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Old 10-06-2017, 01:03 AM
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Batman55 Batman55 is offline
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Long straight lines method

Long straight pen lines (I would define as 2 inches or longer) continue to present a real difficulty. Of course, the answer is not a ruler... it's a fundamental issue with the method that I need to correct.

One of the best explanations (and demonstration!) of how this is done, is found in this video at the 7 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3lApsNmdwM

To me that looks like virtuosity, although he explains how he does it. He says don't use the wrist (which is the way i've worked forever, mostly using the wrist!) He says you plant the elbow and use it as a pivot, the wrist should not move at all.

I did an entire practice sheet using this method tonight and it's not working at all. Hatched lines unevenly spaced, overlapping, too short, too long, curving off to the left, right, etc.

He says you need to practice for a while to get it right and yet I can't lie that my first genuine attempt ending in disaster... is frustrating. I worry perhaps I'm just not built this way, don't have the fine motor control innately, to keep those lines steady.

I have to fix the defect, one way or another. All of my work up till now has been done drawing very slowly and carefully using the wrist, which works for some types of work but it is not sustainable and especially not at large scale.

What do you folks think of the video? How do the rest of you tackle "long" steady lines? Do you use the wrist, elbow, arm, etc?

I'd love to hear any responses. I need to solve this thing, once and for all!
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Old 10-06-2017, 10:03 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

Batman,
None of us had any motorskills to draw to begin with. Do you remember your first attempts to write your name? I think that make long straight lines is the same concept, a skill to learn through lots of practice.

I remember years ago struggling with long straight lines, and then one day I picked up a carpenter's pencil to draw with and found I was able to make the most beautiful straight lines. It dawned on me that it was all in the muscle movement used. With a carpenter pencil you must work from the shoulder, with a locked wrist. Once the muscle memory is developed, it applies to any medium.

One trick I have used in keeping lines straight and even is to go into the space that I am working on, and every half inch to inch, put one perfectly straight line in with pencil. You can even use a ruler if you wish, but must ink over it freehand. That way you have guideposts as you go.

However, using a ruler in some spots of a drawing and not others tend to throw off the entire drawing. It just makes it look contrived and off. Either all lines should be ruled or none. At least that is my humble opinion.

I really liked the video! Thanks for sharing it.
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:33 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

My straight lines are like me. A bit skewy and wonky with a side-serving of weird.

But seriously, I draw from my shoulder. I wouldn't say it makes my lines straighter (at least not yet), but it definitely helps with fluidity.
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:45 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

He gives good advice but the most important word is PRACTICE! ...... he's so right about using the arm not the wrist - so sit further away so you aren't cramped up, put a wrapper round the wrist if necessary! - pivot from the elbow (sometimes shoulder) - make practice moves above the paper first to get the muscles 'remembering', then lower the pen and make the marks.
Use large sheets of paper too - less cramping!
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Old 10-06-2017, 05:59 PM
Rahul_jain Rahul_jain is offline
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Re: Long straight lines method

as others have said, practice is what it is about, but following 2 points might help you

1. don't sit at a desk when drawing with the drawing surface at your chest and elbow resting on the desk as in that position I find shoulders are not that free to pivot due to the angle they are at (which creates tension in the muscles). I usually sit on a chair with drawing surface on my lap and this makes the shoulder vertical and without any muscle tension and I find that I can move them much freely.

2. create a (straight) line with dots using ruler if need be and then try to freely draw the line connecting dots...if there are dots for your mind/muscles to focus on/aim at, then it helps.

also, nothing wrong with drawing at small scale...I actually prefer that as the lines are actually visible when viewing it at the appropriate distance (which is less for smaller size)

Hope this helps, but really don't give up....

Rahul
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Old 10-06-2017, 07:52 PM
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Re: Long straight lines method

"What do you folks think of the video? How do the rest of you tackle "long" steady lines? Do you use the wrist, elbow, arm, etc?"

