. Work in reverse  to fill in any posts which should appear before the initial one you drew.road11

The Uses of  Depth by Diagonal

Shown below is a sample of the nuts and bolts of the Depth by Diagonal mechanic.  This example is shown stripped of any context in order to help the student imagine the uses of this rule of perspective.  Some ways I have used this method of representing perspective in drawing comics are as follows:

  • representing regular sized plates of steel, clad on the hull of a ship
  • drawing the separation lines of ceiling panels on a t-bar drop-ceiling in an office
  • sidewalks, with contraction joints showing in the concrete
  • patterned carpet expanses
  • windows, or other architectural features on buildings
  • any regularly spaced series of object, such as telephone poles, the cars of a train, the ties between train track rails, the broken lines on a road which indicate a passing lane etc.

dbydiagonal

Next week, we will examine a variation on this method of finding Depth by Diagonals.  I hope you will join me.

Drawing the Perspectival Ellipse, or the ‘Laying Circle’

To conclude the written section on perspective, Andrew Loomis gives us some rules to remember as well as a few reminders of some familiar points he has elaborated on in previous sections.  Consider these to be Loomis Axioms, as they are each gems in their own right.  In rapid succession, here are the highlights from the end of the written section on perspective:

  • To know is to save time, and the more you lean on your ‘crutches’ the more your strength will ebb
  • be more concerned with geometric shape and light/dark than with little muscular ‘lumps and bumps’ when figure drawing
  • photos with several light sources -which is the norm for most modern photography- defy every principle of good drawing
  • art chooses to elevate a subject above the multiplicity of nature
  • since we as humans cannot do otherwise than live with nature and her laws, art cannot either
  • deeper knowledge of reality will bring the artist added power
  • Caravaggio had it harder than we do, and he was better
  • use the wrist for your strokes, not your fingers
  • avoid scratchy, small, thin-lined strokes for greys and blacks

Perspective the Artist Should Know

The following section consists of several examples of concrete perspective rules.    These are concepts derived from drafting, and methods of solving perspective problems which are not well-known amongst artists unfamiliar with the mathematics of representing reality.

A few postings ago, I explained the methodology of drawing what I termed ‘the Laying Square’, that is a square drawn in a specific perspective so that it appears to lay on the ground.  I also mentioned how Andrew Loomis outlines the principle of using a rectangular prism as a temporary enclosing box, around whatever subject the artist is trying to represent.  As a rectangular prism is easy to imagine in perspective, this temporary shape drawn in place of the actual subject, helps the artist visualize the mass and perspective of what he is actually trying to draw*.  We shall proceed then, from this point.

*Please refer to the previous 2 postings for elaborations on this concept.

Drawing the Ellipse

Being able to draw an ellipse is very important.  The ellipse is a fancy word for an oval, and the oval is how we perceive circles in perspective.  There have been many instances where I’ve needed to draw a circle correctly in perspective in my professional art career; I can’t seem to get away from them! So many things from the man-made world are circular.  Here are a few I have already needed to draw in my career as a comic artist.

  • tires of cars
  • dinner plates and mouths of cups
  • the bases of columns
  • warrior shields
  • flying saucers(!)

There are certainly countless more examples.  Since there are so many circular things which an illustrator may be called upon to draw in perspective, it is essential to understand how it is done.

If any object can be conceived of as being bounded within a rectangular prism, then the drawing of the Laying Square is essential to begin with, in order to draw an ellipse.  Once the Laying Square is drawn correctly to the horizon, and in the correct perspective to your other scenic objects, the next step is to divide the Laying Square.

In the following examples, I will use a regular square, not drawn in perspective. This is done so that the steps I am outlining are in their easiest form to comprehend.  The rules are the same for a Laying Square, though it may be slightly harder for some to draw.

