The comic figure and the funny face are good starting points, even for the serious artist, just as pencil and paper are the easiest and most accessible tools for doing them. But as you continue, you will find that these have their limitations. Eventually, you will want to draw figures that are nearer to reality, portraits that convey likeness and character, landscapes that are built on a sound knowledge of perspective.
You will find, too, that by using other drawing tools you can achieve a range of effects that are impossible in pencil. As you experiment with charcoal, lithograph crayon or pen and ink, your whole style of drawing will change and expand to make use of the special quality of the material. Some techniques will seem particularly adapted to what you want to do; others you will discard as being un-suited to your needs. Some you will use often and for many purposes, others only occasionally for special types of work. Here are a few of the commonest which it will be worth your while to try.
This is perhaps the oldest known drawing material. Soft and very brittle, charcoal is obtained from wood by a special heating process. The point of a piece of charcoal wears down almost at once. The line made on the paper is broad and soft. It does not adhere strongly to the paper, may be easily wiped, and does not lend itself to the rendering of detail. It is valuable when the artist wishes to formulate his ideas in a broad, general style.
A natural soft stone, of varying bright to dark red hues. It comes in various degrees of hardness and is more brittle than charcoal. However, it crumbles easily, wears quickly and is also used in a broad manner. It may be washed into the paper with a moistened brush so that it will seem almost like water color.
Graphite (pencil lead) is pure carbon and comes in various grades of hardness. It may be sharpened to a fine point which does not wear away as quickly as charcoal or crayon. It adheres to the paper, does not crumble. The pencil line is precise, good for detail.
An artificial product made from lampblack, charcoal or other matter mixed with linseed oil and water. Produces jet black lines that are broad and heavy. Used for strong, impressive effect.
The effect obtained in a pen and ink drawing depends on two things:
(1) ;The ink (either India ink, or common commercial ink of various shades from black to blue).
(2) ;The pen (steel, quill, or reed pen).
The pen you'll most likely use for the present is the steel pen. Its line is thin, sharp and very flexible, permitting light, soft effects as easily as the harsh, pointed ones. The pen line is even in color. It is thinner or broader, never blacker. Many drawings begun in charcoal or pencil are finished in pen and ink, thus achieving definite outline after the original conception.
India ink is made from lampblack and gum arabic. Its rich blackness compares to that of a printer's line. The usual commercial inks may be obtained in many colors and are useful for special effects.
Most people prefer to begin by drawing the human figure. It is undoubtedly the best method since man occupies the most prominent place in art and daily life. After you learn to draw the figure you'll have the required skill for reproducing all other subjects, landscapes, buildings, animals, water scenes, still life and so on. Before you make a line on your paper, form a clear idea of what you want to draw. Decide what your figure is to be doing. By all means use real life models. You'll have little trouble persuadinng people to "sit" for a drawing. Everybody enjoys being drawn, sketched, painted, and photographed.
After you have studied the nature of your subject's action (or inaction) you're ready to begin. Consider the placing of your drawing on the paper, for balance and arrangement. Make two marks to indicate the length of the drawing (fig. 216). Block in with straight lines the outline of the head. Turn it carefully on the neck,- marking its center by drawing a line from the Adam's apple to the pit between the collarbones (2). Draw a line through this point to establish the slant of the shoulders (3). Indicate the direction of the body by outlining to the hip and thigh, at its outermost point, the side that carries the weight (4) (fig. 217). Follow this by outlining the opposite inactive side of the body (5) You can get the correct width by comparing it with the size of the head. Then, crossing again to the action side of the figure, drop a line to the foot (6). You now have determined the balance of the figure. Carry the line of the inert side to the knee, over and upward to the middle of the figure (7). On the outer side, drop a line to the other foot (8).
These few simple lines place the figure. They give its proportions, indicating its active and inactive sides, its balance, unity and rhythm. Bear in mind that the head, chest and pelvis are the three large masses of the body. They are in themselves immovable. Think of them as blocks having four sides. They may be placed and balanced, one directly above the other. In this case, as you can see, the figure would have no movement. But when these masses bend backward, forward, turn or twist, the shifting of them gives action to the figure. Though these masses may be violently drawn together on one side, there is a corresponding gentleness of line on the opposite, inactive side, a harmony flows through the whole, which is the rhythm of the figure (fig. 218).
Starting again with the head, and thinking of it as a cube with front, sides, top, back and base, draw it on a level with the eye (93). Outline the neck and from the pit of the neck draw a line down the center of the chest (10). At the right angle to this line, where stomach and chest join, draw another line and then draw lines to indicate the rib cage as a block twisted, tilted or straight according to its position (11). Now draw the thigh and the leg which supports the greatest weight, making the thigh round, the knee square, the calf of the leg triangular and the ankle square. Then draw the arms (12).