It should be understood that the appearance of a cast will vary greatly under different lighting conditions, and at various times of the day, for even though north light is used it will be more or less changeable from time to time. Therefore it is best to work for only an hour or two daily until the drawing is finished, these hours being in the morning, for example, or in the afternoon. For the light is usually about the same for a few hours in succession at any given time of day, dark or rainy days being, of course, exceptions.
We have explained before that the darkest tone on light objects is usually lighter than the darkest tone on dark objects, though, strange to say, it does not often appear so, therefore even though the cast is light, its deeper tones will seem quite dark in contrast with those areas receiving their illumination more directly.
In the first problems it is usually best to work in full values with a fairly sharp pencil, completing each drawing with the greatest care, modelling until the nearer parts seem to come forward, and the farther portions retreat, subordinating the unimportant, but emphasizing the essentials. Caution must be used not to force those darks too strongly which are found in the lighter areas or the lights within the shade tones; instead simplicity should be sought just as in object drawing, all unimportant tones being suppressed. Figure 11 is an example of cast drawing in full values of light and shade.
In later problems separate lines may be used in building up the tones; in fact there is no harm in experimenting in various ways of working, trying out any ideas which suggest themselves. The architectural student can perhaps improve his draftsmanship if he does a few cast drawings on tracing paper, mainly in accented outline or entirely so if he wishes, using a rather clean-cut line which is suitable for blue-printing; in fact, prints may be made of each drawing when completed. Such work trains one to make better scale or full-size details of ornament and the like. It is helpful also for one to occasionally select some cast of an architectural subject and instead of drawing it in perspective just as it appears, to make instead an elevation of it (using instruments, perhaps, for some of the straight lines) and a section or two or a side elevation, all so drawn as to correctly express the form and modelling of the object. These drawings may be shaded or left in outline.
On page 20 is a drawing of ornament in accented outline only, while at the top of page 37 parallel strokes of shading are combined with accented outline effectively. The drawing at the bottom of the same page has strokes of shading following the lines of growth.
Casts based on the human figure seem more difficult to the average beginner than do those of ornament, and like them should be most carefully drawn, painstaking effort being expended on every part. For the first portrait drawings such casts should be selected as show the greatest amount of individuality; those which have certain marked peculiarities which can be clearly grasped and represented. Study the various planes of light and shade and shadow as to form and value, giving particular attention to the edges of the planes, sharpening them or softening them truthfully. As the values are being built up it is often well to over-accent or force such edges a bit, as this will help one to retain the virility and strength expressed in the cast. The reason for so doing is to safeguard the student against having everything too soft and round, a common failing of the beginner. In giving a drawing its final touches, edges which have been made too sharp must of course be lifted or softened until they become less definite.
In portrait work we have a real test of skill. One may make errors when sketching an old hat or shoe and they may not be conspicuous, - even in ornament drawings mistakes are not always evident when the work is completed. But when one does a portrait, whether from photograph or cast or life, unless proportions and modelling are true there will not be a perfect likeness and unless a student is able to get a likeness he knows that his drawing is faulty. If a good likeness is lacking the drawing should be compared frequently with the original and corrected and changed until the desired effect is gained and the modelling brought to as near perfection as is possible. This work from cast should never be hurried over or neglected, for one cannot hope to cope with the difficulties of drawing from the living model until skill has been acquired in representing well that which has no disturbing hues of color and which holds a steady position.
When one has acquired considerable skill in working on white surfaces, tinted paper may be tried, the tone of the paper representing the middle values, the lights being added with white pencil or chalk or paint, and the darks built up with pencil. Such sketches are often very effective and results may be obtained quite quickly in this way, but one should not neglect the painstaking studies on white paper in order to make time for this sort of thing. Aside from all the other advantages which careful work has, it prepares one for work in other mediums; it is an easy step from pencil to wash and from wash to color, while pen drawing is much like the line shading which is often done with the pencil. The architectural student is called upon to render much ornament in wash, such as the details used in the Class B Analytique problems in the course of the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, and in renderings of a competitive nature done in the offices, and the making of carefully shaded drawings from the cast will prepare one directly for this class of work.
Now by way of a final suggestion, it should be made clear that unless a student really has unusual ability he should not attempt this advanced work without a competent instructor, and any student, regardless of his ability, should get criticism from others from time to time, for even though one may develop by himself tricks of technique and a certain cleverness of handling, such things do not offset faulty drawing, although they may hide it from the student himself. Now we will pass on to a consideration of life drawing, not without admonishing the student, however, to attempt no work from life until his skill warrants it; remembering that unless one can draw a good likeness from the cast he surely cannot do so from the living model.
Courtesy of Pratt Institute.
Courtesy of Pratt Institute.
W. A. Kendall.
Ornament Drawings By Students At Pratt Institute.
Pencil Study By Jules Guerin For One Of The Figures In His Mural Decorations In The Lincoln Memorial. Washington, D. C. Henry Bacon, Architect.