Step one: Draw your Laying Square in the perspective you want. (here represented in flat-on perspective)

drawn square Step two: find the centre of the square by drawing diagonal lines from each of the 4 corners to their opposite. This will create an X sign.

corner to corner

Step three: Draw lines from the centre of each of the sides, crossing through the middle point of the square, to a point on the middle of the opposing side. This will create a + sign.

side to side

Step four: Using the side to side lines as a guide, draw a new square, turned at 45 degrees to the original square, inside of it.

divide with lines

Here is what you should have with the square actually in perspective.loomis laying square

Step 5: Mark points A and B as shown in the example on  the side/corner of the 2 squares you have drawn.  You will need to do this for each of the sides/corners.loomis laying square points ab

Step 6: Mark the halfway point on the line between point A and point B.

loomis laying square points ab halfway

Step 6: Draw an arc just shy of the halfway point, spanning from the two corners of the inner, 45 degree square.

loomis laying circle

Step 7: Do this for each of the sides of the inner, 45 degree square. This will produce an ellipse, which will be the accurate representation of a circle were it laying in the perspective you have chosen.  We can call this the Laying Circle, or a perspectival ellipse.

loomis laying circle Red

This is how the artist can accurately draw columnar shapes in consistent perspective with other shapes in a picture.  All that is needed to be done is to draw verticals from the sides of the Laying Circle, and a secondary Laying Circle (derived from a Laying Square) as the cap.loomis laying circle column

Beyond this example, Andrew Loomis indicates to us a few facts about drawing the Laying Square and hence the Laying Circle.  He states that when drawing small objects (thus small Laying Squares), it is best to place the two Vanishing Points far apart from one another.  If the object you are drawing is big (thus the Laying Square will be big), place the two Vanishing Points closer together.  If one doesn’t adjust the V.Ps this way, distortion will occur in the drafting.  He concludes by saying that your eye will see the error right away, and most artists will make this “closer/further apart” adjustment naturally.

My upcoming several posts of Understanding Loomis will each concern a single one of Loomis’ perspective examples, as well as my explanation.

See you in seven.

 

 

Concerning Rendering of the Geometric Shape

My last post introduced the reader to Andrew Loomis’ concept of imagining any object primarily as a geometric shape, prior to attempting to draw it.  After one is able to conceptualize subject matter as a series of three-dimensional geometric shapes, Loomis reminds the reader that:

Every plane must have its relative values correctly rendered, or the entire image will fail to convince.

It is appropriate at this time to therfore indicate how one correctly renders the five essential, three-dimensional geometric shapes.  To do this we will perforce need to leave Andrew Loomis for a short while.

The essential shapes, if the reader recalls, are

  1. the Cylinder
  2. the Cone
  3. the Sphere
  4. the Torus
  5. the Rectangular Prism

All other geometric shapes are derivatives of these primaries.

Rendering the Shapes

Each of the above 5 shapes show their dimensionality and mass in predictable and easily memorized  patterns of rendering. To help the student, the patterns of value can be remembered as “value shapes”, in that the lights and darks will take on a recognizable geometric form when laying upon the larger three-dimensional shape being represented.  These rules should be memorized in order for the artist to properly represent the shapes. (each of the rendering examples are from this site by Bill Martin)

  • The Cylinder:  rendering the cylinder is done in bands of value, laying lengthwise along the body of the shape; i.e.  if the cylinder is sitting upright, as does a soup can in your cupboard, the bands of value will be vertical.  Should the cylinder be laying down, as does a felled tree or a log, the bands of value will run horizontally (or at whichever angle the log lays at). Below is a representation of a cylinder, as well as an example of how the bands of value will fall.  The “value shape” is essentially rectangular.
  •  The Cone:  when rendering the cone, the values take on a basically triangular shape, with the vertex of each  triangular “value shape” corresponding to the vertex of the cone.  The bases of the “value shapes” are slightly curved to follow the curvature of the cone’s base.

