PDA

View Full Version : Line Vs. Mass Tutorial


danielh68
07-27-2005, 02:01 AM
Disclaimer: These are just my opinions and I know nothing.

I've been asked by a few CGTalkers to do a tutorial. Initially I set out to do one about texturing a painting; however, at the last moment, I decided to dedicate one to "Line vs. Mass". So here it goes:

When starting a painting, there's two methods of putting your idea down: (1) Line Sketching or (2) Mass Sketching. Line sketches tend to produce paintings that simply look like colored drawings. While, mass sketching instantly produces atmosphere and volume. For instance, look at the two sketches below. The face on the left is rendered purely by line and has a linear quality to it. Now, the face on the right is rendered in terms of mass. There's no line delineating every feature of the face, instead everything is defined by volume. Remember, when massing, try to apply paint in a left-to-right horizontal fashion. It can curve some, but don't gravitate to far from the horizontal movement. This action will force you to think in terms of mass and not line.

http://www.blitzdesign.net/dsg/linemass/linemass_1.jpg

Already it has a sense of atmosphere and mystery. There's no need for laborious perfection, because so much of it is suggestive. For instance, the shadow on the face disappears in the mass of dark hair. Despite not seeing it clearly, we know her jaw is there. It's simply subdued by the same shadow value of the hair.

In order to build upon this, I eyedrop the toned canvass and create a lighter value for the skin. Then I begin to paint with the same brush I used for the previous two sketches (note: brush is a slightly angled regular brush with pressure sensitivity turned on). I apply the paint strongest wherever the light hits the face. For the shadow areas, I simple use the exposed tone canvas -- no painting needed. Since, I'm not using reference I just approximate where the light would fall and continue to paint in the skin tone gradually.

http://www.blitzdesign.net/dsg/linemass/linemass_2.jpg

Once the general coat is completed, there are countless values transitions left over, which is not necessary. A good painting can stand on just three values. As a result, I switch to a regular non-sensitive brush and set it to about 70%. I try to eliminate alot of the unnessary values by eyedropping prominent values and painting over the weaker ones. An alternative would be to blend, but I'm not a big fan of blending. Occasionally, I will use it to obscure non-factor elements in the painting. For the face, however, I avoid it.

http://www.blitzdesign.net/dsg/linemass/linemass_3.jpg

In the end, I place in a blue-gray backdrop and sample a lighter blu-grey tone for the highlights, then I continue to push it until it's something I like.




Best Regards,

Dan



PS -- My apologies for the colored drawing.

Wintermute
07-27-2005, 02:17 AM
very nice tut!
Thanks for sharing that! I'm going to have to try that since I pretty much just do line sketches at the moment (pencil & paper)

:beer:

ravioli_rancher
07-27-2005, 02:57 AM
danielh68:

Gorgeous tutorial. Succinct and casual, yet oozing with style. :bounce:

Many thanks for doing this. :applause:

'Tis difficult to sketch in mass, especially after drawing exclusively with fine point pens, mechanical pencils, and etching plates, though your generous tutorial takes away some of the fearsomeness of tyring something new.

I think, of course, you made the line art as goofy as possible, just to make your point that mass sketching is the bees knees.

Tutorial saved.

Anxiously awaiting any more advice you have to offer. :wip:

Stahlberg
07-27-2005, 05:57 AM
Excellent explanation!

Rebeccak
07-27-2005, 06:10 AM
Me likes ~ Great job!! :)

~Rebeccak

ashakarc
07-27-2005, 07:23 AM
Line sketches tend to produce paintings that simply look like colored drawings. While, mass sketching instantly produces atmosphere and volume.

First, thanks for sharing your knowledge.
I quoted the above, because I think you need to revisit this statement. Yeh, I know you have a disclaimer, but that won't protect you :) it is not an opinion in this case.

As you well know that pencil sketching occasionally help building the underlying structure of the painting, and I can't stress more on that, but using massing in order to construct the painting is another way that might coincide with pencil or without it. This stage is very elementary and does not lead necessarily to a different style. Long live the pencil, and may the brush be its obedient follower forever :)

ceresz
07-27-2005, 09:47 AM
thanks, great job:thumbsup:

danielh68
07-27-2005, 02:24 PM
Thanks everyone for your feedback.

ashakarc - yes, you're totally right. One is not better than the other. Some of the great painters, such as Egon Shiele, Toulouse Lautrec, etc., incorporated line beautifully.

Myself, I use a combination when composing a painting. Although, I try to keep any line work loose and temporary in order to achieve the look I want.

Basically, I'm hoping the beginner, may see the world differently in terms of volume, mass and light; instead of a flat iconic interpretation.

Thanks again.

