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We are pleased to share with you a 10-week long class brought to you by Art Mentors. In this class, renowned Disney Art Director and Instructor Bill Perkins will teach composition for artists. In this 7th lesson, Bill will discuss the three primaries of design, line, mass, and form, and how your marks are biased by any one of those three. He will then demonstrate how to create renderings based upon the individual primaries or any combination of the three.
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In this class, renowned Disney art director and instructor Bill Perkins will teach composition
Welcome, this is week 7, and what we’re going to talk about today is the primaries
It has to do with the marks that you make and the way that you put those down.
How you emphasize or what you emphasize in those marks.
We’re going to be looking at line, mass, and form and how your marks are going to be
biased by any one of those three.
What we’re going to talk about today is the primaries of design.
This has to do with the way you put marks down on the paper.
We talked about different visual components.
Now we’re going to talk about different visual components.
Now we’re going to talk about the primaries.
These have to do, again, like I said, it has to do with the marks that you make and the
way that you put those down.
How you emphasize or what you emphasize in those marks.
We’re going to be looking at line, mass, and form and how your marks are going to be
biased by any one of those three.
This week, what I want to talk about is—you know, I said we have basically seven visual
components, two methods of measure which are major and minor key, and that’s how we measure
these visual elements.
Then we have three primaries of design.
That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
This has everything to do with your application.
How you put marks on the page.
That line, mass, and form idea really has to do with, like I said, it’s just really
more about the marks you put on the page and the emphasis of the marks.
From the previous classes we kind of looked at, you know,
qualities of these different components.
And then we’ve gone back and done homework or we draw or whatever, and as we draw and
paint, we’re putting marks down on a page.
But every mark we put down serves a consequence.
There is a consequence to every mark.
Good or bad.
If it’s all good they’re all good consequences.
You get a great image.
But there can be some that are successful and some not so successful.
That’s what we want to improve, improve the success of all of these.
Besides the shapes, the tonal contrast or values, besides the qualities of line that
we talked about and spatial dimension that we talked about, there is also our application
and how we put the marks on the page.
These primaries of design are really about, they really are primaries because they’re
just the basic—let me put it this way.
They are the basic characteristic distinctions of the marks we put down.
Now, a line that you put down, and I’m going to go through some of the notes here.
For notan and chiaroscuro and the primaries of light for artists, as we go through, let’s
see, I’ll just start at the top here.
Hopefully, this will describe some of the characteristics that we really look at break
down, and those of line, mass, and form.
Without light we don’t see anything.
Too much light we don’t see anything.
This would imply that to see the world around us is dependent on the amount of light or
the conditions of light within the range of light to dark and our brightness contrast.
Which is true—that’s our range that we see, right?
But there are also local values.
This is notan.
Notan is the distinction of light versus dark, not light versus shadow.
It’s light versus dark.
When you’re putting your tonal contrast down you have to determine is this lighter
value compared to a darker value.
Is that the result of light versus shadow or light versus dark?
Or a combination?
And, if it’s a combination, to what degree?
Which one is dominant?
Is the greater contrast light to dark, or is the greater contrast light to shadow?
Does that make sense?
Okay, that will give you what I might call the logic of that moment.
That is the visual relationship or the visual makeup of what you’re going to be seeing
I kind of put down here, Bruce Lee when he was kind of creating a new martial art, he
was combining other martial arts.
The different martial arts have pretty strict manners of use.
There are disciplines going on there.
He rearranged that by saying that there is no one way.
There is no formal thing.
In those areas of combat, if everybody knows and goes by and is rigid to the very same
rules, you’re going to anticipate what the other person is going to be doing.
It all becomes the same.
So, mixing that up becomes and interesting and important characteristic.
By doing that, he took things from one thing and took things from another.
The difference in the characteristics is really what we need to be following and looking at.
So, in this situation we’ve got our basic matrix.
Now, I want to be really clear about our matrix.
The matrix is a light dark or light shadow pattern.
When you’re talking about application, the blank paper to the dark pencil or brush or
That’s all we’re talking about.
It’s dividing a surface into white and into black.
That’s your matrix.
Your matrix could be divided.
As you can see, the image on the left is about chiaroscuro.
It’s divided into a light side and a shadow side.
That matrix is dominated by chiaroscuro.
The image on the right, where the local values, where the contrast of local values is greater
than the form, that matrix is dominated by notan.
That one is dominated by light versus dark rather than light versus shadow.
They are very, very, distinctly different.
And yet, they are two sides to the same coin.
As you can see here, the image on the left, the notan or light versus dark, this is a
pattern that you see.
The image in the middle is chiaroscuro which is just black versus light as it relates to
defining the light versus shadow side of something.
And then the third one is the combination of the two, and combining them you’re going
to create a situation where it may feel a little more real.
You could go there and you could go to a completely stylistic direction.
But really what it is, it’s determining what’s dominant over the other and the combination.
Does that make sense?
Do you see the combination there?
So, your design matrix, it can be monotonous like a checkerboard.
It can have harmony, which means it’s going to lie somewhere in between monotony and discord
Harmony is going to be an arrangement of that light/dark patterning or light/shadow patterning.
I’ll just call it patterns.
It’s going to be an arrangements of patterns that have some relationships to one another.
In this case, thick to thin.
Some a little more curved, some a little straighter, but there are arrangements.
There are some of the light shape or the white shapes that have some similarities to some
of the black shapes.
Some of the black shapes are variations of one another.
When you have those kinds of relationships like that, that’s when you create what you
call a harmony.
You have elements that are relative to one another, and you find a way to make those
There isn’t one way fits all.
So, the compositions of our paintings are based in a series of contrasts.
Within every painting there is a range of contrast between black and white which we’ll
call the value range.
The range is not the same in every painting or overall light and some are overall dark.
Some create a lot of contrast value and others very little.
I’m kind of repeating myself here about, you know, without light you can’t see any form.
But, even if we have a flat light condition, a flat light condition would create a bias
toward a notan dominant situation.
This is one of the elements that always kind of surprises me, and this has to do with our
visual components and how we look at art.
It’s always surprising to me that within the world there are so many different languages.
We know one, two; some people know three or four languages.
There are over 6000—this was quite a while ago—there are 6703 living languages in the
world, but we only know a couple, so our communication is really narrow around the whole world.
And yet, music, dance, and art are three languages that bridge all those other languages.
We can pretty much understand the expression within those three components.
You want to go with food.
Yeah, there are a range of flavors that can have a whole spectrum.
The way you group those can be associated with a location and cultures and stuff.
Like this, the scary thing to me is if we don’t look at our visual components as—like
I suggest with food—as food groups, as things that we would mix together, then we’re putting
labels on things, and we aren’t really understanding.
We don’t have the grammar to our visual language.
We don’t have grammar like we would in our written languages.
We don’t have a structure that has if you add this to this you will get that.
We don’t have that kind of structure in our visual language.
We do have relationships that we build through the combinations of these
components to varying degrees.
We can create a syntax.
We just don’t have the grammar.
That’s part of the nature or the language of our art.
I put some material in here, too, in terms of some of the references that I have looked
at and stuff so that you can do further searching on your own.
Again, looking at our visual components, and then the primaries of design.
That’s what we’re focusing on today.
The line, line and texture tend to work in a similar manner because they both call attention
to the surface.
Any mark you put down on the surface is going to be biased in some way.
It’s going to call attention to itself and the surface of the paper.
If it’s not describing anything in any other manner, and that would be considered a line
for line’s sake, a line that just sits on the surface.
Marks that you might put down that also might define the surface if it’s put in an area
you might feel that it’s a texture—well, any texture defines that surface, whether
it’s an illusionary surface or it’s the surface of your paper.
If it’s the surface of your paper, we’d call it a patina.
Even if it’s the surface on a form of a vase or something like that, we might call
it a patina as well.
But, that’s kind of a term we might call a texture that’s apparent, but it calls
attention to that surface.
Both line and texture have that same characteristic.
They call attention to the surface or wherever they are.
Notan or mass—I’m using those two words interchangeably if we look at mass as a mass
shape or shape of light next to dark or dark next to light, and then chiaroscuro would
be the recognition of light and shadow.
The effect of light on objects and how they roll from an area in light to area in shadow.
Now, any marks you put down are going to be biased in one of those three ways.
There is really not more than that.
There is just those three ways.
Now, the cumulative effect of all those lines or marks is going to give you a full spectrum,
a big range of possibilities.
But, if we look at it and break it down, you know, we can look at all different kinds of things.
