a problem with borders and lines

by menna

thanks a lot :D

the other drawing was imaginary so it didn't work so well, but i took your advice and i did it, i think this drawing seems a lot better, of course not perfect because i don't use a ruler, so my shapes seem to be a little tilted or irregular,
people told me not to use a ruler when drawing,is that really right??
and about borders or lines, i know i'm not supposed to draw a line unless i do see a line, but sometimes i feel like over doing it, so the drawing seems a little messy or undefined, so can you help me with that??
i would also like to know your opinion on this drawing and how can i improve it :D
thanks a lot.


Yes, good work - I already notice an improvement in your drawing. The objects all appear to be sitting on the same surface and that is great. Your shading could improve but is pretty good nonetheless! I love the shadow that the cone is casting on table/background surface on the right hand side of the drawing. Very smooth gradation - it's perfect!

About the tilted lines: I see that your objects do appear to be skewed. If it helps your drawing, I say go ahead and use a ruler. Another great trick is to look a the edges of your paper while you draw. Try drawing all vertical lines so that they are parallel to the edges of the page on which you are drawing.

About the borders: It's not so much that you should not draw borders. What you want to avoid drawing is outlines. Drawing outlines around every object or every edge can make an object look cartoonish. Now, you actually have a bit of both going on in this drawing. Notice the far right object (the cylinder), where it meets the background table. That's simply a dark area meeting a light area instead of an outline. You could have done the same thing with the object on the left hand side of your drawing (the cube). The table / background could be darkened so that when it meets the cube, it's simply a dark area meeting a light area and not an outline around the cube. The same goes for the area where the sphere overlaps the cone. Take a look at the objects on the table (not the drawing) - which of those objects appears to be darker? The sphere or the cone? Even if they are the same color in reality, the light hitting them will affect each one differently. The difference in shading does not have to be dramatic - for example, an area of light gray meeting an area of medium gray will create a line without having to draw a black outline for definition.

I talk a little more about this subject in the Beginning Charcoal Video.

Try experimenting with your erasers to create sharp lines in this manner, without using dark outlines. Make sure you use the edge of a brand new eraser, or cut a sharp edge on your used eraser using an x-acto knife. You can also use a thin piece of paper to protect the area you do not want to erase. Then erase along the edge of the sheet of paper (no need to have a sharp edge on your eraser for this). When you lift up the paper, you will see a sharp line.

Other improvements: Again, take a look at the actual object on the table (not the drawing). Specifically the cube. Now notice the edges of the cube (not the outside edges). Are they really outlined in black? Or, are they outlined in white? I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually highlights. And that's another point. If you enjoy being able to make objects very defined, consider using your eraser as a drawing tool. You can use erasers to draw sharp white edges (instead of sharp black outlines). This way you can avoid the cartoon look, but still have very sharply defined edges.

Keep it up Menna, it's only been a few days and already you are improving!

Comments for a problem with borders and lines

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You're right
by: Menna

Well, in reality the cone is lighter than the sphere, but when i did that ,the cone appeared so pale, and it looked more like an unfinished drawing, so i ignored light and i shaded it :$
and about drawing with the eraser,do you mean using it instead of charcoal?
And by the way i find charcoal to be hardly erased, so whenever i draw a wrong line it messes the drawing, i wish you would help me with that, both hard and soft charcoal are being difficultly erased.
Does angle of shading affect the drawing? I mean like, if i draw a sphere does shading have to be as semi circles? Or vertical lines in case of cylinder? :)
and thanks alot for the advice:-D

Charcoal types and more...
by: Elizabeth

If the cone is lighter then perhaps you could make the sphere a lot darker? Also, are you using vine or compressed charcoal? And, are you laying out a smooth gray background in vine charcoal first?

The reason I ask is that if you lay a smooth gray background in vine charcoal. And then draw with the same vine charcoal, then if you mess up, you can just smooth it back into the original background. It's the same vine so it can erase pretty well.

Drawing with compressed charcoal is much harder. Harder than drawing with pencil, because compressed charcoal does not erase easily.

Vine charcoal looks like the stem of a plant that has been toasted in an oven until it turns black - it's round and organic looking.

To make compressed charcoal you would grind the vine charcoal into dust, then press it with much force into a mold (if you were a charcoal manufacturer ;).

About the eraser - Once you have a smooth gray background (made with the vine charcoal and a paper towel), you can draw into it using an eraser adding highlights and such.

As for the shadows - it really depends on the light source, the angle at which you are viewing it, and the objects it falls upon. Semi-circles for spheres and straight lines for cones do occur but always go by what your eye sees.

Take a look at the negative shapes that your shadows create if you are ever unsure of how to draw them.

Wishing you more happy drawing time!

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