Drawing from the elbow ? - Never heard that one before .
Drawing from the shoulder ?- heard that ten thousand times from the most authoritative people, it definitely is a most valuable lesson to learn.
When drawing a long & straight line , do it quite briskly , definitely not slowly or ponderously.
DO NOT focus the eye on the point of the nib ! instead you should be looking at least 4" ahead of it &/or at where you want it to end.
Both drawing from the shoulder & focusing at the destination of the line has been taught to many generations of artists & craftsmen.
Speed of working is another one , say if you are hatching , practice working fast & rhythmically.
Like Maureen emphasizes - PRACTICE is the key, is there anything in life where practice & experience is not the key ingredient ?
Mike
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Old 10-06-2017, 11:57 PM
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Re: Long straight lines method

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blooming
Batman,
None of us had any motorskills to draw to begin with. Do you remember your first attempts to write your name? I think that make long straight lines is the same concept, a skill to learn through lots of practice.

I remember years ago struggling with long straight lines, and then one day I picked up a carpenter's pencil to draw with and found I was able to make the most beautiful straight lines. It dawned on me that it was all in the muscle movement used. With a carpenter pencil you must work from the shoulder, with a locked wrist. Once the muscle memory is developed, it applies to any medium.

You really have some good advice here Blooming. I shall also admit to having used some of your ideas before... whenever I see some good idea from another person here, it's always "why hadn't I thought of it before?"

I'll see if I can find myself a carpenter pencil and try that out. If it can't be done through trial, maybe a bit of "force" is needed.

I think at the end of the day this is going to be a learnable skill, despite my neurotic concern about it. You might say I'm ultra-neurotic as a general rule... I've now been here for a few years and asked about this several times, and each time tried doing it properly for like 20 minutes, and then went right back to using the wrist for every line. It's just what I've always done. Old habits die hard for most.. and yet harder for others?

I think even with wonky fine-motor skills, though, I'll get it with persistence via muscle memory. I noticed when I was done filling up that practice sheet, my last few runs with hatching steady lines looked better than the rest. So maybe progress is possible, indeed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blooming
However, using a ruler in some spots of a drawing and not others tend to throw off the entire drawing. It just makes it look contrived and off. Either all lines should be ruled or none. At least that is my humble opinion.

I really liked the video! Thanks for sharing it.

I'll respectfully disagree on this a little. I agree the right idea is to use freehand for everything, but I think there are also exceptions where a ruler makes good sense. For example, the perspective lines of a tile floor, or the sharp outer edges of a metallic object. Those lines need to be perfectly straight, otherwise the viewer can get confused.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:16 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rahul_jain
1. don't sit at a desk when drawing with the drawing surface at your chest and elbow resting on the desk as in that position I find shoulders are not that free to pivot due to the angle they are at (which creates tension in the muscles). I usually sit on a chair with drawing surface on my lap and this makes the shoulder vertical and without any muscle tension and I find that I can move them much freely.

I respect your opinion. A little bit of dissent if I may, though?

I imagine most pen artists use a desk of some kind, and of course, that's what I've always used. It's also the exact same position as the artist in the video. I advise you to watch some of the video starting at the 7 minute mark. I've rarely seen a demonstration of long, straight, evenly spaced pen lines (not to mention, perfect ellipses) by an artist. He's doing something right, it's fair to say.

He appears to make a point of having the elbow resting firmly against the desk, to work as a pivot. It makes good sense to me.

Yet, having tried "drawing from the shoulder" last night, though, you also make an interesting point there. It appears the "shoulder" drawing method works better without planting the elbow.

So I'll be experimenting with both, although I think any method that doesn't use the wrist, is using more of the "arm" so maybe we are confusing similar things as being very different, when that's not quite the case..? In other words, his method probably overlaps with what the rest of you are calling "shoulder drawing." As long as it's the arm, and not the wrist, maybe it's all the same. No need to split hairs eh?

Last edited by Batman55 : 10-07-2017 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 10-07-2017, 12:20 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raindrop
My straight lines are like me. A bit skewy and wonky with a side-serving of weird.

But seriously, I draw from my shoulder. I wouldn't say it makes my lines straighter (at least not yet), but it definitely helps with fluidity.

