Variable Perspectival Spaces within a Single Block

On page 43 of Successful Drawing, Andrew Loomis shows a very useful mechanic for artists to know in order to convincingly draw architectural details or features on mechanical objects in perspective.  This example demonstrates how to project a sequence of repeating sections, found within a whole, using a vertical and a horizontal scale. This is similar to previous lessons, but it expands the skill set so that the artist can draw repeating sections which are varied in sequence.  For example, imagine a condominium building in perspective.  The viewer can see the front of the building going off down the block.  This viewed side features a set of 4 windows, followed by  a portico with a double entryway in the middle, then another set of 4 windows.  Each of the openings of the windows need to be identical in size; but naturally, of a different dimension than the portico, which again is different than the two sets of double doors within.  This then is an example of Variable Perspective Space, Within a Single Block.

Let us begin.

Suppose you are an illustrator, and you are asked to draw the Egyptian temples at Abu Simbel.  Let us say that you are drawing the small temple, and you have (for whatever reason) a restriction as to the perspective you must use.  You search through the internet for reference, and let us say that there is nothing in the correct perspective which you need.  Short of traveling to Nubia, you cannot get a reference shot of the correct perspective.  This is how it is done.

Here is the small temple at Abu Simbeltumblr_nrqdlqhwMT1tkairwo1_1280

  1. Lay out the image in the angle you want, establishing the horizon and the perspective which you need to draw the site at.  This can be done with any angle of perspective that you wish.  2
  2. At the wide edge, establish the vertical and horizontal planes which will be used as your measuring lines.  (see last posting for further use of the horizontal and vertical lines as measurement guides)3
  3. Mark the VP and a new point, called the Measuring Point, just to the left or the right of the vertical scale.  The MP can be on either side, but it must be close to the vertical line.real4
  4. Now, looking at the reference shot of Abu Simbel, one can see that there are 5 different sections in the sequence of Variable Spaces.  They are as follows:
    • Green Bracket: we will call these the FRAMES
    • Red Bracket:  we will call these the NICHES
    • White Bracket: we will call this the PORTICO
    • Purple Bracket: we will call these the JAMBS
    • Blue Bracket: we will call this the DOORWAY5spaces
  5. Now, estimate the ratio of widths between the 5 spatial elements in the picture.  For simplicity, let us say that the Frames to Niches are a 1:2 ratio in width, and the Jambs to Frames are also 1:2.  (this means that the Niches are DOUBLE as wide as the Frames.  So too is the relationship between the Jambs to the Frames; the Frames are DOUBLE as wide as the Jambs).  Let us say the Jambs to the Doorway is 1:1.75.   Once you have established a ratio of the sizes by eye, decide upon a base unit for the Frames (since most of the ratios refer to these). We shall say the Frames are 2 cm.  Thus each section width is as follows:
    • Frames: 2cm
    • Niches: 4cm
    • Portico: 3.75cm (two jambs + doorway)
    • Jambs: 1cm
    • Doorway: 1.75cm
  6. Starting at the (0,0) point on the Vertical and Horizontal scale lines, lay out the measurements in the order that the sequence appears on the reference.  The full sequence is not measured in this example, in order to accommodate the size of the image, and readability.  In reality, one must layout the entire sequence on the horizontal Measuring Line.real5
  7. Through the points on the Horizontal Measuring Line, cast new lines of measurement to the MP (Measuring Point)6real
  8. The points where the cyan coloured Measuring Lines cross the bottom Perspectival Line will be the Variable Spaces on the monument, projected into perspective.  A secondary (red) line of perspective is cast to accommodate for the sloping nature of the temple’s face, i.e. it is not 90°. 8
  9. Erase the guidelines and the new temple is drawn in the new perspective. Finish it to the level of detail that you desire.1inal

In closing, I would like to apologize for not posting this on Sunday as per usual.  I hope you are able to use this technique of projecting Variable Spaces within a Single Block.  I also hope to see you next week.

Drawing To Scale

It is amazing how much information Andrew Loomis packs into each of the pages of his books.  His method of instruction is to constantly expand the uses of techniques outlined on previous pages.  In so doing, he also expands the learner’s set of drawing mechanics in a straightforward way.  For example, on page 39 of Successful Drawing, the method of depth by diagonal is elaborated upon, and here Loomis shows the reader how to use the technique in order to execute a scale drawing.  He says:

Every artist should know how to draw to a scale.  Scale drawings require the division of vertical and horizontal planes into square feet or square units. 

Let us then examine the method.

