This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
This plate is an example of the Byzantine acanthus on a fragment in the Capitoline Museum. In drawing this, place the central axis or main rib of the leaf first, then establish the position of the eyes-the egg-shaped cuts which separate the lobes. The general contour of the lobes and their main ribs should next be blocked in before the final disposition of the points or leaflets is determined.
Section Through Center. PLATE VII. Acanthus Rosette.
PLATE VIII. Acanthus Frieze.
PLATE IX. This is also to be drawn as Fig. 1, Plate X. Byzantine Acanthus, from a fragment in the Capitoline Museum.
The drawing of this plate is to be enlarged to about ten inches in height and well placed on the sheet with the center of the drawing coinciding with the center of the plate. This drawing is to be made by the use of two values only, with white, and the student may select his own values. The object is to select the most important features and to omit as much as possible. It would be well for the student to first try to see how much he can express with one value and white. The values are to be obtained by upright lines. Outlines are to be omitted as far as possible in the finished sketch and forms are to be expressed by the shapes of the masses of shadow. Where only two values and white are to be used, it is desirable to leave as much white as possible and not allow the shadow values to run too near to black as that produces too harsh a contrast with the white. On the other hand, if the shadow values are too high in the scale, that is too near white, the drawing becomes weak and washed out in effect. As this drawing is to be large in scale, it should be made with the solid ink pencil and with wide pencil strokes. After the outline has been sketched in, the shading or "rendering" may be studied, first on tracing paper over the drawing. There should be no attempt at rendering the background in this drawing.
Figs. 1 and 2 are to be placed on this plate, but Fig. 1 is to be rendered this time as near to the true values as it is possible to go by using four values and white in shading. The pencil lines should be blended together somewhat, but the general direction of the shading should follow the central axis of the lobes. Only the leaf itself is to be drawn and the background value should be allowed to break in an irregular line about the leaf. It should not be carried out to an edge which would represent the shape of the entire fragment of stone on which the leaf is carved. In studying the shapes of the different shadows it is well at first to exaggerate somewhat and give each value a clean, definite shape even if the edges appear somewhat indefinite in the original. At the last those edges which are blurred may be blended together.
Fig. 2 is a Byzantine capital from the church of San Vitale, at Ravenna. This is to be drawn so that the lines of the column shall fade off' gradually into nothing and end in a broken edge instead of stopping on a horizontal line as in the original. The top of the drawing above the great cushion which rests on the capital proper should also fade off into nothing and with a broken line instead of the horizontal straight line. A small broken area of the background value should be placed either side of the capital. In drawing an object like this which is full of small detail there is danger of losing the larger qualities of solidity and roundness by insisting too much upon the small parts and there is also danger of making the drawing too spotty. It is a good principle to decide at first that the detail is to be expressed either in the shadow or in the light, but not equally in both. This principle is based on one of the facts of vision, for in looking at an object one sees only a comparatively small amount of detail; what falls on either side of the spot on which the eye is focused appears blurred and indistinct. In an object of this kind whose section is circular, one can best express the shape by concentrating the study of detail at the point where the light leaves off and shadow begins, representing less and less detail as the object turns away from the spectator. In this drawing, however, there may be more detail expressed in the shadow than in the light, but remember that outlines of objects in shadow lose their sharpness and become softened. Do not attempt to show all the grooves in the parts in shadow; indicate one or two principal ones and indicate more and more detail as the leaves approach the point where the light begins. There the richness of detail may be fully represented, but as the forms pass into the light, omit more and more detail. Again observe that any small plane of shadow surrounded by intense light, if examined in detail, appears darker by contrast, but if represented as dark as it appears it becomes spotty and out of value. If observed in relation to the whole object its real value will be seen to be lighter than it appears when examined by itself. Use white and four values to be determined by the student. Guard against too strong contrasts of values within the shadow as it cuts it up and destroys its unity, and in every drawing made, show clearly just which is the shadow side and which is the light. That is, do not place so many shadow values within the light that it destroys it, and do not invade shadows with too many lights and reflected lights. Note that it is characteristic of the Byzantine acanthus to have the points of every tine or lobe touch something; no points are left free, but observe also that the points have some substance and width at the place they touch and must not be represented l>v a mere thread of light. It would be a mistake to introduce much variety of direction in the lines in this drawing, especially in the shadows, as it would " break it up" too much. The concave line of the contour of the capital may well determine the dominant direction of the lines which should not be very distinct as lines, but should blend considerably into general tones. Wherever a plane of shadow stops with a clean sharp edge the drawing must correspond, for its interest and expressiveness depend upon its power to suggest differences in surface-those surfaces which flow gradually into one another as well as those in which the transitions are sharp and abrupt.
The student should be very scrupulous about using only the values of the scale, and in the lower left corner of each sheet he should place within half-inch squares examples of each value used on the drawing with its name and symbol indicated.
The foliated portions consist of olive acanthus, and the student should carefully study the differences between this and the soft acanthus. It will be noted that the greatest difference is in the subdivision of the edges into leaflets. In the soft acanthus there is always a strong contrast of large and small leaflets and the lobes overlap each other, producing a full rich effect and the general appearance is more like that of a natural leaf. In the olive acanthus the leaflets in one lobe differ slightly from each other in size, are narrower, and bounded by simple curves on either side, where the leaflet of the soft acanthus has the compound curve on one side.
The student may use as many values as he thinks necessary, but he should be conscientious in keeping his values in their scale relations and should place an example of each value used, with its name in one corner of the drawing.
To make a satisfactory drawing of a form so full of intricate detail as this is difficult, as there is a great temptation to put in all one sees. The general instructions for drawing Plate VII are equally applicable here. The student should remember that a drawing is an explanation, but an explanation which can take much for granted.
PLATE X. FIG. 2. Byzantine Capital, from the Church of San Vitale Ravenna.
PLATE XI. Roman Corinthian Capital, from the Baths of Diocletian.
PLATE XII. Italian Renaissance Pilaster.
For instance, if the carved ornament on the mouldings or at the top of the capital are expressed where they receive full light, they must become more and more vague suggestions and finally disappear in the strong shadows; so the division line between the two mouldings of the abacus may be omitted in shadow and the mind will fill in what the eye does not see. One could go farther and express the detail only for a short space, letting it gradually die away into light or be merely indicated by a line or two, and still the explanation would be sufficient and far less fatiguing to the eye than literal insistence on every detail for the entire length. It is an excellent plan to look at the original, whether a photograph or the real object, with half closed eyes. This helps decidedly to separate the light masses from the darks and shows how much that is in shadow may be omitted.
The smaller lobes on the olive acanthus have no main ribs and lines are carried from the intersection of each leaf toward the base, the section of the leaflet being concave. The section of the leaflets on the soft acanthus is more V-shaped.
This is a portion of a pilaster decoration in the Italian Renaissance style. The acanthus is of the soft Roman type, but much more thin and delicate with the eyes cut back almost to the main ribs and a space cut out between each lobe so there is rarely any overlapping of lobes. Lay out construction lines for the scrolls, block in all forms correctly, detailing little by little, so carrying the whole drawing along to the same degree of finish
A TYPICAL PERSPECTIVE DRAWING.
(Rendered in Pen and Ink.)