You know, we can measure things in different ways, you know, what’s dominant or recessive,
contrast affinity, monotony, discord, but we have overall major key or minor key that
we deal with, the major key being the overall impression or portion.
The minor key is contrast range within that area.
Let me get down here to some of the images.
Now, in some of these images, I identify the images on the left in the vertical columns here.
These are more line-dominant images.
The ones in the middle are more mass-dominant, based on local values of light and dark.
The images on the light are most dominant by light versus shadow.
It changes things up a little bit.
Here is kind of a clear version of that.
I use the same image across the top as a demonstration of line where I’m just using a line as a
line to either define the shapes, the silhouetted shapes of the girl.
The middle image is a painting under very flat light, and you can see the dominant tonal
contrast is between light and dark local values.
On the right, the stronger contrast is between light versus shadow.
Then down below we see another drawing, the woman on the couch.
See the patterns on the—it was a kimono with a pattern on it that she is sitting on,
and the lines on the couch and then the dark value of the border, the wood border of the
couch, her headband, dark headband.
All those play a different part and create distinctive, those lines create distinctive
patterns in there, whereas the painting in the middle by Gustav Klimt is really dominant
by local values.
We see the local values and brush strokes in there.
Any image can have a combination, and it can be like this Klimt image.
Almost everywhere in there on the image has the surface patina of these brush strokes.
He’s really predominantly making it mass or notan dominant, and he’s making the texture
and the line very apparent.
He has two components that are very, very strong design factors working together.
Now, there are many ways—these three primaries don’t really define beauty.
There is not a perfect combination of these.
These are only your components.
It’s like red, yellow, blue, you know, that doesn’t define beauty.
It just means that’s your toolbox.
So, your primaries of design of line, mass, and form, that’s your toolbox to define
or create something beautiful or create something that’s disastrous, one or the other, or
somewhere terribly in the middle.
And so, really what what we want to do is we want to think about your application.
How do you put your marks down that will actually support your idea.
And many of the paintings that you’re going to see in museums and stuff, they have one
strong dominant element.
Whatever that be, whether it’s line, form, or notan.
One strong development.
Proportionally, there is one strong component.
And there will be another component in there that is secondary or supportive.
All three might be present in the whole painting or drawing.
That’s very possible that they’re all three in there.
Many of there is, but on the other hand you’re going to see something that is most dominant.
The lower right image that Michelangelo, of course, is all form because it’s all the
same color of rock or stone, and its surface is similar all over.
And then what you end up with is the strong contrast of light and shadow.
Here is this drawing again.
This would represent the effect of line.
Now, you can notice I have thick and thin lines in here, but those thick and thin lines
don’t represent any light direction.
If the thin lines all appeared on one side of the shape, and the thick lines all appeared
on the other side of the shape, it would create an indication that there is a light coming
from a certain direction.
We often do that with our figure drawings.
We’ll have maybe a thin line on one side and a thicker line on the other.
That’s going to give us the impression of a light direction.
This is totally mixed up.
It’s randomized so that there isn’t a distinguished thick or thick line that describes
a light source.
It’s really more a subjective choice of making some thin, some thick, and mixing it
That means the lines are going to be kind of dominant based on just your own impression
of the lines.
Give you more information about that.
I actually did for a game company because in
their process, if you’ll look at the top there is wire frames.
They would do that, create these wire frames, and that would be just the basic construction.
Then all those forms would be textured and a local color would be applied, and then they
would light the scene.
So, if you look at the right, you can see different exposures where the top one is exposed
for the light, and you get most of your detailing in the light side.
Shadows are grouped, clamped down, and then the next image you can see exposed from the
shadow, you get most of your texture in the shadow area and the light is burnt out a little bit.
This is a case of dominance and subordinate.
In your compositions and in your application of marks, you need to create a hierarchy of
what’s dominant and what’s subordinate.
There are just ideas in ways that you can manage that.
In this case, based on local value versus light and shadow.
So, how you can manage that becomes—well, it’s extremely important.
So, how you can manage that becomes kind of imp—well, it’s extremely important.
You saw this once before, and I just did a little breakdown at how I arrived at this.
The top left two images, one is just a pattern on the surface, and the other is the effect
of light versus shadow or the appearance.
I put a gray value behind both of them so that I don’t need to use lines.
Describe things with lines.
Now, on the lower left is form dominant.
What I did was, it feels like it’s a little overexposed.
I just made sure and I overstated that the light versus shadow is the dominant design
feature in that image.
One of those images, the one on the right, I made the local value the dominant contrast
within that image.
That’s the distinction between those two.
The one on the left is form dominant.
The one on the right is notan dominant.
All it is is just reinforcing which area has the greater tonal contrast.
That makes one more dominant over the other.
You can design your whole image that way.
The one on the right, if you’re looking for something that is a bit more photographic,
then you’re really making sure that your form is dominant.
What I did was I made it—I didn’t overstate it as much as I did on the other two.
Then what I did is I included some of the subtle characteristics that you would get
if it was an actual light source.
Meaning, I included some reflected light, some occlusion, and highlights.
Most of what we read, most of what’s printed in books and magazines is all about rendering
form, and every artist that is putting stuff out there, most of their, all the articles
and stuff about rendering and form, even artists that are painting notan dominant paintings,
they’re still talking about form.
You can check it out.
You can look at them.
But you need to determine what the dominant design feature is in each of these images.
Then you’ll start to understand.
What ends up happening is we end up learning from the standpoint of learning how to render
This is an old method from the Renaissance so we carry on this tradition.
After that came an impressionist period that was really based on the Japanese prints and
the influx of world impact.
So now we have contrast between what’s chiaroscuro dominant and what’s notan dominant.
Then we go beyond that and we start getting into abstract art, where we say, wait a minute,
the surface, it’s not just the illusion.
There are components of the surface, and the surface is a qualified characteristic of your
We have to kind of move beyond the old rhetoric of just one school of thought.
It really is three.
And it really is a case where it’s our choice on what we choose to make dominant, how we
use these components to express our visual story.
Here is an image by Andrew Wyeth.
Again, this is form dominant.
You see the strong shadows and the light direction has a strong design feature in here.
But if you look at the house up on the hill, you can see the trees, the darkness of the
trees, the darkness of the roof, the darks of the windows.
Some of those things are so strong compared to the house itself, the house feels a little
It almost kind of blends in.
This shows you that you can have variety of some areas chiaroscuro dominant and some areas
leaning more notan dominant within the same image.
Okay, here is an image that is more notan dominant—excuse me, more form dominant.
We understand her features because of the direction of the light source.
We also see that she has dark hair that that value groups together, right?
She has flowers in her hair that are a little bit lighter, and those start to break up that
area into a certain kind of a texture.
We have form dominant.
We also have areas of mass or notan.
Her hair groups into a dark shape that merges into the shadows on her neck.
We also have the light and dark patterning of the flowers and things in the background
that creates a pattern back there that calls attention to the surface.
So we have all three but they’re designated into specific areas.
They exist, and they exist in different areas.
They aren’t confused.
Out of all of this, this is what I hope you get after today.
This is what I hope you get.
That is that you can combine these components in many different ways.
There are many ways to make a beautiful image.
There is one really good way to make a bad image, and that is when you’re indecisive
about what your dominant component is.
Whenever you’re unsure about the marks you put down in terms of is this describing form,
is this describing a mass, or are my strokes or marks, do those need to be a dominant feature.
When those have equal importance, let’s say, or if they’re put on without distinction
or discrimination, you will create a bad image.
The reason it will be bad—I can’t define simply what makes a beautiful image, but what
I can describe and what we can go through are when you create a situation where there
is not clarity between your application, the image will feel muddled and the viewer will
not respond to it.
We don’t respond to confusion that much.
That’s like if you’re asking directions and you need street directions, and you’re
getting some answer, but it’s not giving you the information, and you will never get
there, okay, that’s really kind of what we’re looking at.
You need to be distinct about what a left turn really is and what a right turn really
is and how many miles to this or if there are so many lights to that.
You need to be clear about those things.
This is really what it comes down to.
Here is a beautiful drawing, and it’s a real form-dominant drawing.
There is a lot of high contrast.
The man is wearing a white shirt.
He is wearing dark pants.
Things have local values.
But, if you look at it the higher contrast really lies overall in the light versus shadow.
Now, could he have lightened up the shadows on his shirt and it still hold together?
Yes, he could have.
This was a choice that he made.
The clarity here is the clear distinction between light versus shadow.
That’s what brings it clarity.
There is another image, too.
Again, the strong distinction between light versus shadow is the stronger design factor
in this image.
