• 2021-06-20 - Rendering in pen & ink

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Logs > Art Log

I've recently started reading through "Rendering in pen and ink" by Arthur Guptill, which I found through The Draftsmen podcast. I think I'm learning a fair bit from it, but mostly through trying to copy examples and trying to apply the same methods on drawings from life. The text itself is a bit dated at times, so I've found myself skimming a bit. Nonetheless, the text is still full of gems and I am enjoying looking at the examples quite a bit.

One example gem - value scales. I hadn't really been thinking about value scales despite learning about them in the Dunn exercise book I finished recently.

As in the sketch posted below, while I was drawing our rental car for the weekend, I wasn't even thinking about the background behind the car, and how it could play in to creating a value scale. I was above all, focused on getting the boxy shapes and outlines of the car done (in pencil). Only once I started inking the darkest parts of the car did I ask myself "how am I going to convey the beige parts of the car? (which is most of it, except what was in shadow!). I had forgotten that the car was parked against a tall hedge, and for which I had to stop inking, and say aloud to my partner "The green of the hedge is darker than the beige of the car". It sounds so simple, but I had completely forgotten about that.

As Guptill refers to in his section on Outline, a child often will draw entirely in outlines. I realized that I still do this! Once I stopped and looked at some of the examples in the book, it really clicked that the background of an item was actually what might be defining the edge or "outline" of an object.

...we mentioned that actual objects have no true outlines, no definite edges or profiles bounding them that appear as lines. We see one object as distinct from others only because it is lighter or darker, or of a different color, or has shade or shadow tones upon it or about it, or other effects of illumination that define it or detach it from its surroundings.


...it is fair to say that the outline offers the easiest and most natural form of pictorial delineation. If proof of this is needed, study the drawings of children. Even very young children express themselves naturally in outline, as have primitive people in widely scattered portions of the world. The sketches in Fig. 53 further exemplify this. They were drawn by a child of four.”

87 - 88.

Until now, the idea of representing the border of something by creating a distinguishing background was off my radar. I have just always been so focused on the object I am trying to capture, that I don't think about how a background - even a few lines of hatching - can be used to create boundaries, and thus also demonstrate a value range on a form (and thus making it less two dimensional!). And of course, the posted photo above shows I've gotten quite into hatching backgrounds (I must be making up for lost time...)