     

  • The Sphere: to render light and dark on the sphere, the artist must look to create two sections of “value shapes”.  Primarily, an oval shape, which will form on the section of the sphere where the highlight is, and the corresponding darker values in crescent shapes, nearer to the edges of the sphere
  • The Torus:  the torus is somewhat complicated in that it’s “value shape” bears the qualities of both the cylinder and the sphere.  To render the torus, some sections of the “value shape” need to be treated as one does the cylinder; i.e. it will be basically rectangular, whereas other sections of the shape is more like the sphere’s crescent.  The rectangular, band-like aspect of the torus’ “value shape” are found within the length , whereas the crescent aspects  are found at the extreme right and left of the shape, relative to the viewer.
  • The Rectangular Prism:  this shape, though likely being the most familiar to the artist, is actually the most complex to render.  This is because of the necessary lack of curvature on the Rectangular Prism’s 6 planes.  The flatness of the planes necessitates a gradation effect to be represented on their faces. The Rectangular Prism therefore has no “value shape” to look for when rendering its planes; each of the shape’s sides will feature a gradation. The key factor to remember when rendering the Rectangular Prism is that the gradation on the planes are in opposition to one another, i.e. that the darkest value of any plane will meet on an edge  with the lightest value of the adjacent plane. Correspondingly, the values of each other section of plane will meet on an edge with their opposite value on adjacent planes.

 

Next time, we will return to Andrew Loomis and his final considerations of geometric shapes, their use in figure drawing, and his closing thoughts to this section of the book, Successful Drawing.

Of interest to my readers, I would like to inform you that I will be now posting new entries for Understanding Loomis every Sunday, in order to complete my synthesis of Andrew Loomis’ writing in a more timely manner.

See you in 7 days.

Imagining the Geometric Shape

Previously, I went at some lengths to explain a concrete method of drawing a laying square at any perspective.  The reason this was done was in order to establish a groundwork for the student to begin to visualize the square as the base of a cube. A cube can me made from the laying square by drawing vertical lines up from the corners, and by adding an identical laying square as the lid.  Alter the height and width dimensions, and one can easily draw various Rectangular Prisms in perspective.

The Rectangular Prism in 3-Dimensional space is the primary shape Loomis encourages us to become familiar with from any angle.  The reason being, is that this shape will enclose any other shape which exists. Even the perfect sphere will fit in the perfect cube.  Some shapes are long, some tall, many are irregular; but when one visualizes a Rectangular Prism bounding what one is trying to draw around the object, the artist takes the first step to being able to draw that object with mass and perspective.

If one does not use a beginning framework of Rectangular Prisms to work out the perspective of the various objects within a composition,  the shortcomings will be evident to viewers on account of, again, ‘Intelligent Perception’.  Stated differently, there is no way to “fake” correct perspective, so it does one best to work it out properly at the beginning.

Setting up a a geometric shape as a shorthand for an organic shaped object has further uses beyond perspective and understanding mass.  An additional use is in aid of the artist seeking to establish values.  When an artist is trying to work out his values (lights and darks) within a picture, it is much easier -and more appealing visually- if the gradation of light to dark is done in a series of planes, rather than rendered as one continuous blend.  The ability to see form as a series of interconnected geometric shapes is essential to rendering transition of values in planes.  This treatment of light and dark creates an aesthetic which the photograph cannot duplicate, and thus, it remains the domain of visual artists.

male-9
The Male Figure rendered in planes

Drawing the ‘Laying Square’

Technical Perspective Continued

Last posting quickly outlined the principles of one point perspective.  The key points included:

  1. Every picture has a horizon
  2. An object’s relationship to the horizon creates the illusion of a perspectival view of the scene to the viewer
  3. The vanishing point is the point where a viewer’s sight is limited to

The previous posting used a simplified fir tree as the subject.  It is true that every picture has a horizon and involves the vanishing point, but it must be mentioned that natural phenomena, such as mountains, rivers, trees and bushes, are all very forgiving regarding perspective.  These forms are organic and do not involve straight lines, and furthermore, viewers will accept a very wide range of sizes and shapes in their representation.  This aspect of the inanimate, natural phenomena makes landscape painting and drawing much easier than works which involve architecture, humans or animals.  Traditionally, landscape painting has been considered the third lowest form of painting on account of the relative simplicity of the pursuit.

This posting will outline the fundamentals which lead to understanding how to draw geometric shapes in perspective.

As mentioned before, the initial step to drawing a geometric shape in perspective is mastering the ability to draw a perfect square, appearing as if it were laying flat on an imaginary surface.  This challenge is essential for revealing how an artist begins to create the illusion of space within a drawing.