Now, he’s got like an undershirt on, and it goes into shadow as it rolls around his
He could have lightened that shadow a little, and he could have darkened his pants overall
a little as well.
It would have still held together the light versus shadow.
If he pushed those even farther, it would become, he has to determine where that would
work or wouldn’t work.
We can use this as an example.
Why don’t we just do that?
I’ll draw this with those ideas in mind.
You guys can draw along.
I would suggest drawing along with me on this because I’m going to do it in kind of like
design symbols, you know, identifying where these dominant factors are.
So, get your stuff out and just kind of work with me here.
His arm comes down somewhere in there.
I’m just going to kind of lay in the bottom of the bed somewhere in here, and this is
in here like this, or I guess it’s up in here.
Then he is right along here.
I’m looking at my silhouetted shapes first.
I’m just going to get my silhouetted shapes first out of here.
Okay, so there are my silhouetted shapes.
I can see that there is, we can determine a couple of things.
The really high-contrast, most obvious thing is the depiction of these shadows, where the
material rolls into shadow from light.
These shapes are fairly dominant as they roll into shadow.
I’m not going to be completely accurate with these.
I’m just going to kind of put them down because I think this is the…okay, goes into
This one becomes very important because it brings our eye back into the frame.
This along here, fold it here.
Then the shadow shape on the ground.
This area here is really depicting this fabric in shadow.
As you can see, he put a really strong dominance of light and shadow everywhere, all along
Down the leg and stuff like this.
What I’m going to do is I’m going to change that up a little bit.
I want you to kind of explore this.
If we have his head here, let’s just say his ear is here.
His head, let’s just make it strong form dominant and say his eye is in there, nose
is in here.
His mouth is in here.
Something like this.
The shoulder is going to come up in there.
If we have something like this, and the light is coming down, right, it’s coming down
this direction, then we’re going to have an area of shadow in his eye socket like that.
His nose is going to come out.
That form is going to come out so it’s going to be shaped like that.
The front of his cheek is going to go back into shadow because it’s on a plane that’s
parallel with that light source up there.
Then all this might go into shadow.
I’m making a strong distinction between what’s in light and shadow and then his
Like this here, I’ve got form all along here, and I’ve got form here.
What I can do is he’s got darker hair like this.
What I can do is I can change that up and say instead of making his hair have a light
side and a shadow side—you see, something like that—I could make his hair dark all
the way over.
That would be mixing it, more like a little notan and chiaroscuro in that little zone.
I can do that.
Let’s just follow along his arms.
We have under the muscle here, back of his arm like this.
I’m going to follow the form down his arm here like this.
And down into shadow in areas like this.
If you see part of his hand in light you might get a little bit of a shadow underneath his
hand in here.
This will be a little articulate area that’s going to have a lot of light versus shadow in it.
I almost lose it, get real simple in this area.
Then we pick it up.
We have something of contrast here, strong focus here.
Something of strong focus there.
If I use my shadow shape in here and emphasize it a little more like the artists had done,
what ends up happening is now I have a line connecting these two.
Framing this is this.
Let’s just say that on his shirt, the folds on the blanket go like this, I can make his
shirt, give it some contrast but very little contrast.
I’m going to make this real subtle in terms of light versus shadow.
I’ll just make that real subtle.
Then what I’ll do is I’ll say I’m going to make his pants overall darker.
I’m making a conscious distinction that I’m going to make this area a little bit
darker, and it will appear just a little bit flatter than what we see in the image up there.
Now, I’ve changed this up a little bit, and what I’ve done is, the image that I’m
drawing from has strong form pretty much everywhere.
What I’m doing is I’m breaking it up and saying, okay, where do I want my focus?
Maybe I want my focus on here, on his face.
Maybe down his arm down to here.
Maybe that’s where I want the focus.
What I’m going to do or what I’ve done with this is I’ve made them more form dominant
than any other area within the image.
I brought attention to themselves.
Maybe I could just get real subtle elements of form in here and be very, very articulate
about how those muscles fold into his arm and the back of his arm.
I’m very careful about these areas, and then the shapes as they go from light to shadow
down in here, and these areas how they go from light to shadow up in his face.
I’m being very, very careful about those.
Now, I’ve diminished the contrast between this.
I made this kind of overall light.
Do you see how I eliminated that?
I can still have a few folds.
I can say got a little bit of directional action going on there.
And so I can still say that this is, I get the form going in this in the figure.
Then I can get a line out of that.
I can still say, yeah, there is some in there, but I made a choice to make it more subtle.
Now, in his pants, if I make his pants dark like this and darker than you see them in
the other image, this goes really flat.
This is really more notan dominant.
But, if I want to make sure that I get some more kind of form or moment, if I’m going
to say I want movement throughout this piece, and I’m going to diminish the form in here,
all my attention is going to go here and along this and then back.
Does that make sense?
It’s going to go in my area of focus or change, because everything else is notan.
All that up there is all notan.
This is the area of form right here.
If I want to keep some movement around and suggest something, then maybe I can just get
a little suggestion of a subtle light shape that’s going to move my eye along there.
Maybe something here that’s going to move a fold, maybe, that’s going to move me right
Just something subtle.
Maybe in here it’s a gathering.
Do you see?
Just by using just a little bit in there and then bringing this down.
I’m going to keep this a dark mass.
Correct my drawing here.
Keep it a dark mass.
You can see what happens now is I’m using this as a directional device to bring my eye
back down in here and then back up again.
Does that make sense?
I’m partially changing it because I’m keeping this zone in here, predominately notan.
And I’m keeping this area along here.
So, this image is a combination of both.
But, I’m making clear distinction between one area and another and what the marks are
doing in one area to the other.
I can actually modify how the viewer is going to look at this just by this means.
Honestly, many viewers, many artists don’t even break this down.
People that are—there is a lot of really great artists that just have this understanding
that there is—they put more detail in certain areas.
That’s what brings focus.
You can orchestrate where the viewer is going to look by contrast.
This is a case where this is a contrast of notan to chiaroscuro.
That contrast is what is going to make a difference.
The viewer, even though they don’t put them into these words, they perceive a difference.
They perceive the contrast.
And when it’s pointed out to you, you guys have even commented, you know, once it’s
pointed out, yeah, I see it.
Well, once we learn how to look at it and what it’s called, then we can recall that
and use it.
But to the common viewer, they sense it.
They just sense there is a difference there.
They can’t describe it but there is a difference.
That’s really important.
I wanted to get into some images here.
Now, this talks a little bit about exposure.
Here I have one image that is on the left.
The same thing as the previous image up there.
This is just kind of a block in with five values.
Okay, so I limited it down to five values and blocked in a notan-dominant or flatly
lit image on the left.
On the right, I used different values, and I changed the proportion of values, and I
also changed my matrix from chiaroscuro on the right to notan on the left.
Is started with my first image as notan dominant, and the second was form dominant.
Now, across the bottom, what I’ve done is I’ve overlapped the images, and I’ve just
changed the opacity.
I’ve changed the notan image on the left.
I’ve changed the opacity.
On the far left on the bottom row is all notan.
The next image over, I’m adding a little bit of the form effect.
I’m combining a little bit.
The next image I’m combining a little bit more.
We’re starting to perceive a little bit of difference, more difference between her
hair in light and shadow, and then the final one you can see it’s more form dominant.
Now, she had dark hair, and her hair may end up only going as contrasting in the final
Her hair may only go as contrasting with the second one from the left on the bottom.
It may only be affected that much.
It would take a really strong light on her to actually make those darks lighten up that
You can see with this image, everything that we see is the range between the combination
of notan and chiaroscuro.
How we choose it, where we place it, we set up an image that is notan dominant and then
include chiaroscuro in a certain area.
That gives us a design priority, and it sets up kind of a strong design.
Here is a basic lay-in of just form.
That’s it—light versus shadow.
These were like early, early sketches that I did that were just to define where the light
versus shadow is, just so that you can break it into what’s in light and what’s in
shadow, the shadow versus light shapes.
Here is another one.
It’s a pretty good discipline to just really look at, okay, just sit down and really define
where the shapes, what are the shapes if they’re light and shadow dominant, and what does the
edge look like?
What are the edges happening that actually give you more information about the transitions
and the type of forms they are.
Are they big round forms?
Are they smaller forms or what?
Here is another one.
Now, I used a second value in this.
I used a light gray and a white, but then I went to a darker value for her hair because
I used the lighter gray for the light side of her hair and the dark gray for the dark,
and then used a dark shadow in the back to create some distinction, just to break up
the two-value thing, I moved it into three values.