My straight lines are also like me. They don't exist.

Although could that mean I don't exist, either?
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Old 10-07-2017, 02:09 AM
Rahul_jain Rahul_jain is offline
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Re: Long straight lines method

Quote:
Originally Posted by Batman55
I respect your opinion. A little bit of dissent if I may, though?

I imagine most pen artists use a desk of some kind, and of course, that's what I've always used. It's also the exact same position as the artist in the video. I advise you to watch some of the video starting at the 7 minute mark. I've rarely seen a demonstration of long, straight, evenly spaced pen lines (not to mention, perfect ellipses) by an artist. He's doing something right, it's fair to say.

He appears to make a point of having the elbow resting firmly against the desk, to work as a pivot. It makes good sense to me.

Yet, having tried "drawing from the shoulder" last night, though, you also make an interesting point there. It appears the "shoulder" drawing method works better without planting the elbow.

:

I am bit confused with the video as when he pivots with the elbow, he draws long arcs, not straight lines, which is expected as pivoting at elbow will create more of circular motion...I don't rest my elbow on anything and let my upper arm fall, or be vertical, and then my upper arm and shoulder joint moves as I move my wrist...I don't pivot from elbow...I find that this approach gives me more freedom of motion and more fluidity...but again, in the end, different approaches can be used to same end with PRACTICE
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:43 PM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is online now
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Re: Long straight lines method

Quote:
Originally Posted by Batman55
Long straight pen lines (I would define as 2 inches or longer) continue to present a real difficulty. Of course, the answer is not a ruler... it's a fundamental issue with the method that I need to correct.

One of the best explanations (and demonstration!) of how this is done, is found in this video at the 7 minute mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3lApsNmdwM

To me that looks like virtuosity, although he explains how he does it. He says don't use the wrist (which is the way i've worked forever, mostly using the wrist!) He says you plant the elbow and use it as a pivot, the wrist should not move at all.

I did an entire practice sheet using this method tonight and it's not working at all. Hatched lines unevenly spaced, overlapping, too short, too long, curving off to the left, right, etc.

He says you need to practice for a while to get it right and yet I can't lie that my first genuine attempt ending in disaster... is frustrating. I worry perhaps I'm just not built this way, don't have the fine motor control innately, to keep those lines steady.

I have to fix the defect, one way or another. All of my work up till now has been done drawing very slowly and carefully using the wrist, which works for some types of work but it is not sustainable and especially not at large scale.

What do you folks think of the video? How do the rest of you tackle "long" steady lines? Do you use the wrist, elbow, arm, etc?

I'd love to hear any responses. I need to solve this thing, once and for all!

That is one of the classical first things they impose on you when you do a classical art class and only later you discover why.

Your joints are not limited to your fingers or wrist. Each join only makes ARCS, its their nature as pivoting joints. The smaller the lever on the joint the curvier the arc. That means your fingers can only do arcs much smaller than your wrist. In fact Fingers < wrist< elbow< Shoulder < hips.

That is why when you get to a classica art class they teach you to hold a pencil with overhand grip and use an easel. Why? because it becomes alsmost impossible to use your fingers and wrist, you are forced to learn to use more the shoudler than anything else.

Then comes the real trick of the straight line. Combining shoulder AND elbow AND wrist. Most of the movment that translate the pencil on the apper comes from the shoulder (when on an easel, and from the elbow whenon a flat desk). THe other joints are used As DAMPENERS to neutralize the natural arc. THe result is a reasonably straight line.

How to do it? Practice like hell. It is easier to learn it with an overhand grip on an easel (and later transfer the skill to pen holding technique an table). Be patient.. because it takes time.. and by time I mean from weeks to months depending on the person.
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Old 10-09-2017, 07:46 PM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is online now
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Re: Long straight lines method

Quote:
Originally Posted by Batman55
I respect your opinion. A little bit of dissent if I may, though?