  1. We must first establish a vertical and horizontal measuring line, like an X and Y axis, where the lines touch at right angles at point zero.  Both lines must have equal division of unit, which represent feet in the drawing. The size of the unit which you use is done by eye.  A horizon line is established and the measuring lines are placed upon the scene.1
  2. From each of the ends of the measuring lines, and from point zero, lines are drawn to the VP.  Set the VP where you want by eye.2
  3. Now, a fourth Line of Perspective is cast to the VP, this time from the mid point (at the 5) of the vertical line.  This line is represented as a black and white dotted line in the example below.  We shall call this line the Halfway Line.3
  4. Next, gauge by eye the optional depth of the first foot of measurement along the low Line of Perspective going from the zero point to the VP.  4
  5. When the first unit is established, cast a Line of Perspective from point one on the vertical scale (yellow checker in this sample), as well as a second vertical line at the point where the first unit terminates (red checker in this sample).  This first square unit will represent one foot. 5
  6. Ascending diagonally from the  low near corner (point 0, 0), cast a diagonal measurement line (cyan coloured in this sample). Make sure it crosses exactly through the upper furthest corner of the first square foot.6
  7. Where this diagonal measurement line (cyan coloured) crosses the top Line of Perspective, draw another vertical down to the bottom Line of Perspective.  This is 10 feet deep into the image from point 0,0.  Cast Lines of Perspective (yellow here) from each remaining vertical measurement points to the VP.  Where the  diagonal (cyan coloured) measurement line crosses the many interior Lines of Perspective (yellow), additional vertical lines are drawn.  These represent 1 foot sections receding into the distance.8
  8. Next, draw horizontal lines on the horizontal plane, each at 90 degrees from every incremental foot measurement determined in step 7.  This divides the ground plane also into ten 1-foot sections in perspective. 9
  9. As in last week’s posting, cast a descending diagonal line from the top near corner of the vertical plane, crossing through the far mid point delineated by the Halfway Line (black and white line) on the plane.  This shows where the next ten foot wide plane will terminate.  10
  10. Draw the vertical for the twenty foot mark, and then diagonally bisect this new plane, from corner to corner (purple diagonal in this sample).  Where that diagonal line crosses the Halfway Line is the centre of the second vertical plane.   12
  11. At the centre point where the newly drawn diagonal (purple diagonal in this) crosses the Halfway Line, draw a new vertical.  This will show the point of 15 feet in depth, as it is exactly between the 10 foot and 20 foot markers. 13
  12. Repeat this process of descending diagonals from upper near corner through the Halfway Line, and ascending from corner to corner to determine as much depth as needed.  Each line that descends from top corner through the Halfway Line shows us 10 more feet in depth.  15
  13. Now suppose we were asked to place these two men of different heights, on the field 20 feet away from each other.  Furthermore, we want to place two Greek columns of equal height also on the plain, 30 feet away from each other.  We want to place the tall black man beneath the near column, and the short white man 20 feet behind, and 9.5 feet over to the left of the black man .  The black man is 6 feet tall, the white man is 5 feet tall, and the columns are 10 feet tall.  Frontier
  14. With this method of Drawing to Scale, the task is simple.16
  15. Erase the guide lines and add some shadows, and the task is complete.  Notice how the short white man looks proportionately still like a short guy -even way back in the field.  Because the perspective is correct, and our Intelligent Perception is so fine tuned to seeing people in distances, we can tell he is a small man even though he is not standing directly beside any reference point.  This is the power of perspective.  17

Thank you for reading this week’s posting.  I hope you will subscribe and learn more about Andrew Loomis by keeping up with this blog.

A More Precise Method

Previously in Understanding Loomis, I have shown several ways of determining depth by diagonals.  The method explained today is another method of finding depth by diagonal, but this one is a more accurate method than those previously covered.  Today’s method should be used when the illustrator is seeking to draw to scale; i.e. when he must divide the vertical and horizontal planes into square units for measurement in perspective.  The previously outlined methods are fine when the illustrator is seeking to represent visually realistic perspective, but when mathematical precision is necessary -as in the cases of scale drawings-  a more precise method is needed.

Today’s post will explain the method of laying out the precise division of vertical planes.  How this is used in the creation of scale drawings will be covered in the next posting.