Here is another Andrew Wyeth image, and again, this one is really dominant inside here by
this strong light and shadow shape.
You can see that Christina’s dress also, being a dark dress, there is a little bit
of form in there, but not nearly as much as the tonal contrast between light and shadow
on the door.
That’s the greatest light and shadow happening on the door and on the ground, not the light
and shadow of her dress, and not the light and shadow on her face.
Her hair, there is more contrast between light and shadow.
So, what’s happening is he’s creating a distinction, a hierarchy of where he places
chiaroscuro and notan.
If you look outside, the tree in the distance, it’s all notan.
You don’t really get a sense of light and shadow hitting that tree.
You get the distinction between dark leaves and light branches.
This would be kind of three values of a classical kind of form approach where you have a light
direction and then shadow and then reflected light to identify the backsides of forms.
But even in this image, I went even farther.
It’s real simple, it’s just the three values.
What I did was, I can give you a little more information about the volumes, the direction,
and the angle of the light source, just by the intensity of the light.
If you take a look at the value of the light on her ribs and hip, those are larger masses.
They reflect more light, and so I made them more intense.
If you follow the lightness or the white on her rib to her hip and down her leg, two things
happen: it gets darker.
The white gets darker, and my dark gets a little lighter.
I’m diminishing contrast as I move away from the striking point of that light source.
That tells me a little bit more about the quality of the light source.
And it’s only in those simple gradations.
It’s not crazy science.
It’s just a simple approach, but it’s based on a lot of factors, the distance, direction,
angle, intensity of the light source, our angle to the object to the light source.
All these things are definitely factors in resolving these things and making logic to it.
Before you strain your brain on that, you can just identify what’s in light and what’s
Then look at the edges and then start asking yourself about, okay, if this form is close
to that form, how much light is getting reflecting back into that form and so on.
You can get into deeper and deeper and deeper information as you choose, but noticing the
difference and breaking that down is the important part.
I put a couple drawings up here.
These are just drawings where I had the model sit, and I changed the shapes of light and
shadow by changing the light direction.
All I’m doing is changing the light direction and look at the difference of the patterns
on the model.
Now, it kind of goes without saying, you can take an image, or say you’re doing to a
drawing session, and you have a strong light on the model, if you want to feature more
of a portrait, you might want something more like this.
The shadow shapes are really caricaturing and leading you to her face up there.
On the other hand, if it’s going to be a case where you’re looking at the whole side
of her, okay, you might end up with something more like this, or if it’s lit more like that.
This might be an approach where you’re going to look at the complexity or breakup of these
Now, complexity and breakup, you need areas of simple rest to complement areas that are
You need to have that.
That one doesn’t have it as much.
This one has a little bit more, and this one has it most.
Do you see, the shadow on the wall, and then light of the drape of the chair in the front
and in the background, those are large simple areas.
The areas that are broken up are along her arm and into her face.
So, it just creates a hierarchy.
And that’s the area of the composition with the highest concentration
of small contrasting marks.
Okay, the area of the composition with the highest concentration of small contrasting marks.
That creates detail or the illusion of detail and focus.
The reason that I avoid talking about detail and rendering is because whenever you’re
drawing something and you say I’m going to render this area, you stop thinking about
your composition, and you start focusing in on one little bit at a time.
That becomes very, very complicated.
It’s very hard to resolve the whole image, when you’re only focusing on one little
bit at a time.
You can perceive the whole thing.
What you want to do is you want to have a balance.
Your finished piece.
You want to have a balance throughout.
Here is the situation where I did the same thing.
With a couple different value groups, what I did was, I looked to put the highest concentration
of small contrasting marks in his face.
I eliminated some of the detail in his pants, eliminated the detail in the light and shadow
side on him.
This is only a lay-in, but it sets the path for what I would end up doing in a finished
piece if I was going to do this.
I think this is a really nice painting by Hollis Dunlap, and look at how he has grouped
the shadow shapes.
You see, they all go to a very, very dark value, and it’s almost like linking all
these shapes together or locking them together.
It’s the design pattern of his matrix.
Her hair is dark.
Her watch or Fitbit or whatever the band is there is dark as well, and it merges into
that other dark and then merges into the shadow behind her arm.
It merges down into his hair and merges up into the pattern of her dress.
Do you see that?
There is a whole rhythms of patterns going on there.
That’s what makes up this matrix.
This one is really based on notan.
Now, if you take a look at this, there is a simple number.
There are about value steps in here, five value groups.
But, if you notice the area of his face in this painting it doesn’t have the darkest.
It has the highest concentration of small marks.
The area that has the highest concentration of small marks.
It’s also set apart by the white collar with a fold in it that echoes framing his
face, and then the tricorner hat that’s very dark.
That frames the top of his face.
We have a light framing on the bottom, a dark framing element on top.
We also have the trim of his coat right at the edge of his lapels at the opening.
They kind of created an arrow that points up to his face as well.
You get a couple of factors working here.
You can see in his face that’s the area where the highest
concentration of contrasting marks.
If you look everywhere else, the greater contrast is in the difference between the trim on the
coat, to the jacket on the coat, to the background, to his pants.
It’s not a light and shadow in each of those.
The only area where it’s changed up and stronger is in around by his face.
That’s by design.
This is just a case of patterning light and dark.
Lights into darks, darks into lights, and grouping a kind of abstract arrangement around
a focal point that has a strong distinctive edge from light and dark.
Okay, so you go up to—there is a lot of breakup in these smaller areas, but they lead
you up to the simpler kind of breakup at the top.
Here is an illustration.
Same thing here.
It’s mostly notan.
It’s mostly flatly lit.
And you can see by the really, really white collar and cuffs on the man, they’re really
black against white.
They’re really, really strong.
He’s really emphasizing that.
Then her light dress and shawl against the dark of the brick, the mortar of the brick,
and then there is a strong shadow on him and her, but you only really get it on her right
shoulder, the one going back.
The shadow on her shawl.
It creates form on her face, mostly in his face.
Those are the two areas.
That’s your focal point.
Everything is framing around those.
You have shapes that are framing around that.
But those are your focal points, and so he changes it up to make it more form dominant
in that area.
Do you see that?
There is a lot of mass and texture in this image except when you get up into that area.
Here is another image that has a strong distinction.
Strong local values in here.
There is the presence of a couple of light sources, once coming in the window and one
frontal on her.
It’s really more about notan on her dress and the background of the wall.
You only get a little bit of the effect of light on the items on the tabletop, on her
face, and that’s pretty much it.
A little shadowing under her hands, but that’s pretty much it.
So, the bold brush strokes, you know, and the simplified areas set you up for that form
handling in there.
Here is an illustration, Dean Cornwell, clearly notan dominant.
What would you say is secondary here?
It would be form or line/texture.
It’s notan dominant.
It’s notan dominant and texture secondary.
There is some form in here but in a very, very small amount, just on her face.
Now, of these images, the Egyptian images on the left and the American Gothic on the
right by Grant Wood, you can see that there is strong, distinctive silhouetted shapes
The one on the left, the second component is lines.
There are these masses and then lines.
The one on the right, there are shadows in there.
They still aren’t that strong.
If you look at the lines on the building in the background, the texture on his overalls,
the textures that area on his face, and the textures on her apron, those are a little
bit more dominant than the tonal contrast on their faces.
Do you guys see that?
He’s making adjustments with these.
These are artistic choices that are being made here, in both cases.
This is a Nicholai Fechin.
I think we’ve taken a look at this one before.
In this image, what would you say is dominant?
What would be secondary in this?
There is the appearance of mass and form and texture.
There is the appearance of all three in there.
The mass first and then texture second.
There is a presence of form in there, but it’s subordinate.
The question is, are the checkerboard, the curtains behind, and the flowers in her hat
the areas of texture.
There is texture all over the place.
There is texture in his brush strokes.
Do you see his brush strokes?
He is not hiding the surface.
In any texture, he’s calling attention to the surface by all the brush strokes that
he has in her coat, on her collar, in those flowers in the background and in the checkerboard
in the background.
Lay them down with either a dry brush or thicker dry paint, but he’s letting those textural
surfaces really play a dominant role or feature in the design of this image.
Okay, this is just a black and white version of this painting.
Again, what would you say is dominant here?
Mass or notan?
Is there any form in here?
Yeah, there is a little bit.
There is a little bit under her chin, and there is a little bit on the back of her dress,
but she’s pretty much frontly lit.
And then, if you really take a look at it, look at all the texture on that image.
Do you see that?
It’s really a strong amount of texture in this image.
