Thursday, August 03, 2006

D&D2: Straights Against Curves

I don't know why, but it seems to me that the human eye is interested in contrasts. Somewhere along the way our brains just evolved that way, probably to help us survive better. In any case, the end result is that a big part of what makes any design work is giving it contrasts - contrast in shapes, sizes of shapes, textures, etc.

Contrast in line is one of the most basic design elements - straight lines against curved lines. A drawing that is all straight lines will be stiff. A drawing that is all curved lines will probably look mushy. A drawing with a good balance of curved and straight lines is usually the best solution.

The challenge is how to use straight lines when trying to portray living forms in space. There aren't many real straights in nature. Walt Stanchfield had some good advice about that.

As Walt points out, fleshy forms will turn into straight lines when they come into contact with a flat surface. Also, when two fleshy forms are pressed together (like a woman lowering her arm until it presses into her breast) it creates a straight line where the two forms meet.

Look no further than this Milt drawing to see how straights are played against curves to create a great drawing.

Bruce Timm is a good example of someone who can suggest form and a real figure while using straights vs. curves to get an appealing design.

The more stylized the drawing, of course, the easier it is to exploit the magic of straights and curves.


MisterZoobadoo said...

wonderful advice. Keep it coming!

Tyler said...

Your blog is a great help and full of inspiration. Thanks for doing it.

Daks said...

You are doing us lowly students a great service with your blog.

Please, please continue, because this is great help and very inspiring, it's things like this that keep me going.

thank you.

Jim M. said...

I saw the post and expected a diatribe on Cave Trolls and +2 Westernese long swords. I am so disappointed. :P

It's interesting how some masters can even just imply straights and play them off curves. Like in this Hirchfeld, there isn't a "straight" line in there, but he implies a straight line from Sammy's chest all the way down to his toe.

Hirschfeld even plays straights vs. curves in his compositions sometimes, playing the harp off of the implied curve made by Chico's head and the two trombones.

Jim M. said...

Thought I'd contribute a couple more examples of straight vs. curves for ya. This time in the life drawing realm. The link Scott provides in the blog post is better, but you have to log in to the Drawing Board to see the images.

Graham said...

Hey. I recently found your blog and have found it to be really awesome. Please keep up the good work!

=shane white= said...

Good observations. I like the way you make me think.

I've been getting into animation quite a bit this last year, and it's helped my comic art, composition and character acting so much. My storyboards have been looking better too.
It's funny, because you're addressing exactly what I've been studying in my own head...interesting how we all arrive at the same destination.

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