Placement

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Placement is the arrangement of pictorial elements within the picture frame. It is not merely the placement of the figure; rather, it is the placement of all elements of drawing. The elements of drawing are what make up a picture; they include points, lines, shapes, and forms.

Points

The smallest mark an artist can make and thus the smallest design element is the point. Some drawings, such as stipple drawings, are made up of nothing but points. A stipple drawing is usually drawn in ink on paper. The drawing consists of dots of ink that can vary in size and distance from each other to make up shades of light and dark. Figure 6.2 shows an example of a stipple drawing.

Lines

When a point becomes longer in any one direction, it is no longer a point and becomes a line. The line is the most common and versatile drawing element. Lines can be used to indicate areas, show depth, lead the viewer, delineate edges, define detail, and depict value.

Lines are more expressive than points because they have direction and they can vary in weight. Look at the example in Figure 6.3. Notice that there are three drawing elements. The first is a point, the second is a line, and the third is a line that varies in weight. Can you see how the line is more expressive than the point, and the line with variation in weight is more expressive than just a simple line?

Drawing Made Dots

Figure 6.2 Stipple drawings are made up of many tiny dots.

Figure 6.3 Adding variation in weight can make a line more expressive.

Varying the weight of a line is often called using thick and thin lines in art. The technique of drawing with thick and thin lines is most often used in pen and ink drawings. The basic idea of varying the weight of a line for compositional purposes is that a heavier line emphasizes that part of the line and thus that part of the drawing. Figure 6.4 is a line drawing of a character using thick and thin lines. Notice how the thick and thin lines add a more dramatic feel to the drawing. Also notice how the thicker areas of the lines in the drawing add weight to emphasize that area.

Figure 6.4 Adding variation in weight can give a line more emphasis.

Beginning artists often ask the question of what lines should be thicker and what lines should be thinner. Although there is not hard rule about thick and thin lines, there are a few general rules that might help.

^ Contrast. Thick lines have more contrast with the white of the paper than thin lines do. Thick lines around a specific area of your drawing will draw more attention to that area. I wanted the viewer to look first at the character's head, so I gave that area of the drawing more contrast, as shown in Figure 6.5.

^ Movement. Variation in the weight of a line tends to cause the eye to move from the narrower area of the line to the thicker area. By placing lines in a drawing that vary in thickness over their length, the artist can orchestrate the way a person looks at the picture. Think of it in terms of creating a racetrack in which the lines are the track. In Figure 6.6, there is a sense of movement in the character's hat.

Figure 6.6 The viewer's eye tends to follow the lines in a drawing.

Figure 6.5 Use thicker lines in areas of emphasis.

Figure 6.4 Adding variation in weight can give a line more emphasis.

^ Curves. Lines going around an arc tend to look better if the line is thicker as it swings around the curve. Going back to our analogy of the racetrack, motion tends to slow in a curve. By adding width to a line in a curve, you give more space for swinging around the curve, making the curve easier to follow with the eye. In the curves on the character's shoulder shown in Figure 6.7, the lines are thicker, making the curve easier to follow.

^ Tapered ends. Abrupt endings cause harsh stops in a drawing. It is much easier for the eye to begin and end at a tapered point. Figure 6.8 shows several lines in the drawing that begin or end in tapered points.

Figure 6.8 A tapered end is easier for the eye to begin and end.

Figure 6.7 Adding weight to curves makes them easier to follow.

^ Corners. Sharp corners are abrupt changes of direction. They can happen in the course of a line or when two or more lines meet. Adding more weight to the lines at a corner helps keep the viewer's eyes on the drawing. The corner then acts as a launch pad for the eyes to move in a different direction. Figure 6.9 shows where the corners of the character's pants cause abrupt changes in direction.

Figure 6.7 Adding weight to curves makes them easier to follow.

Figure 6.9 A heavy corner can make an abrupt change in direction more natural.

This list does not cover every aspect of using thick and thin lines, but hopefully it will give you a start. One of the wonderful aspects of art is taking basic concepts and exploring new applications.

Lines are the building blocks of most drawings. Using lines, the artist can define almost anything. When it comes to composition, one of the most important things that lines define is shape.

Shapes

A shape is a defined area in a drawing. For example, Figure 6.10 shows the familiar shape of a heart. The shape is composed of two lines, but the meaning of the shape goes way beyond just the two lines because the shape is also a symbol.

Imagens Cora
Figure 6.10 Some shapes have symbolic meaning.

Not all shapes have symbolic meaning, but the fact that they can have meaning beyond a mark on a piece of paper shows an important distinction between a shape and a line.

As you approach creating a figure drawing, try to look beyond the figure and look at the entire picture as a set of shapes. Sometimes looking at the silhouette of shapes in a picture helps define them. Figure 6.11 shows the silhouette of a figure.

Man Silhouette
Figure 6.11 The figure is a shape in the drawing.

The figure is a shape because it is a defined area in the drawing. Understanding the shapes in your drawings will help you develop good compositions. For example, here there are three basic shapes— a square, a circle, and a heart. One or more lines define each shape.

The quality and placement of the lines not only define the shapes, they also define the picture. The picture is somewhat static because all of the lines are similar in weight and spacing. The shapes also are of equal size and centered on the paper.

By adjusting some of the drawing elements, you can see how the dynamics of the picture can change. In Figure 6.13, the shape of the circle was enlarged and the other two shapes were reduced. The circle is now the dominant shape. The dominant position of the circle is also enhanced by the fact that it is in the center of the picture.

In Figure 6.14, the circle is moved to the side but the weight of the line is heavier, so even though it is not central, it is still dominant because of the heavier line.

Figure 6.12 The picture contains three basic shapes.
Figure 6.13 The circle is the dominant shape in the drawing.
Figure 6.14 The circle is dominant in both size and line weight.

Another method of emphasizing a shape is to have it overlap other shapes, as shown in Figure 6.15. The overlapping helps to increase the importance of the top shape and diminish the importance of the other two shapes.

One aspect of a shape is the fact that by defining a shape in a drawing, you also define others shapes. Notice that in the last picture there are three overlapping shapes, but there is also the shape of the surrounding area of the picture. The areas defined outside the pictorial shapes in a drawing are often referred to by artists as negative shapes. Figure 6.16 shows the negative shape in white.

Figure 6.16 The negative shape surrounds the other shapes in the picture.

Negatives shapes are very important in a composition. If they are organized correctly, they can have a big impact on the success of your drawing. For example, Figure 6.17 shows a group of negative and positive shapes.

When the shapes are put together in the correct organization, the negative shapes carry the message of the drawing, as shown in Figure 6.18.

The way you place pictorial elements can have a big effect on the quality of your composition. When placing shapes in a drawing, there are a few things that you should avoid, such as monotony, tangents, and unwanted inclusion.

Figure 6.18 When organized, the negative shapes spell the words negative shapes.

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