Jean Genie
07-27-2005, 05:17 PM
As you well know that pencil sketching occasionally help building the underlying structure of the painting, and I can't stress more on that, but using massing in order to construct the painting is another way that might coincide with pencil or without it. This stage is very elementary and does not lead necessarily to a different style. Long live the pencil, and may the brush be its obedient follower forever :)[/font]


While I do understand the importance of line in architectural drawing and in complexe perspective, I must say that lines in portraits or more organic figures tend to act as a barrier, separating masses that should be blended out.

I know that more experience painters who understand masses and values as much as lines will probably not fall in that trap.
However, I have seen a lot of art in Cgtalk that seems flat because of a too great respect of the line art.

Thinking in terms of masses helps judge composition and values more easily in my opinion...

jmBoekestein
07-27-2005, 05:24 PM
I'd say I have to agree with ashakarc, but to egt somewhere fast maybe sketching in mass is easier/better.

I've found it very helplful to have lines to guide me along the canvas, saves me the pain of shuffing pixels the wrong way so to speak.

Very nice tutorial, :thumbsup: .

ashakarc
07-27-2005, 05:37 PM
While I do understand the importance of line in architectural drawing and in complexe perspective, I must say that lines in portraits or more organic figures tend to act as a barrier, separating masses that should be blended out.

Ah, quite the opposite in my opinion. Since architectural form is way more complex than a portrait, I've always asked my students to start with a mass model concept, where your theory about constraints is applicable. Beginners tend to overreact to the underlying grid/outline thinking of lines as walls and level changes. With regard to portrait, sketching with a pencil has more use since it enables the beginner to see a near close expression to the finish by just few lines, solids are much harder to deal with as they are more fluid and shapeless in the early stages.


I know that more experience painters who understand masses and values as much as lines will probably not fall in that trap.
However, I have seen a lot of art in Cgtalk that seems flat because of a too great respect of the line art.

That's true, but I think this has to do with deficiency in understanding light and shading rather than the pencil effect. Also, I might add that most beginner artists/designers have insufficient experience with spatial configurations when going 2D.

Thinking in terms of masses helps judge composition and values more easily in my opinion...

True again, yet for experienced eyes only, for the reasons above.

In fact, the other problem that might arise with beginners if they go with massing technique only is that they will have difficult time going flat when needed.

Jean Genie
07-27-2005, 06:16 PM
With regard to portrait, sketching with a pencil has more use since it enables the beginner to see a near close expression to the finish by just few lines, solids are much harder to deal with as they are more fluid and shapeless in the early stages.

Interesting statement. Would you mind elaborating on the procedure you use for architectural drawing, going from fluid and shapeless to a solid?

ashakarc
07-27-2005, 06:47 PM
Interesting statement. Would you mind elaborating on the procedure you use for architectural drawing, going from fluid and shapeless to a solid?
I will have good faith in your interest :)
There is no one procedure that takes the design from the early sketching stages into the materialized form and space. It depends on how you approach it. With design, you can choose to establish a program, that describes functional and spatial relationships, build either abstract mass models that represent that program, or take it into other more simplified representation tools like diagrams, i.e graphs, bubble diagrams, etc..
You can also start, with arbitrary strokes of color, even water color is good, let the fluid color flow, extract potential moments in the composition and elaborate it into a solid mass model. Again, there are limitless ways of how you can translate an idea, or even how to start it.

There are plenty of designers though that start with lines, and nothing is wrong with that, it's just another way of doing it based on what they need to see at that certain stage.

I hope I've shown you some of what I meant, but I don't want to hijack the thread talking architecture. Thanks for the interest. :)

Jean Genie
07-27-2005, 07:16 PM
You can also start, with arbitrary strokes of color, even water color is good, let the fluid color flow, extract potential moments in the composition and elaborate it into a solid mass model. Again, there are limitless ways of how you can translate an idea, or even how to start it.


I can see how that might be a very dynamic approach to design... Thanks for the explanation.

Even then, masses are not as clear-cut in portraits as they are in a final architectural design. Maybe I'm wrong, but I still see more harm in sticking with lines in portrait, forgetting they are temporary as there are not many flat surfaces in a face and roundness is more easily achieve with masses and values established first hand.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with using lines as long as they are easily discarded.

Erikoinen
07-29-2005, 06:25 AM
Thanks!







A lot!

RO
07-30-2005, 02:51 AM
I like mass. Lines should only be in to guide a basic form but you should not be constrained to that form at all. At times your line work might look good but when you put the forms it ends up looking really bad. Lines should only be used as a lose guide to make paintings and real volume made with actually placing mass forms. I agree :)

pushav
08-11-2005, 10:42 PM
I missed the picture?

danielh68
08-11-2005, 11:32 PM
Dang, I'm sorry Pushav. I had to move to a new web host last week and the files on the old server have been deleted. Unfortunately, I forgot that this tutorial (along with the other tuts) were linked to the files on the old server. Again, my apologies.

pushav
08-12-2005, 03:44 AM
it happens. I saw this thread when you started it and I forgot to click on it.

CGTalk Moderation
08-12-2005, 03:44 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.