OCAD Studio: Articulating Constructs

This lesson will explain how to go about adding more detail to a drawing by breaking the simple curved lines into more complex articulations. You do not need to make it extremely detailed, it should be enough to break a long line into 2-4 sections.

Sighting Angles and Alignments to Improve Accuracy

Even if you’re using your eye to copy, it is useful to pay attention to relative angles and alignments while working. This will stop you from getting tunnel vision about any single aspect of the drawing and keep you thinking about the big relationships that govern the overall proportions.

You can compare angles by flicking your eyes between your drawing and the subject. Your eyes will spot if an angle is different because there will be a shift as your eyes move back and forth (like how an animation works). The same is true for lengths of lines between the angles.

Alignments are even simpler, imagine a straight horizontal (or vertical line) lying across your subject (you can also use any straight implement, like a ruler or knitting needle) and see what point in the subject line up. If they don’t line up in your drawing, you know that something is off and you can correct the mistake.

If you can get the alignments and angles right, the drawing will naturally fall into place without too much effort.

High Point and Low Points

When looking at natural forms you will find that most are made of gradual curves. These curves make it difficult to break down a form into simpler construct lines (or articulations). An important aspect of producing an effective line drawing that captures the essence of the subject is an ability to pick high points and low points effectively.

A high/low point is essentially the point at which the curve turns back on itself in a noticeable manner. While a curve is (by nature) always changing direction you will tend to find that there are specific point along the curve where this change in direction is more pronounced. Thing of a parabolic curve, it is gradual changing direction until suddenly reversing rapidly before becoming more gradual again. It is these marked changes of direction that we refer to as high and low points.

When beginning to articulate a gesture drawing, start by finding these high/low points along the curved lines. Only find one or two points to begin with, otherwise it will become over complicated quickly and it will be difficult to make corrections where necessary.

Overlaps

Any representational drawing (or painting) is a 2D interpretation of 3D reality, so there will be aspects of your drawing that omit parts of the subject that are hidden from view. In complex subjects (like the human figure), this results in a number of overlaps. Places where one form partially blocks another form. These overlaps usually result in a angle change and placing them accurately will help to give a sense of all the forms relating to one another accurately. They are also crucial when trying to capture foreshortening (a form of perspective that is caused by the aspects of the subject closer to the viewer appearing bigger).

Naturalistic Rhythm and Avoiding Repetition

The final consideration when producing an articulated drawing from a simpler gesture is to ensure that you keep a naturalistic rhythm when adding more lines. There is a tendency for humans to make things regular and repetitive, which makes for a dull (and unrealistic) drawing. Nature is full of ordered irregularity which is inherently beautiful, so an important aspect of producing an effective representational drawing is to appreciate and translate these natural rhythms into your drawing. If you notice yourself adding identical lengths of lines or identical angles it probably means you’re drawing automatically and not looking at your subject enough.

OCAD Studio: Two Point Perspective

When we look at the world around us, we notice that as objects move further away, they become smaller. In order to make images on a flat surface appear 3D, or realistic, we must learn how perspective works and how to use it.

The previous lesson covered the simplest form of perspective; one point perspective. We will now take a look at how two point perspective works.

Two point perspective is the most commonly used form of perspective drawing. This is because it is significantly more naturalistic than one point but simpler than three point perspective (and better suited to medium and small scale scenes).

If you are drawing something with the corner of an object pointing towards you, then two point perspective will be required. In most cases a scene will contain some objects that have corners point towards the viewer. As a result, you will often find yourself needing to use this method.

We will use this reference photo of a old warehouse to find out how two point perspective works.

Plate 01.jpg

The Horizon Line

To recap from the previous lesson on perspective; the horizon line is a horizontal line that divides the ground from the sky in an outdoor scene. It is sometimes called the ‘eye level line’ because it’s placement in the image determines where how far from ground level the viewer’s eyes are:

  • If the horizon line is placed near the bottom of the image, it will seem like the viewer is high above the ground and looking down at the horizon.
  • If the horizon line is placed near the centre of the image, it will seem like the viewer is standing at a normal height above ground level.
  • If the horizon line is placed very high in the image, it will seem like the viewer’s eyes are very near to the ground.