  1. First establish the horizon and the V.P. for the first plane.  Cast perspective lines back from the VP to establish the height of the plane.  Determine height by eye.2 precise
  2. Establish the First Unit depth also by eye. This establishes a Base Unit Plane, which will be cloned in perspective.  Next, cast a new line from the centre point on the nearest edge of the Base Unit Plane to the VP.  This will bisect the plane perfectly in half.  We shall call this new line the Middle Line. 3 precise
  3. When the first unit is established, it is cloned by using diagonals.  Create a Vertical Line by bisecting the horizon at the original VP.  Make certain to draw the Vertical Line long enough to accommodate the diagonals which you will draw in the next step.  4 precise
  4.  Cast the first diagonal (green in this example) from the near bottom corner through the far top corner to the Vertical Line (the pink line in this example).  At the place where the (green) diagonal line crosses the (pink) vertical, make a secondary VP5 precise
  5. This step is where the method tightens up the measurement.  Cast a downward diagonal (yellow in this example) from the top near corner of the plane, through the point where the bisecting Middle Line (from step 2) crosses the midpoint on the far edge of the plane.  This line does not go corner to corner. Extend this downward diagonal far enough for it to meet the (pink) Vertical Line.  Mark a tertiary VP at the low crossing point.  6 precise
  6. Again, as in step 4, cast a new ascending  diagonal from the next bottom corner (where the next plane will be) up to the secondary VP marked on the Vertical Line in step 4.7 precise
  7. Where the ascending diagonal (green) and the descending diagonal (yellow) both cross the original perspective lines (red), draw a vertical line to indicate the depth of the second plane.  This will be a more accurate representation of the First Unit Plane’s width in perspective, than that which was shown in previous postings. 8 precise
  8. Repeat the procedure by casting ascending lines corner to corner, and descending lines from corner through the Centre Line to establish the further planar depths. 9 precise
  9. Erase the guide lines to reveal the four planes receding into the distance, with more precise perspectival depth.10 precise

Conclusion

Readers will have noticed that with the introduction of a secondary guiding point, i.e. the bisecting Middle Line, the illusion of correct perspective is tightened.  For the sake of interest, compare the planes of today’s post with the divisions of depth created with the earlier methods in previous postings.  You will be able to see the subtle difference by eye, and how this method creates a more accurate representation of repeating planar depth in perspective.  This is especially true in the perspectival plane sections which are shown far off in distance.  The previous methods tend to shorten the depth incrementally, such that the distant planar sections become much too close together.

Next week, we will investigate how to use this method of depth by diagonal to set up for the creating of scale drawings.

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.

 

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 ‘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.”

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”

Loomis-5-c's.jpg

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.

The 5 Elements of Good Drawing

Fundamentals continued…

pages 11-13

There is a great deal of fabulous information in the text of Andrew Loomis’ books, and those who jump straight to his wonderful drawings without taking the time to read his words miss a lot.

Following the general talk about what makes artwork appealing, including his theory of intelligent perception, Andrew Loomis begins to talk in earnest about the actual elements of good drawing, though he is still maintaining a philosophic position at this point; the actual technical instruction, and ‘how-to’ section of the book is yet to come.

Here, Loomis introduces the reader to the key elements which are necessary to create a convincing piece of representational art.  He boils the elements down to 5, and emphasizes that they are the essential frameworks for the conception of a drawing.  What he means by conception is none other than the successful expression of an artist’s sense of life.

He creates an elegant method of recalling the 5 elements, in that he establishes 5 terms which all begin with the letter ‘P’.  The terms become known as the Five P’s.

Here they are:

  1. When one considers the drawing of any subject, it must be noted that all objects are dimensional; that they have height, breadth and thickness.  Furthermore, there is a ratio between these dimensions, and when those ratios add up in a drawing we have a convincing representation.  A drawing cannot be good when the ratios are not proportional, so the first element is PROPORTION.
  2. Every drawing is a puzzle, and choosing where to place subjects within the boundaries of the paper’s edge constitutes the consideration of  the second element which is PLACEMENT.  
  3. All drawing needs to be related to an horizon.  When an artist does this correctly, he is engaging in the technique of drawing called PERSPECTIVE.
  4. Everything we can perceive with our sense of sight is made possible by the degree of light which falls on it.  Where there is light, there is shadow, and in order to understand how to render light, the artist can break an object into PLANES.
  5. The placement of an object constitutes only half of the visual puzzle, the other half is related to the lights and darks and the textures .  When an artist considers the working out of these factors, he is considering PATTERN.  Pattern is to tonal areas as placement is to line work.

Loomis-5-p's

 

Following his outlining of the Five P’s, Loomis advocates for the drawing of thumbnails, where the elements which he has given us are to be worked out over the course of multiple sketches.

He is also quick to state that these Five Elements are not the only elements needed for good drawing.  How does one learn these additional elements of good drawing?

Do not worry dear reader, Andrew Loomis brings them into our aquaintence in the following section.