It might even be texture dominant and then mass secondary because it’s all over the place.
Does that make sense to you guys?
Charles Hawthorne studied in Europe and came back and taught here, and if you take a look
at this, you can see that he was definitely influenced by the impressionists.
He is more mass dominant and texture secondary.
Is there form in there?
Yes, there is form in there.
There is a little bit of form there, enough to describe or, in some cases, just give directional
You can choose where you put it if you want to create some directional movement.
This is a little sketch that I did just kind of out of memory.
It was a case of where as I was doing it, I was really trying to be conscious about
how I depicted or put my marks down.
I stopped on my way to work to get a cup of coffee, and as I was getting in my car, I
got a cup of coffee, went back to my car, and it was a real windy day.
This woman came out with a couple cups of coffee and was trying to negotiate these two
cups of coffee while she was walking and leaning backwards while she was walking forward because
the wind was so strong.
In this one, she opened the door, put one cup up and was going to go inside, and so
that’s what I saw.
Then she got in the car and drove away.
I was going to go to work, and I said, you know, I should draw that when I get to work.
Then I just kind of stopped and thought, no, if I don’t do it now I’m not going to
remember it well when I get to work.
And so I pulled out a pad and I drew both drawings.
This was just one of them.
I drew them from my memory right there.
But as I did, because she wasn’t standing right in front of me, I was thinking more
in terms of this was the feeling of what I saw.
This is the nature of what I saw.
And what are the marks that I want to use to depict this?
Do I want to use lines to depict these things?
Do I want to use mass?
I created a combination of these things, the line and mass.
And then the one on the right, I just used the drawing as a demonstration to kind of
identify those zones.
Another Andrew Wyeth.
Strong depiction of mass with a coat and so on, but there is form in specific little areas
like the chair, in her scarf, and then on the windowsill.
There are a lot of areas of relief in there as well.
Okay, in this painting, we talked a little bit about this when we were talking about
This is a notan-dominant image.
You can see there is form on this collar and form in his face.
You can see there is form on his collar and form in his face.
There is high contrast in his face, and a little less contrast in his collar, but still
based on light and shadow.
What I did was is I blocked this in with four values, the dark of his coat, and the midtone
of his skin, and then the grey of the background, and then the white of his shirt.
That became my, you know, from my basic matrix, that became the setup for this.
Then I looked at this and said, okay, in what area do I want the greatest contrast, and
what area do I want the least amount of contrast?
And so I decided I want more contrast in his face, meaning I want the viewer to look there.
I want that to be the area of focus, so I want to create more contrast within that particular
zone, and then the shirt, then the coat, then the background.
So, I made that decision ahead of time.
From what I was looking at, that’s what’s I wanted to depict.
I made sure that once I set my four distinct values, there was enough distance between
those values, then I could actually manipulate values within each zone and not get it confused
with the next zone.
Alright, in this image, the question is, do you see the highest contrast in the collar
to the coat and his neck?
That’s the highest tonal contrast within my four basic values.
Once I’ve decided what I want out of those four values, now I’m looking at the individual
Within the individual areas, I have greater contrast in the areas of his face.
I’ve boosted things lighter, and I’ve pushed things darker in his face area.
In his shirt I’ve just pushed things a little bit darker.
I couldn’t go lighter.
That’s kind of what it was.
What I did is I made the initial decision of those four values, so I put enough contrast
to make them distinctive, and that allowed me enough latitude to change the contrast
within an image.
This is a John Singer Sargent image, and he has done quite the same thing.
Basically, he blocked in about four different value groups, and then he is giving you breakup
or range of contrast different in each zone.
Do you see that?
There is very little contrast in the white of her dress.
There is a lot of contrast in her face, or more contrast in her face, and there is a
lot of contrast in the grass at the edge of the water back there.
There are lights and darks that come together that are quite strong and almost as strong
as her hair as it silhouettes against the umbrella and her skin.
But since, you know, she’s got the white umbrella or parasol that surrounds her face
and kind of eclipses the area of grass, if she didn’t have that parasol it would really
be hard to find her face.
He’s staging this to frame her face, to give you that payoff.
Yeah, this is a flat, ambient lit situation.
The indirect light is bounding from below.
You can see her shadow on the inside of the parasol, so it’s bouncing from below.
She might have been standing in front of the water.
She might have been standing, they might have put a white sheet down on the ground to bounce
the light back up to do that painting.
Those two things would flatten the image enough to make that work.
Here is another painting.
This is just a demonstration where I did the very same thing.
Three basic values, his skin is the lightest, sweater the second, background the third,
and then from there say, okay, I’ve got three basic values.
What zone do I want to have greater contrast, and how do I depict it?
Chiaroscuro, notan, texture, what do I want to do?
Break it down that way.
If you think about it that way, it sounds a little mechanical.
There are so many different ways that you can apply this, as long as your clear about
where and how you put them together.
That’s what makes your image more readable, more successful, the clarity of the image.
That clarity comes with a little bit of a plan.
We already took a look there.
This is an interesting drawing.
Robert Fosset, 1946.
Now, take a look at the handling that he did on her face, the pencil marks on her face,
and then look at the handling of the pencil marks on her hair, and then look at the pencil
marks or the handling on her shirt.
They are all very different.
He changed his mark making in those different areas.
That is what gives this drawing clarity and distinction because he changed his method.
What he did was is he gave individual importance to these different zones.
Here is a Klimt image.
What would you say?
Form, line, texture or mass dominant?
It’s texture than mass isn’t it?
It’s pretty clear.
The bottom images here, Van Gogh, line/texture and mass, clearly, and then the upper images
all kind of zero in on these upper images.
I wanted to kind of play these out because with animation we kind of look at this.
The upper one here is really about mass and texture.
Characters are all mass with some line.
The background is mass with texture.
Now, the way we painted these backgrounds was they silhouetted these mass shapes first.
I showed you that last week—or I think it was last week.
And then I painted different textures within the different zones.
It was all orchestrated.
This image from Peter Pan was mass with form.
Form was the secondary component there.
You can see the side of the bed, the shadow on the wall, they were softly painted in.
This third one was mass with line.
At any time, I pulled these because I was trying to figure out why some Disney films
were considered classic designs and became favorites, and why some are not.
The ones that are considered the strongest designs by a lot of the artists at the studio
because I interviewed them and said what do you think, what movies stand out the most
in these movies?
You know, what style stands out the most.
The reaction came down to about five movies.
I tried to figure out what is it about these five that stand above the other ones.
I found that all of those movies, regardless of style—here are three distinctly different
styles—they all five had clear dominant priority, in terms of what was their leading
design or primary design component, what was that prominent?
It was always clear, always thorough, always consistent.
Those were the movies or the designs that people connect with and that become classics.
This one, again, line and texture work the same.
So to have the characters extremely flat but then utilize the line work on them, that merges
or is harmonious with the texture in the background.
Where, if they started rendering form on the characters they would disappear immediately
into this background.
So, they built the rules and they stick with the rules.
When that happened, they got kind of a real unique and distinctive and classic look.
Now, I started there because I was working there and I was researching through their
archives, but then I also realized soon after this doesn’t apply to just animation.
It applies to art in general.
You can go to any museum around the world, go into the museum, look at those images,
and identify what’s dominant line, mass, or form.
You will discover almost every single image in those museums are clear in their distinction
of what is dominant and what is subordinate and how they manage those.
So, it’s just animation, it’s how we communicate visually from cave paintings of today.
It’s not just them.
It’s about all of what we do.
It’s to that point of importance, I think.
It’s just that important.
Vermeer was doing, if you take a look at his setup, he used a lot of strong contrasting
local values, but he also gave you a depiction of light versus shadow.
He combines it in different areas.
Do you see her headpiece?
There is a strong contrast between light and shadow on the headpiece.
You don’t see the same degree of contrast anywhere else expect on the wall below the
That’s a directional, the increase of contrast is helping that kind of directional framing.
Now, the question whether he was using a camera obscurer or not, the manner of his actual
brush strokes, the way that he actually articulated this imagery with his brush strokes are so
similar to what it looks like using a camera obscura.
That was the way we call it out or look at it.
There is a lot of people that don’t want to believe that he did.
He did use a camera.
But, you know what, there is an argument on both sides, and a lot of people think he was
a great artist, but when it comes down to it, if you look at where he came from, he
came out of nowhere predominantly and popped off these paintings.
The other thing is, you have to put it in context.
This is the way I look at it too.
You have to put it in context.
During this time, during the time of his life, if it became known that he used a camera obscura,
he would be burned at the stake.
His life depended on the secrecy, if he did use it at all.