The placement of the horizon line is also affected by the angle of the eyes:

  • If the head is tilted up, the horizon line will be low in the image.
  • If the head level, the horizon line will be in the centre of the image.
  • If the head is tilted down, the horizon line will be high in the image.

The best way to understand how the placement of the horizon line will affect the image, is to make lots of sketches, with the line placed in lots of different positions.

Plate 02.jpg

Vanishing Points

In a two point perspective drawing we use two vanishing points (it’s in the name 😉 rather than one. These points are placed at the left and right extremes of the drawing. They are often placed outside the frame of the image to avoid excessive distortion.

Plate 03.jpg

Next, you can draw your upright lines, which will determine the shape of the form you are drawing.

Plate 04.jpg

Converging Lines

Finally, you can connect the ends of the upright lines to each vanishing point, in order to determine the shape of the planes that face away from the viewer.

Plate 05.jpg

Once all of your lines are correct, you can erase anything that won’t be visible in the final image. This includes the converging lines that lie outside of the object, any hidden portion of the horizon line and anything blocked by other objects in the scene (such as the car in the bottom right-hand corner of this image).

Plate 06.jpg

OCAD Studio: One Point Perspective

When we look at the world around us, we notice that as objects move further away, they become smaller. In order to make images on a flat surface appear 3D, or realistic, we must learn how perspective works and how to use it.

The simplest form of perspective is called one point perspective. This is because everything in the image converges to a single vanishing point on the horizon.

Drawing in one point perspective works best when depicting scenes that are front on. Such as facing a wall, or looking down a long narrow space like a railway, a road or a row or trees.

If you are drawing something with the corner of an object pointing towards you, then ‘two point perspective’ will be required, but that will be covered in a future lesson. For now, we will familiarise ourselves with one point perspective. We will also limit ourselves to simple shapes, made out of straight lines.

We will be using this photo of a train to find out how one point perspective works.

Reference Image.jpg

The Horizon Line

The horizon line is a horizontal line that divides the ground from the sky in an outdoor scene. It is sometimes called the ‘eye level line’ because it’s placement in the image determines where how far from ground level the viewer’s eyes are:

 

  • If the horizon line is placed near the bottom of the image, it will seem like the viewer is high above the ground and looking down at the horizon.
  • If the horizon line is placed near the centre of the image, it will seem like the viewer is standing at a normal height above ground level.
  • If the horizon line is placed very high in the image, it will seem like the viewer’s eyes are very near to the ground.

 

The placement of the horizon line is also affected by the angle of the eyes:

  • If the head is tilted up, the horizon line will be low in the image.
  • If the head level, the horizon line will be in the centre of the image.
  • If the head is tilted up, the horizon line will be high in the image.

 

The best way to understand how the placement of the horizon line will affect the image, is to make lots of sketches, with the line placed in lots of different positions.

*While in reality the horizon is curved, it is usually fine to make it a straight line.

Horizon Line.jpg

True Shapes

Surfaces that face towards the viewer show the true shape of the object because they are not affected by any distortion.

When working on a perspective drawing, it is best to start by placing true shapes of the main objects. In the image below you can see that the true shapes of the front of the train facing the viewer, and the pillars have all been highlighted.

True Shapes.jpg

The Vanishing Point

All of the planes that travel away from the viewer converge to a single spot, called the vanishing point, where the they disappear from view.

You can place the vanishing point anywhere along the horizon line. If it is placed in the centre of the image it will give a sense of symmetry but it will also feel slightly static. If placed near the edge of the image (as in the reference photo) the image will be more dynamic.

By drawing lines from the corners of the true shapes to the vanishing point you can add the planes that face away from the viewer. It will also help you to determine the height of identical shapes receding into the distance (such as the pillars on the platform).

Vanishing Point.jpg

Conclusion

That’s it for the basic of one point perspective, I now recommend that you watch the accompanying video and try your hand at some of the one point perspective exercises that you will find on the front page of the course.

As always, let me know if you have any questions, or need any help with your work.