I imagine most pen artists use a desk of some kind, and of course, that's what I've always used. It's also the exact same position as the artist in the video. I advise you to watch some of the video starting at the 7 minute mark. I've rarely seen a demonstration of long, straight, evenly spaced pen lines (not to mention, perfect ellipses) by an artist. He's doing something right, it's fair to say.

He appears to make a point of having the elbow resting firmly against the desk, to work as a pivot. It makes good sense to me.

Yet, having tried "drawing from the shoulder" last night, though, you also make an interesting point there. It appears the "shoulder" drawing method works better without planting the elbow.

So I'll be experimenting with both, although I think any method that doesn't use the wrist, is using more of the "arm" so maybe we are confusing similar things as being very different, when that's not quite the case..? In other words, his method probably overlaps with what the rest of you are calling "shoulder drawing." As long as it's the arm, and not the wrist, maybe it's all the same. No need to split hairs eh?

After you learn it, you cando it even cramped up on top of a sketchbook inside a bus goign at high speed in a road full of craters. But to learn it, it is much easier if you put as little obstacles as possible to the joints you are less used into using.

Btw, I forgot to add in the previous post. The best exercise is to draw SPHERES and elipses with your shoulder that way you exercise more the coordination between joints. Suddenly straight lines will be a piece of cake ( up to the lenght that your joint allows.)
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Last edited by tiago.dagostini : 10-09-2017 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 10-10-2017, 12:17 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

Great post, Tiago!
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiago.dagostini
That is one of the classical first things they impose on you when you do a classical art class and only later you discover why.
You seem to have quite some experience in this area. My question, does anyone *start* with perfectly fluid shoulder/arm drawing technique? I'm thinking as with many things, there are probably naturals who never really had to practice much to get it. And yet...

..And yet everyone begins with the wrist. Handwriting is learned through the wrist motion. Maybe *this* is why it is so hard for many of us to learn the correct way for making steady lines on the paper. It's because you're going against the ingrained pattern. That's one possibility, anyhow.

It certainly does not help that my fine-motor skills aren't so great to begin with. Hopefully that just means I have to work longer than most to get there... and not that I cannot learn!
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiago.dagostini
That is why when you get to a classica art class they teach you to hold a pencil with overhand grip and use an easel. Why? because it becomes alsmost impossible to use your fingers and wrist, you are forced to learn to use more the shoudler than anything else.
I am beginning to think this may be the direction to go in: To use a method where I literally cannot use the wrist, where I'm forced to use proper technique. So if my practice on a desk does not show progress over a week or two, I'll be setting up an easel with a carpenter pencil.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiago.dagostini
Then comes the real trick of the straight line. Combining shoulder AND elbow AND wrist. Most of the movment that translate the pencil on the apper comes from the shoulder (when on an easel, and from the elbow whenon a flat desk). THe other joints are used As DAMPENERS to neutralize the natural arc. THe result is a reasonably straight line.
Shoulder/elbow for long lines and continuous hatching; wrist for small lines and detail work.
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:28 AM
tiago.dagostini tiago.dagostini is online now
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Re: Long straight lines method

We tend to deconsider, we we also took years to get fine wrist and finger control. Ask any primary school teacher how many years untila alphabethization starts until the students have a good and stable handwritting.

Most kids take 2-3 years, that while using the skills every day.

As an adult, it will depend on how much you were used to using large muscular groups with precision. If you are an office worker , you probably have near zero practice. Ifyou are a surgeon or a cousine chef or a martial artist you probably already learned to fine control your larger joints.

Until today, I never saw someeone that could not learn it, but I saw a lot of people unable to muster the PATIENCE to learn it. Alot of people simply revert to using the wrist and finger durign practice or simply consider preposterous to train for months on something.

Check this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRriDkvRhV0

notice how he simply cannot use figner and wrist to propel the marks on such a large surface on a vertical plane and with the pencil grip he is using. THe reward is the precision on the very long lines.
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Old 10-10-2017, 09:02 AM
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Re: Long straight lines method

Excellent explanation and advise tiago! Thanks for taking the time to post. Maureen, can you save this thread to the P&I help thread?
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