Line quality is an overlooked aspect many research little.
One of seven elements of art, and it is essential.
- Line control: If the artist intends to draw a straight line and cannot do it, practicing how to do it will enhance line quality.
There are many types of lines, and how well you can control each of them determines your overall line quality. All straight, curved, diagonal, spiral, and zig-zag lines play a role. Being able to control your lines is a skill that requires practice and time.
- Line force: How well an artist can control the graphite’s tone through the drawing.
Line force mainly refers to how consistent the graphite tones on your drawings are. No line should be darker than previous ones if you didn’t intend to do it.
- Line thickness: Intentional thin and thick lines through a drawing.
One of the most significant factors that refers to line quality is thickness. A drawing that plays with line thickness is a drawing that uses line quality.
- Line fluidity: Confident strokes reflect drawing expertise and can make your drawing look more dynamic.
Every artist develops a unique way to stroke lines, and it can be one of the most significant differentiation factors between beginner/experienced artists. Enhancing this concept further, your line quality can create different illusions drawings.
- Lighting (Value)
Adding contrast to your drawings and showing lighting, if you draw lines closer to the light source thinner and lines far from it thicker, your drawing will look more realistic.
When you see things in real life, anything closer to you seems bigger than the things far from you. That applies to lines as well. If you learn to identify the object’s perspective and the viewpoints that are closer to the viewer, you can stroke thin or thicker lines to make your illustrations more interesting.
Another essential thing line quality brings is how it allows the artist to suggest different textures. Clothing, hair, solid objects, have incredibly fresh looks, all of them should have unique, distinct lines. You can do this by changing line aspects like tone, curvature, or thickness.
Line quality is important because we live in a three-dimensional world. Since lines on paper are in a two-dimensional format, line quality is the technique artists used to make their drawings look more real. Have you ever traced a drawing and compare it to the original piece? Most traced drawings look off and plain. The original piece probably has different line thicknesses, shades, and other factors that affect its looks. However, the nature of tracing prevents the illustration of these qualities in a line. Tracing is just outlining the drawing without a purpose, and the result will most be a steady, uniform line throughout the whole drawing.
- For control, draw distinct lines: horizontal, vertical, curved, spiral lines, and more. How well you draw each line will help you identify what you need to improve.
- For force (tone), draw squares and fill them with an even graphite tone. Try to get different shades using only one pencil. If you always see the same tone on the squares, then you have good force control.
- For thickness, draw three-dimensional shapes like squares, triangles, and other figures or combinations. The goal here is to make the lines closer to you thicker and the lines far from you thinner.
- For fluidity, like control, draw lines in different ways, except this time, not as careful. The goal here is to make your lines seem confident and unique.
Line is the foundation of all drawing. It is the first and most versatile of the visual elements in art. Lines can suggest shape, pattern, form, structure, growth, depth, distance, rhythm, movement and a range of emotions.
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