Andrew Loomis does not break this task down for us, and many artists will be able to do this, merely with their eyes.  I personally find it very easy to draw a perfect square laying on an illusionary ground on any angle.  This is because I can visualize the correct placement and degree of the angles from the years of experience which I have integrated.

For the sake of the artists who do not find this easy, I have devised a simple method of finding the correct angles needed to draw a laying square from any position of perspective.

The Lesson

  • Draw a horizon, and keep it towards the top third of your paper.  Every drawing has a horizon.  perspective 1.jpg

 

  • This time, we will use 2 Vanishing Points.  Place them far apart.  Putting the V.P.’s too close together will create distortions in your perfect laying square.  The left hand V.P. will be “a”, the right hand V.P. will be “b”.perspective 2.jpg

 

  • Now, we draw a line at any angle from V.P. ‘a’, such that it crosses an imagined point between your two V.P.’s.  This line we will call the First Line.

perspective 3.jpg

 

  • Now we will repeat the previous step, but this time using a different angle of trajectory.  We will call this line, Second Line.perspective 4.jpg

 

  • Now, for the next step, we measure 3cm from V.P. ‘a’, down the horizon line.  This point we lightly mark for reference.perspective 5.jpg

 

  • Using the 3cm mark as the starting point, measure the distance to the First Line, in a perpendicular to the horizon.  This will create a right triangle between the horizon, the First Line and the perpendicular measured.  In my drawing, the distance happens to be 2.5 cm.  This is not a set measurement, and it will always be different depending on the angle which the First Line was drawn at.perspective 7.jpg

perspective 8.jpg

 

  • The next step is to duplicate those points with exact measurements starting with V.P. ‘b’.  This will create an equal, but reversed right triangle with V.P. ‘b’ as the first vertex. perspective 9.jpg

 

  • From V.P. ‘b’, draw the Third Line, using the newly drawn low vertex point as the angular guide. Draw this Third Line such that it crosses through the First and Second Lines.  The crossing points with the First and Second Lines we will call Crossing ‘x’ and Crossing ‘y’. perspective 10.jpg

 

  • Measure the distance between Crossing ‘x’ and Crossing ‘y’.  My drawing happens to be 4.6 cm.  This measurement is relative to the angles of the First and Third lines, and is therefore not a constant measurement.perspective 11.jpg

 

  • Now, we measure that same distance up the First Line, from Crossing ‘y’, towards V.P. ‘a’.  Mark the point.  Again, my measurement of 4.6 cm is particular to my drawing.perspective 12.jpg

 

  • Draw Fourth Line back from that point to V.P. ‘b’ to complete the perfect laying square.

perspective 13.jpg

 

A Quick Way

There is a quick way to skip essentially from step 2 to step 8, but it involves having a tool with a set 90 degree to trace from (such as a drafting triangle or a t-square).  I will outline it here for those with such tools.

  •  Draw horizon.  Choose vanishing points

quick 1.jpg

  • Measure length between the two V.P.’s, and half that number.  Measure that distance  over from one of the V.P.’s to find the mid point between them.

quick 2.jpg

  • Drop a 90 degree line down from the centre point, perpendicular to the horizon. Call this point the Centre Vertexquick 3.jpg
  • Draw First and Third Lines from that point to either V.P.’s.quick 4.jpg

 

Drawing the Second and Fourth lines will work the same way if you choose a point above or below the Centre Vertex to create different angles.

Conclusion

Now with a laying perfect square in perspective, it is a simple thing to draw the perfect cube from the groundwork we have lain.   We will complete this 3 Dimensional cube in the next posting.

 

Technical Perspective

Perspective an artist needs to know

Now begins the more technical aspect of Successful Drawing.  In the following postings, I will still begin with a short written section, but the meat of the post will consist of scanned images of my versions of Loomis’ drawings.  The drawings are direct copies of his works and lessons, and they were done to help me learn.  I encourage you to do the lessons as well, and draw the samples -even if you feel you understand the concept.  There is a truth revealed when you get actually down to drawing the exercises that is greater than an intellectual understanding only.

