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Seeing and Rendering Planes in Figure Drawing

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Defining and Rendering Planes
Seeing and Rendering Planes in Figure Drawing
Ed Hall, licensed to About.com, Inc
A strong light source is very important when trying to render planes. When we place a harsh light on the figure it’s easier to notice how the light falls across the landscape of skin, bone and muscle, and how the values change as the planes change direction. Try to recognize how the light is reacting to these surfaces. For example, if we were to take our basic cube and face it directly at a lamp, the surface receiving the direct light would, of course, appear to be very light in value. But as you change the angle, notice how the value changes on each plane of the cube, from light to dark, with the back side being much darker. The same holds true for the figure. Planes turn the figure, disappearing as they vanish over an edge, and reappearing as they come up around the other side. Like I said – it’s geometry, but it’s also nature.

Figurative planes are no different than the planes that make up a honey comb, a nautilus shell or a sweeping landscape. One last thing to consider when rendering value planes is the weight of your lines. Be aware of the pressure you are exerting on your pencil as you create the value plane lines. Vary the lines. This makes it easier to differentiate between the planes, create connections, and accentuate the space. I like to emphasize the points of intersections on my planes and let the line get lighter as it moves away from the intersections. This gives the drawing weight and dimension. By varying your line you can push and pull the space and therefore make it much more interesting for the viewer.

Continue developing the concepts of this lesson with Directional Hatching and Cross Contour in Figure Drawing, which shows you how to fully render planes using directional hatching and cross contour.

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