Of course, there is no documentation.
He wouldn’t come out and say, hey, I used this device because that would have been considered
witchcraft and he would have been killed.
So yeah, his life depended on it.
If you put it in a context then it makes a lot more sense; no, there is a lot of vagueness
that goes on around this.
I can understand why.
I wouldn’t want to, you know, do you really want to die for your art?
Okay, we have some really nice drawings here.
There are thick and thin lines throughout here.
The lines here are describing the shapes and go in contour direction around his arms.
Do you see that?
They go in a contour direction.
But the thickness and thinness of lines do not follow any particular light direction.
It’s still line for line’s sake.
If the continuity of these lines were actually thicker on the shadow side and thinner on
the light side, they would be referring more to light versus shadow.
In this case, you know, this could have been kind of emulating—or maybe it was—I’m
not quite sure what the actual tool was.
It could be either a pencil or it could be emulating a bamboo pen.
A crude, broader, bamboo pen.
It could be emulating that because this is the quality you get.
This is a pen, okay?
But you see the same thing.
Though we might look at it and say there is form, well, the lines around his legs and
stuff they do cross-contour.
They give you the description of the form.
But the marks themselves, these being contour lines, are lines.
The depiction of the lines, they don’t set it apart by light versus shadow.
They set it apart by drawing around the shape or volume.
I want to clear that up too.
Someone might look at this and go, well, that’s a lot of form in there.
Well, it’s really not.
It’s just the thick and thin line in some areas, but that’s not consistent.
Then it’s lines that wrap around things.
Those are cross-contour lines that seem to follow the form.
They don’t depict the verse by chiaroscuro.
Here is another nice drawing that also has the same kind of depictions of lines, but
it’s still line dominant.
We already looked at those.
I put this in here too because this has to do with tonal contrast but also a spatial
quality to where, you know, if we look at things in the foreground, things in the background,
and differences and stuff.
It’s just another thing you can look at.
Okay, so this is a Robert Fawcett image.
You can take a look at this.
If you look at this image, you’re going to see that—well, let me ask you guys, where
does it appear we have line, mass, and form?
Those are the things.
There is line just about everywhere.
The marks are clear that they’re marks.
It’s not masking anything there.
How would you describe this image in terms of its use of line, mass, and form?
There is a lot of line.
How about her figure?
Look at her figure, where her figure is exposed.
Her face, her chest, her underarm, breast, ribcage, down to her hips, down to her waist.
Look at the marks that he put down.
Those marks are defining a light direction.
Do you see that?
Those subtle marks are defining the light direction.
On her face, on her arm or her breast, her rib cage down to her hip; those marks define
the light direction.
Then you take a look at the fabric, her skirt or the fabric, and all of that maze of line
work and texture sits within that mass zone.
Now you have a lot of line in this mass.
He’s very clear about this is line dominant or texture dominant or form dominant.
It’s all still line work.
He’s still doing it with a pencil, but he’s clear about where he puts his emphasis.
That’s kind of how it breaks down.
Here is a great image as well.
You can take a look at the patterns, the tonal contrast, the patterns.
It’s flatly lit.
It’s pretty flatly lit, but you can take a look at the handling of patterns and textures
and values and how they’re set up, too.
There is a clear, notan-dominant, but there are areas where the line of the striped shirt
and the line of the pattern on the blue skirt, the red skirt or the red dress, you know,
the background behind.
All these textures become pattern grouped together or separate from one another.
How about this?
Obviously line, but what do those lines depict?
Light direction, that’s right.
This is a form-dominant line drawing.
Cross-hatching or shading, that’s a dead giveaway.
It’s all form.
Those marks are all put down to identify the shadows.
In this case, the lights as well.
The statement is the line is always in service of what’s dominant, and it is.
Or when it is and it’s not confusing, that’s when the image is clear.
We can achieve clarity.
We can all achieve clarity.
That’s one of the things that will make your work distinctive.
Take a look at this.
This is a Valentin Serov again.
I apologize for the fuzzy imaging here.
Would you say this is mass dominant or form dominant.
It’s mostly mass.
There is some element of form.
There is a shadow side, but it’s not the highest contrast.
It’s not the dominant feature in there.
It’s mass with a little bit of form on his face in the pillow and the dog.
Right, there is a little bit of form on the dog, too.
But, look at his coat.
I’m going to zoom in here.
Look at his coat.
Look at the application here.
He’s not hiding those brush strokes either.
Those strokes are rolling across the form of his coat.
These strokes are all within this zone, but they also serve form within that flat zone
of his coat.
When we look at the overall, it’s kind of a big mass.
But the marks are also serving a little bit of form.
It’s kind of secondary to the overall.
I love this image, too.
This is really great.
I think the thing that’s great about this one is, again, it’s mass dominant.
Look at how creative he’s gotten with this image.
Both her skirt and her hair are the darkest mass, but look at how he handled her hair
compared to her skirt.
Her hair is a soft shape.
It has a soft edge to it, and you don’t see a lot of heavy marks or line work in it.
It looks like a heavy wool skirt, right, because there is heavy stitching or weave in the pattern
of that skirt.
It makes her hair appear softer in relation to that.
So, even by degree it can determine, you know, what he’s going to make a little bit softer.
Again, another Serov image, and the reason I pull up Serov and Robert Fawcet is those
two guys were exploring this avenue.
They created a lot of images that were kind of testing the waters for all of this.
You can look at this and her hair turns into a mass, but look at her face.
Strong form in her face and then you lose it.
After that it’s line and texture as you go down.
Do you see the difference there?
Isn’t it nice?
It’s really about the distinction and clarity.
You look at her face and no matter what, you go there.
It’s framed by your dark hair and also the dark line on her collar.
Those are the elements.
There are the other shapes of her arms and stuff to help dry her eye into that area and
the negative space around there also helps create relief for that.
But, the fact that it’s so clear in its distinction in terms of the purpose of the
marks, it just makes it very, very dynamic.
This is a Robert Fawcet, and you can see even on this, one person might look at it and go,
that’s a bad drawing.
It’s not her.
It’s not all the anatomy.
But, take a look at what he’s doing with this line work.
His description of lines are very, very harmonious.
He is simplifying some of the shapes, but look what he’s doing.
He’s doing it in a similar manner, but he’s changing, he’s building a harmonious relationship
between these wavy curves kind of on her hair and on her shirt.
The longer more parallel lines of her fingers and the curves in those and then the curves
along the folds on her shirt as they crinkle up around her shoulders and how they relate
to the curls in hair.
So, he’s taking simple lines and building a relationship between the lines is the more
Yes, it’s a drawing of this little girl, but it’s creating harmonious marks to create
It’s the more important thing.
We might say the design over the architecture of her face.
But, that’s a choice.
That’s a choice he made.
These are some other drawings that he did.
These are examples of you take a look at the upper left and it’s all about form, his
depiction of form.
The one down below here is about passages.
That drawing identifies passages.
He’s creating lines by putting dark against light and light against dark.
He’s creating the edges.
If you look at the back of her thigh, it’s light against the dark background.
And then if you cross over her leg to the front of her leg, it’s dark against a light
Everywhere in there, it’s either dark over light or light over dark.
It changes up all over.
Some areas like under her calf, her forward calf, there is light passages that, you know,
in the light areas they become passages where they go from the fabric below right into her leg.
That loosens things up just a little bit.
There is a combination.
A little bit of suggested form on her and then texture and patterning in the background,
and the one down here is really strong texture and patterning in the background.
You’re just kind of weighing these things out.
Trying to look for what’s dominant and what’s subordinate and how he puts it together.
This is an image from Anglin in France.
If you want to get out your boards, we’ll take a look and draw this.
What I want you to do as we draw this, I want you to look for different areas, and I want
you to render anything on here.
Let’s take a look at how we would break this down.
You can do it.
You can kind of make a plan for yourself.
The main thing is you just follow your plan.
Okay, so I’m going to look at this, and I’m going to say I’ve got, you know, in
this image I have trees.
I have sky, clouds, buildings.
Then I have water, and then I have a little lock over there, kind of a little bridge in
the little architecture under there.
We’ll just say the ground.
And there is the buildings, and there is some architecture on the ground.
I’ll just draw it on here.
The building and the architecture are on the ground.
The buildings and on the ground, there is some structure to that.
If I look at it and say, okay, in my simple design I’m going to break this up into something
This is a directional shape that’s going to keep me in the frame, and that kind of
comes up all the way to the top.
It’s a little framing element there.
One that comes in here, I’m just going to draw these just in there, just to get the
placement of these things.
