Today was our last day of class for this semester. Our model was Fiona Garrett. For a demo I showed you three drawings done by people in our class. There are three things I wanted to highlight with these drawings.
1. We are very accustomed to using line to separate the various elements in a drawing. There is nothing wrong with this as a way to start a drawing or even as a stylistic decision for a finished drawing. When our goal, however, is to represent what we see as accurately as possible it is important to realize that there rarely (if ever) are dark black contour line around the objects and people we see around us.
The way we perceive where one visual element ends and another begins (without a dark black line to separate them) is contrast. For instance we might see a change in value or color where the edge of our subject matter is, where we start seeing the background. In a figure drawing class I think it is an important shift to learn to define form using shifts in value rather than relying wholly upon contour lines.
See the examples below. When I get rid of the dark black contour line the figure seems more three dimensional and more integrated into the over-all composition.
There is nothing wrong with line drawings as a stylistic decision but they don't represent what we actually see. I think it is important to know the difference between using lines because we like how they look - a decision of preferred style, as opposed to using them because we don't know how to accurately depict what we see.
2. Depicting the volume of hair is more important to a convincing illusion of human form than getting the detailed texture of hair. The hair is usually a spherical volume that needs to abide by the same light logic as everything else in our drawing in order to create a convincing illusion of three dimension.
3. There is a strong tendency to leave a halo of white paper around the lines of a drawing because we don't want to mess up the lines and/or we don't want to mix the black charcoal in with colored pastel. Leaving this halo of light value around or inside your contour line usually creates contradictions with the light logic in your drawing and will flatten space and form as a result. Leave no halo's.