Loomis begins by encouraging us to be diligent and to practice.  He tells us frankly:

The difficulties of not knowing are always much greater than the effort of learning.

A note about supplies:

Loomis advises us to proceed in the following way:

Mark Making media:  He suggests that you use a pencil, but is quick to add that drawing is drawing in any medium, be it chalk, charcoal, crayons etc.  He says to select the one you like best, but to avoid hard media or inks, as well as to avoid overly dark pencils as they are hard to erase.

Erasers:  the kneaded eraser is best

Paper:  large pads of layout bond paper are mentioned, but he is not specific -it does not matter, as long as the paper is not too thin and transparent.

Loomis adds at this point that in terms of technical use of the pencil to avoid scratchy, small and thin-lined strokes.  He says such marks look amateurish and fussy.

In addition to the above mentioned, there is a need of a fairly large drawing table, a t-square and a right triangle in order to do the perspective exercises.

The Exercises

Since the  3 dimensional block is the primary shape everything fits into, Loomis begins with drawing the square.  Drawing a perfect square is the first step to learning how to draw form in perspective.

Exercise I: the perfect square

  1. A perfect square has each of its sides of equal length. Draw one.  To find the centre of a square or a rectangle, draw lines from opposing corners.  To divide the square into quarters, draw a horizontal and a perpendicular through the centre point which the diagonals have revealed.  From this many things will develop.bisecting squares.jpg
  2. To draw the 3-dimensional square in perspective (the cube) one must start by being able to draw the perfectly proportional square laying flat on an illusory plane created by the artist.  This is easily done, and uses 2 Point Perspective, but there are a few things you need to know before that.

Exercise II: creating the illusion of space

  • Looking at a blank paper is potential for space, but without anything for the viewer to comprehend, no illusion is created.  Furthermore, to attempt to create the illusion of space and to misapply these fundamental laws of perspective will alert a viewer’s Intelligent Perception of falsity.  Here is a blank paper and no illusion of space is apparent.                                                                                                                                                                       nothing.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  •  The addition of a simple horizon line is the first step to creating the sense of space.  Every drawing has a horizon whether the viewer can see it or not.  The horizon line could also be considered the point where the viewer’s eye level rests.

a horizon.jpg

  • If one adds a simple recognizable object such as a tree, the illusion of space is developed further.  By moving the trees closer to and further away from the horizon, the viewer’s eye level is changed by the artist. Changing the objects’ relation to the horizon gives the viewer the sense of flying above the trees or looking from below the trees.
  •  By making the trees smaller or larger, the artist creates the illusion of being nearer or further away from the subject matter.
  • The final step to creating realistic simple perspective is the addition of a Vanishing Point to the horizon line.  This point establishes where the artist wants the viewer  to be situated outside of the picture.  That is, when a Vanishing Point is properly used, the artist can show the viewer the desired perspective of his image

    The Vanishing Point (V.P.) represents the place where the viewer’s power of sight is limited to.  To understand the term ‘vanishing’, one must consider a scenario where a series of identical trees were lined up next to one another in a perfect row.  The closest tree would appear the biggest, and the furthest tree away would get so small, it would vanish.  The top and bottom lines drawn straight to the V.P. show how much smaller the artist needs to make the duplicate objects.  Without regarding the top and bottom height lines, the artist will fail to create the illusion of depth.  This is called One Point Perspective.

Now you are prepared for Two Point Perspective, which is the key to creating the 3-Dimensional cube, situated in space.

Perspective Continued

Being “Effective”

I just finished an interesting discussion with my brother Eryn.  Our discussions are varied and wide ranging, but a common topic which we return to is the idea of being effective.   Webster’s dictionary offers the following as its primary definition of effective:

producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect effective policy>

Cambridge Dictionary offers this definition:

producing the intended results, or (of a personskilled or able to do something well: an effective policy/strategy

The commonality between the two definitions is the idea of producing something specific well.  What is not included are the terms understood to categorize something as being ‘well done’ as opposed to something which is ‘poorly done’.  Those terms are not stated, but I believe that there are 2 fundamental traits within the concept ‘well done’ which are universal and therefore not subjective.  Here are the fundamental elements which are a part of all things termed as ‘well done’:

  1. The result objectively achieves that which was desired at the endeavour’s inception
  2. The result was achieved exclusively, without any secondary results which counteract  the original endeavour.