I’ve got two big trees in here.
Okay, so I’m just kind of getting the basic kind of things here.
If I look t my elements, the tree, the sky, the clouds, the buildings, water and the ground,
I’ve got these different elements.
Now, if I have line, mass, and form, I’m going to look up here and say what do I want
to make dominant in this?
Do I want to make the line dominant?
Do I want to make the form dominant?
Do I want to make the mass dominant?
Or, am I creating masses with textures or whatever?
I can have a good proportion of these things, and I can come up with a design that’s very
different just by the choices that I make, but it’s making the choices, the clear choices.
That’s what you need to do.
So, you can use any of these to depict what’s going on here.
Now, if you use form, so as you move ahead with an image or a drawing, and I want you
to kind of play with this with your homework too is here.
I can say, okay, what if, you know, in this image I want to use some sense of form, where
would I apply the form?
That could be my choice.
I could say what do I want?
Do I want to have form in there?
Where would I use the form?
I see the strongest amount of form somewhere in the area in here.
I see it in the side here.
This whole tree is in shadow.
I could put it in the back of the trees, or do I want to put it in the buildings.
One or the other.
I could choose, where do I want to dominant?
Where am I going to make it subordinate?
I could look at my masses and say what are the overall values?
What do I want to make—how do I want to adjust the values or create values?
What I’ll do is I’ll do a couple of different versions here.
One, I’m going to go ahead and just put in value masses, right?
I’m going to go ahead and just put in—maybe I’ll leave, kind of lose my strokes a little
bit and just go to kind of a mass in there like that.
I’m going to say this is the same value, going across over here.
Maybe I’m going to do all of the trees in here with similar mass.
I break that edge up into kind of a broken mass up here, and I’m going to break this
up into kind of a broken area of the mass up there.
So now I have these trees working in there.
I have another element of bushes that grow along here.
Let me go ahead and add to that mass in there.
Along the line here, I have the grass that comes over here.
I’m going to add that to it.
I’m going to come down below here and say why don’t I just add the water to that mass.
And I could add this tree over here to that mass.
If I wanted I could add this distant mountain here, the trees and the mountain back here.
You could add that.
This is one way to go.
If I want to say, okay, I’m going to make this more like my matrix.
Now, you notice that I didn’t put the shadows in the buildings in there.
I said I’m looking at the trees so I’m looking at my trees as a separate element
for this design.
This is just an experiment for this design.
I look at those and the water, and I group the water in with the trees in that area.
That’s one way of looking at that.
And I could create a matrix around this, but then when you say, okay, what do I want to
Do I want to do something like line secondary?
Or do I want to do form secondary?
Or, do I want to do both?
I can have both in there two?
So, if I say I want both, maybe I’ll start with a form because it’s a little clearer,
and the form I’m going to put along both this and this.
Okay, so that helps me frame this part in here, and maybe I’m going to create the
reflection of this tree up in here.
Maybe I’m going to create that reflection in here in terms of darker form.
Maybe I want that form to read along this lower area here, so I’m going to go ahead
and put a shadow in here, and I’ll put its shadow in the water, reflected in the water.
Maybe I’ll put it in this area as well.
Again, it’s a reflection in water.
Some bits of shadow.
Shadow along the walk here.
And then I’m going to put this in shadow.
want to get a little bit of the shadow and water there too.
Maybe the shadow from these trees, and I’m going to frame them just a little bit.
I’ll put a little bit in there.
I’m going to put this back in shadow as well.
There is a little bit of light in there, but outside of that I’m going to go ahead and
put most of this in shadow.
I created a distinctive pattern of shadows in there.
I’ll work with the reflection there, too.
My tonal arrangement here.
Okay, so now that I have this, I can do a couple of things.
I can say, okay, well, if I have masses and I want to have these as more local values,
or I’ve got the local values of the trees, but then I put form in there.
What if I put the buildings in line?
What if I make the area in here a little bit more dominant?
I’m not going to be exactly accurate.
I’m going to put these in.
But again, I’m making a conscious choice to be clear or true to one type of design
or plan than another.
Just say I’ve got a roof back there, and there are windows.
There is a little bit of a rooftop coming out over here.
To me it’s a dark roof.
I can put a little window in there.
I can have this be another rooftop.
Maybe a little dormer window in there or something.
I have some of the trees that come and block this.
Now, you guys can do pretty much whatever you want.
I’m just making subjective changes.
I’ll go ahead and make an arch.
Make this go down.
We can have other windows.
Have something like this.
Okay, so now I’ve got some pretty distinctive differences here, and then I have the mass
and a little bit of the form.
What I don’t have is the mass.
The edges are really soft, and they’re not very distinctive.
Now, if I can give some—I did line, but line and texture work together, right?
I’m going to harmonize some of these trees with texture.
I can put a little bit of texture in the trees that will associate with the line in the buildings.
I might choose to use a little bit like this to create with the lines in the buildings.
I’m making a choice to what kind of characteristics I’m putting on the line because I want to
harmonize or balance those with other elements, things I have already decided on.
I want to have this and kind of play with some distinct shapes or marks that will create
these textural patterns that will work with the line work that I’ve created on the buildings.
Even the edge, I can break up the edge of this.
I can break up the edge of the shadow, create another shadow in here that actually gives
me a little bit more to work with.
Then I can create another tree in here, and then shapes from this tree.
You see, the more that I, as long as I’m conscious about the marks that I’m making,
and I make a distinction of the purpose of these marks, I can keep things harmonized
I can always keep things harmonized.
Even if I want to put in texture in the background here, I can put a little bit of texture in
That might be some of the more bare trees that I might have in here.
I’m getting the shape of some of the trees in here.
I’m going to maintain this texture within this mass of these trees, and then I’m going
to make these a little bit bigger with a little more contrast.
They’re going to harmonize with the others because that’s what I’ve established with
And if I want to also use a little bit more line in there, I can also give some shadow
shapes or ripples from the water in here.
Make them obvious lines.
What I’ve done is I’ve taken this photograph, and just by creating a hierarchy, I’ve created
a design, you know, whether you like it or not, that’s—the way that I look at it
is if I can build the clarity and build kind of a foundation that has some sense of clarity,
the image can feel right.
It can feel clear.
It can feel clean.
Whether someone finds it beautiful or not is a whole other thing.
They will find it clear.
If I can create an image that has clarity, then I’m kind of on the right road to making
Does that make sense?
You don’t want to make images that are unclear.
You want to make sure that they’re clear.
Being clear in your depiction on how you manage these things is really important.
I can take a whole other track on this thing and just go about a whole other way still
just using line, mass, and form and how you depict these.
We can do this a completely different way.
We can put form on the buildings, and the trees could be total texture.
You’d get a different look.
You’d get a different look for the image, but still it would be interpreting that image,
and it would be serving your marks.
All of your marks would be serving a purpose.
When that happens, you create a whole harmony throughout your image.
Some images, you know, if you look at a painting and go, wow, look at the rendering quality
in that image, this might not stand out as much, but it weighs in quite a bit.
Maybe they are using a more form dominant.
Maybe they’re subduing the effect of texture.
Maybe they’re masking their brush strokes, and you don’t see the strokes quite as much.
That could happen in different areas of your image.
Sargent would do that quite often.
His paintings were mostly notan, and even the facial area to be
the strongest contrasted form.
Outside of that, you look at them, and many of them are fairly flat,
almost as formal portraits.
It’s pretty flat light, isn’t it?
You see texture in zones.
That’s the clearest thing, the texture in those zones.
If you’re painting and you go outside and paint just after dusk, or it’s in a shadow
or something like that, this is what you’re going to get.
You’re going to get a notan situation, and you’re going to have in some cases more
texture in those areas.
It’ll break into this kind of a thing where…
This was an area in France near the Swiss border.
It’s a view from a dairy farm.
The dairy farm had a restaurant on it, so it was a farm to table kind of a thing.
Within this big barn there was a mezzanine around the upper part of the barn, and in
that mezzanine it was glassed off so you could look down through the glass so you could see
where the cows were.
They had just taken the cows up to the mountains for the spring, and so it smelled a lot like
cows down in there.
But, when you’re up above in this mezzanine around the top where you’re looking around
was a restaurant.
It was a cheese fondue restaurant.
Yeah, not surprising, huh?
This restaurant was known for fondue, and they made a variety of cheeses from the dairy
cows that they had there, and so that’s what they did.
You go there for fondue.
It was a spectacular place, kind of a one-of-a-kind, really unique experience.
But, in something like this you have different values.
