THE BASICS OF DRAWING - LEARNING HOW TO THINK IN LINE

Tutorial / 27 June 2020

LET’S LEARN SOME LINES.

No, this isn’t your acting class, we’re talking about art here!

Yes, the vital line. Nowhere to be found in nature, yet absolutely indispensable for drawing, painting, drafting, designing, inventing, engineering, architecture, and…you get the point. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, you can always watch my Beginner Drawing Course lesson 01 video for free below. Otherwise, let’s dig into some concepts and applications of the humble line, and how you can generate a lot of drawing potency by learning them in and out.. 


DRAWING A FINE LINE

Well, the simple fact is, lines are a natural way for us to think. From the first cave paintings to the present day masters of drawing— we’ve always had a profound and deep relationship with them. One might even say hard-wired. 

Yet, most people default to arranging their lines (as far as drawing is concerned) into stick figures, or only utilizing them in very inefficient ways, such as drawing every hair on a character’s head.

You see, lines aren’t like hammers which can only perform a pretty limited number of functions. 

They’re far more conceptual, meaning their uses are practically infinite. 

However, we’ll leave infinity to the mathematicians for now, and focus in on several ways that you can begin to hone your understanding of lines, and how to apply them to your artwork and thinking.

HOW TO THINK IN “LINE”


So, like every other creative conversion process, lines are a way for us to translate our feelings, ideas, perceptions, and observations into a drawing. 

Now, a drawing can be a few simple lines, or it can be made up of many thousands— it all depends on the style and deployment of the lines. 

Kind of like how you could express an idea in English, but it would look vastly different in Cantonese or Russian. 

Yes, they’re all languages, but each of them has their own “rules” for formatting, as well as a different visual look.
As noted above, different types of lines have different feelings, uses, and purposes— like learning the alphabet, or each tool in a toolkit. 

One might even make a comparison between learning the notes on a musical instrument, or more broadly, the musical scale. 

The thing about those two comparisons, however— is that they’re a lot more rigid…very defined, whereas lines offer more freedom, but also less structure and certainty. 

It’s why there aren’t nearly as many child drawing prodigies as there are chess, music, spelling, and other more rule-laden disciplines.
In my opinion, that’s what makes learning to draw so fun and open-ended, but also what makes it rather scary and intimidating or frustrating at points.

Here’s a bit more info about lines:



So, like how we have to form cohesive letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs, lines function similarly. 

Especially when it comes to making shapes. Shapes are also of immense usefulness to us as humans, and we should treat them with just as much curiosity and devotion in the artistic sense.

Heck, if you smash enough lines together, you get shading.

This is an example of that— it’s an exercise I designed to help warm up the hand to create various types of lines that can later be converted into shading or values. 

Don’t worry about those things for now, as we’re going to focus back in on line. The main point I wanted to make is that lines, being as conceptual and transformable as they are, are positively laden with power, potential, and possibilities. 

It’s just one more reason why learning how to wield them effectively allows us greater creative expression and artistic prowess. 

LINING YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Alright, so now that we’ve laid out many ideas in regards to lines and creating artwork, I want to leave you with  a way to apply some of this knowledge as you move forward on your artistic ascent. 

These tips will allow you to start endowing your thinking and your work with more alignment.

  1. Begin to “draw” objects you physically see with your mind using only lines.  Trace them, their details, and simplify when necessary.

  2. At night (or when you’re lying in bed in the morning) visualize yourself sketching and paying particular attention to lines. How do they feel flowing out? Are you establishing them rapidly or slowly? Can you draw characters? Faces? Animals? What about simple objects? 

  3. When you’re drawing from life (an exercise I go over in more detail in my beginner Drawing Course) Try to draw using the fewest amount of lines possible, and keep them as clean as you can. Like working with ink, and only have ONE shot to do it each mark. 

  4. When working from imagination or sketching from reference, start with very light lines, and gradually work your way to more confident and assured lines once the bigger stuff has already been laid in. 



FINAL THOUGHTS

Those exercises will ensure that internally and externally lines become more familiar to you. You will begin to conceptualize them consciously and subconsciously be devoting the rays of your attention not only to their concepts, but their actual execution. 

It’s a multi-faceted approach that yields powerful results over time if you stay consistent. 

If you want more demonstration, techniques, and other ways of applying lines, you can always feel free to acquire the Beginner Drawing Course. Or watch other artist videos on youtube to see how they do it.

All in all, don’t get frustrated if it takes a while to absorb or utilize all of this information. In fact, only take in what’s useful to you at this time, and then revisit this post later once you feel stuck or are inspired to do so.

Until next time— happy drawing.