For instance, it cannot be said that when a baseball player is trying to hit a baseball, that he has been effective when he instead makes a strike;  he failed to achieve his primary objective of hitting the ball, thus he has not been effective in those terms.  This example covers the first of my two fundamental traits of ‘being effective’.

Secondarily, let us say that there is a trucker who is dispatched out to transport a load of eggs safely from the east coast to the west coast.  He sets out, and from prior experience knows that excessive speed causes bumps and jostling in his trailer.  To counteract this, he drives very slowly.  When he does reach the west coast, he has indeed achieved a safe transportation of the eggs.  Unfortunately, he is a week late, and many of the  eggs have spoiled on account of the time spent in transport.  It cannot be said that the trucker was effective at transporting the eggs because his method introduced two secondary and contrary results to the overall intent of the endeavour; transporting the eggs safely so they could be sold.  The transport of the eggs was not an end it itself as the trucker thought.  Indeed, the transport is a stage in a series of events, all of which need to be achieved.  The fact that the trucker brought the eggs 1 week late cost the merchant money, and the fact that some of the load were rotten makes their safe transport irrelevant.

This second of the two fundamental traits is the one most often evaded by people seeking to achieve an ends of some type.  The evasion occurs on account of their hope for success outweighing their objectivity.  In the end, these people can only save face by compromising the principles regarding any terms which should disqualify their effort as being effective.  As a result they say, ” ah well, it is good enough!”  without considering the long-term results of the equivocation.

Andrew Loomis 

The talk regarding being effective was meant to set out the groundwork for Loomis’ next major idea, which is being effective.

Loomis makes a very strong case for artists to free themselves from the need to use reference.  Although he acknowledges that the use of a model is the best way to achieve a realistic end in drawing, and that photographs are needed to reference particular information, he clearly states that too many artists attempt to work professionally without really knowing how perspective works, or how the human form is put together.  He indicates that the primary subject matter of the illustrator -the human form- is so multifarious and so pliant that to lack specific knowledge of it, forces an illustrator to rely on photo refs and other external sources of information in order to get by.  In addition, he states that to draw anything, one needs to understand the principles of how perspective works.

He accepts that the ends of such efforts may be achieved by compiling reference, but Andrew Loomis is not willing to consider that method to be effective.

Consider this excerpt from Successful Drawing (pg 22-24)

Suppose you were asked to draw a series of columns, spaced 10 feet apart, set on cubes measuring 5 feet each way, with some figures standing at the second and fifth columns, and the bases of eight columns going back in the distance.  This is very simple if you know perspective.  Which would take the most time, to hunt up such a building, take photographs, develop films, make prints, and set the assembly on a projector, or just to sit down and draw it?  Almost daily, lack of knowledge of simple perspective can hack away an artist’s time.  The amount of motion and time which you save by knowing how to solve your problems far exceeds any saving by the projector.  The more you lean on your crutches, the more your strength ebbs, and soon you cannot get along without them.

It should be evident to most people that to know something is better that to not know something, so then is it evident that integrating the principles of perspective is better than trying to guess at them, or to rely on reference.

In order to expand on this, Andrew Loomis indicates a few facts regarding drawing the human form from photos versus knowing how the form is put together, and working from your knowledge base.  He states that photographs do not make good drawings in that they impartially record the subject.  An artist who uses the photo as a reference risks the suspension of artistic judgement in place of the recording of anatomic detail and an obsession over its correct placement.  Loomis encourages us to be more concerned with geometric shapes present in the human form, and the activity of light and shadow rather than on any attempts at recording the tiny muscular bumps and lumps recorded in photographic reference of the human form.