I won’t go in and break in the values, but I can see, if I wanted to make buildings,
I would make maybe these lines are going to be straighter, have like a straighter orientation.
I can get the sense of buildings because I’m getting the scale.
If I was doing this with a paintbrush, I might lay in these different value masses, but then
as I indicate these buildings, I would be using strokes that are along these lines.
A little bit more rigid, and I would be kind of laying them in that way.
Then I would look at maybe the strokes up here of these craggily rocks.
It might be in this kind of orientation.
Maybe they’d be kind of broken up in this kind of a—this might be the kind of marks
that I’m making up here.
Then when it comes to this, maybe these marks would be of their own scale
and of their own character.
Maybe I want to get this a little bit darker up there, so I’m going to make—again,
similar kind of marks in this zone.
Again, a lot of this feels very flat.
It’s going to feel flat because it appears flat.
I’m trying to keep the breakup similar.
In all of this pattern zone.
This isn’t much different than what Hokusai did, Van Gogh, s lot of different artists.
Klimt, even Egyptian kinds of things.
I’m changing up the texture, or if you want to give some other kind of emphasis, you can
change the mode in the middle of something, and that will also change your focus.
I’m going to add some of these.
You can see how that can kind of work out.
If I have clouds or something like that, I want to do some other kind of a line or some
other kind of a—maybe it’s just a, maybe I’m going to make a soft line of some kind,
something like that, that’s different than anything else in there.
It’ll set apart.
You’ll see that it’s quite flat in your design in here.
Let me try another.
I might have some other images here.
Here is another design.
You can see that in this situation you have textures in some zones.
There are local values and pretty flat values or gradients in other zones.
It’s a flatly lit situation, so that’s why these things show up this way.
There is another image.
You can see this looks very, very flat, too.
You can see that there is some subtle texture in the clouds, a little more contrast and
a different texture in the background mountains, and then more texture or more obvious contrast
and texture in the trees in the foreground in this darker zone.
Then, if you look at the benches and the breakup of the benches and the water behind it, you
get a little bit more design and more linear things there.
Just look for those things.
Those are the things that are going to tell you, these are the distinctive things that
will make these differences.
It’ll bring a little clarity to your image.
You know, you can take a look at this image.
The difference between background mountains, midground mountains, the fountain and then
the foreground tree, and then the extreme foreground chairs and stuff like that.
That’s, you know, these are all things that you can work with.
You can set them with different hierarchy as well.
Let’s see if I can get another one here.
Here is an image that is like, okay, is there light and shadow here?
Yeah, there is light and shadow.
But, what’s more dominant?
It almost looks like the notan is more dominant because of the strong clear light.
The dark of the trees is so dark that the lights and darks of the trees group together.
You sense that there is a texture there, but the darkness of the overall tree has so much
contrast compared to the rest of the image except the little dark windows and stuff.
It becomes a different kind of a design.
Here is a situation that we’re a little bit more familiar with.
I’ll go ahead and draw this too, if you can put that image up.
You guys can follow along and draw this if you want.
The question is, on the scene with the mountain, if you didn’t want the mountain to read
quite as flat, would you add more form.
Form isn’t a solution for that.
It’s not the solution.
It’s not the—that’s a default.
It’s not the solution.
If you say this is the line dominant image, or line texture, what can you do to make your
mountain turn or go in the distance?
What can you do?
Vary the size of your texture and orientation of your texture.
I tried to make the same shapes over and over and over, from top to bottom, side to side.
Very, very flat.
You could orient those more like this.
I can change the direction of those if I make these big, and then maybe in an area I’m
going to change them to this and get a transition.
I’ve created transitions.
I’m still using the line.
So yeah, you could change up the density, the size, the scale of your line.
If you say this is a line dominant or texture dominant, stick with it.
Find your solution along that line.
Your solution can be found.
What fails us is when we set out one way and we default on something else.
Oftentimes, we default back to form.
If we go out on a limb or say, hey, let’s do something of this type of design and then
all of a sudden it doesn’t feel like it’s working out for you, and you jump back, you
end up pushing in more contrast or more form.
One or the other.
That gets us going in this circle that we can’t pull out of.
We end up adding more and more contrast because we want it to stand out.
Then you want everything to stand out.
Then the contrast goes wild and you have problems.
If I take a look at this, I can see it’s mostly flat.
Mostly notan, but I can look at my overall shape.
It’s more like that.
This comes down like this.
Okay, so I basically have this, and then what I’m going to want to do is I can see that
mostly this is a notan situation.
This is mostly flat.
It’s mostly notan dominant.
Just going to make this mark here.
Here is where it changes up.
It’s mostly notan right now, but it changes up because we see strong form on her face,
and this starts to fold into the overall design
of the shadow shape.
I’m looking for that shadow.
I’m just looking and responding to the shadow shape that is set up here.
So what’s going on in here is I’ve got a lot of mass, and it’s going right up to
a lot of form up in there.
I’ve got a shadow shape in there that we see pretty strong, and I see of the folds
in the material.
Then this value is a little bit darker.
As I break this up a little bit, it’s going to give a little bit of interest, but it’s
It’s not the form, the interest that you’re going to get if you had form.
There is a little bit of form right in here, and then a fold, fold.
Getting a little bit back here.
That’s going to bring our eye just around, and keep a little bit of focus from the form
going into the mass in here.
Then there is also—we say there is a little bit of a pattern of some kind.
There is some kind of a pattern up in there.
It’s kind of hard to see, but to say it’s a floral pattern that lays along that surface.
It’s a bit of a contrast that kind of brings attention up into that area.
Just another little bit that might bring attention up into the area.
Then when we get down into her address, it’s a little bit darker
and there is a little bit of form in here, form down here.
What happens is if we have a lot of form up in here, this is our main axis or main area
of form, then we have a little bit less, a little bit less, and a little bit less.
That harmonizes it.
It leads your eye in and out.
You’re just adding a little bit more.
Now, I could say, if I want to go in and say, well, there is a pattern in here in her dress.
I could create another element of contrast, but this contrast is based on texture.
Line and texture.
The texture is painted on her dress.
It shows what’s going on in the surface of her dress.
Any other subtleties that I want to put up here, I could put some subtleties in her skin.
Give her skin a little bit of a tone, and then I could start pulling out some of the
little highlights that sit along the tone or sit along the form.
Kind of go back and forth with those.
So again, we could go and we could finish this off to any degree we want to finish it off.
I think the main thing that I want to get at is changing up the mode of your application
can bring focus, you know, move your eye around the image.
You can set it up mostly notan, right, and then add a little bit of form, a little bit
more form and high contrast form in this area, and that will draw your eye into that place.
The homework, what I want you guys to do is take some photographs or images that you want
to draw or paint from, and what I want you to do is do them, but draw one of them that
is mostly line dominant, and do another one that’s mass dominant and another one that’s
You can take the same image and vary it up.
Change it up, the same image, so that you’re making conscious choices.
That’s a critical thing.
You want to make conscious choices.
Now, if you have a photograph of a model that has strong lighting on them, that might be
great for the form, but maybe what you need to do is ignore that and depict it by mass
or line outside of all of them.
Okay, so something has got to give.
This is an assignment where you need to make choices and then act and resolve along those
And you can change that.
The whole image, like our other images we drew today, they don’t need to be all one
or all the other.
Just make it dominant one or feature one.
Then make another one secondary, okay?
Just be clear where you make them dominant or subordinate out of those three.
Is that clear?
You want to do at least three images, just so you can explore the variety of those variations.
How do you bring shape back in?
Well, you have shape in mass, and you have the shape of the shadow shapes and light shapes.
They can, you have shapes, but shapes can be the shape of light versus the shape of
shadow, or they can be silhouetted shapes.
They can be dark shapes.
They can be light shapes.
Not light and shadow, but dark and light shapes.
Take an image or a couple of images, draw them one way, draw them another way, draw
them another way.
Make your choices.
Then make it clear.
After you do a few then you’ll get it.
You’ve got to do a few.
You’ve got to do something.
Go ahead and make some mistakes.
Remember your homework.
The more you do, do three drawings like I had asked.
If you want to do more do more.
The more you seem the more you’re going to see, the more you’re going to gain your
visual assessment skills, and the better you’re going to be.
So, work on those.
Have fun with that.
We’ll see you next week.
Reference Files (1)
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1. Lesson Overview48sNow playing...
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2. Line, Mass, and Form44m 12s
3. Notan, Chiaroscuro, Design Matrix, and Exposure46m 54s
4. Demonstration 124m 41s
5. Demonstration 2 & Assignment26m 29s