He also cautions against the use of ‘swiping’ magazine models, and integrating them into one’s artwork.  He makes no evaluation of the artistic honesty of such practice, nor does he comment on copyright infringement.  Instead -ever practical- Loomis reminds us that most modern photography is taken under highly unreal conditions, using several light sources.  The visual language of the photo studio he says creates images which ‘…defy every principle of good drawing.  There is no authentic form in them; it has been broken up in meaningless light and shadow; and good drawing is essentially a statement of form.”

Perspective

 

Andrew Loomis preface

The books Andrew Loomis wrote are wonderful summations of his knowledge and his ideas.  They are also the preeminent folios of his beautiful drawings.  To hear my assessment of these collections, one might wonder why there is a need to author a blog entitled “Understanding Loomis”.  Let it be said then, that as an advocate for clear thinking and clear instruction, I believe that despite the quality of his books there still is room to finesse Andrew Loomis’ pedagogical methods.  Perhaps I am more slow-witted than others, but in several cases within the breadth of reading his writing, I was only able to grasp his point by carefully reading the text, drawing the exercise/example, then reading his text again.  The point being that reading his words and observing the pictures only constituted a very cursory understanding of his theory for me; I needed to break it down further to integrate the truth he is expressing.  To explain the theory and technique in written form for a third party helps clarify Loomis’ thoughts even more in my mind.  This then is the continued reason behind the project and my desire for fully “Understanding Loomis”.  In addition, I hope to illuminate my readers to the beauty of his reasoning mind, and the technical solutions he has outlined to achieve Successful Drawing.

Theory of Perspective, pages 20-29

(notes were originally taken by myself on Jan 7th, 2016)

The first major idea that Andrew Loomis covers is the common idea that everything we see and seek to draw can be broken down into geometric shapes; the block, the cone, the pyramid, the cylinder, the sphere and the torus.

(for those unfamiliar with the final shape called the torus, here is an image of one)

Simple_Torus.svg.png

He further expands this point by showing how the various and complicated forms  in nature are really only elaborations of the overarching basic shape, the block.  It is important to recognize that Loomis does not call the primary shape the cube -his term ‘block’ constitutes cubes as well as rectangular prisms of all shapes; it is a more basal term.  He adds that a block is to be considered the main shape because even a perfect sphere fits within a cubular block, thus the block form can be used as a shorthand for all the others.  He states: ” The cube or block may be thought of as the box that will fit around anything in the universe.”

This is where Loomis really gets cooking.  Following this point, he goes on to aim at the heart of one of the most trouble-inducing elements of drawing,  figure ground relationship with relative proportion.

Loomis confidently states that the challenge is actually one which is easily met, even though many experienced illustrators and artists fail to achieve it.  Furthermore, when one considers Loomis’ theory of “Intelligent Perception”, the fact that everyman can plainly see an error in figure/ground relationship, a need to sort this problem out shows as a paramount concern.

Following this he indicates that using the geometric shape as a starting point is more than a method of establishing form, it is also an essential way to comprehend how light and shadow effects form. Using geometric shapes establishes an understandable mass to the subject in our mind, so we are commonly able to visualize the back and the sides of the subject which are hidden from view.

The way which light falls on the geometric shapes is predictable and simple to memorize.  There is a Truth in the correct modelling of light and shadow on a shape which ‘Intelligent Perception’ knows.  The modelling reenforces the form, as each are interchangeable partners; form and modelling, modelling and form.

On the other hand, the absence of correct modelling (and therefore the absence of correct form) presents a problem so profound that no amount of technical panache or random hatching and texturing can correct it.  In this Loomis is in agreement with another favourite illustrator of mine, John Buscema.

I have read somewhere Buscema stating that other comic artists who added unnecessary lines and creases on a face were in fact attempting to make up for an incorrect placement of the features, a basic mistake which they couldn’t recognize.  In your own personal study of art, and especially drawing, I encourage you to look out for this.  When your ‘Intelligent Perception’ alarm is going off, take a quick look to see if the drawing is overly cluttered with detail.  An ‘open’ drawing has nothing to hide behind, and when the artist simply places the features correctly, the viewer will be satisfied.