Cross Contour Drawing
To Do. Use line to create a cross-contour drawing on white paper that emphasizes tree trunks and/or branches as the main subject.
Take a Look. Perform a Google search for examples of line drawings of trees, branches, and other fauna. Look up the artwork of artists like Ben Shaun and Kathe Kollwicz to see how expressive line can be.
Think About It. Look at the examples below. Think about: How would you describe these drawings? What kinds of lines can you identify? Do you get a feeling of volume when you look at these drawings? Why do you think the artist left some areas blank?
Do It. Collect several branches and start with several pages of white sketch paper.
Draw several boxes that are approximately 3″ x 5″ and make a variety of thumbnail sketches that focus on tree trunks and branches.
Sketch quickly and loosely and when you have a rough composition that you find pleasing, re-draw it onto a 12″ x 18″ sheet of white drawing paper in very light pencil. Pay attention to details such as differences in size of bark, curvilinear forms, overlapping areas, and the illusion of depth.
Cross Contours are basically imaginary lines across the surface of an object, like a grid or mesh draped across so it fits the form perfectly. While the pure contour focusses on the edges of the form, the cross contour helps us to describe its three-dimensional surface.
Check out this article on Cross Contours and put them to work in your own drawing. While contour lines describe edges, cross-contours describe form and volume. These lines can follow planes of form, moving around and across objects as well as through them. Think of a topographical map — the lines move across the terrain. Cross-contour lines do the same thing.
Using pen and ink or brush and ink, create a cross-contour drawing of your chosen organic subject, using only line. Avoid crosshatching. Your drawing will be constructed entirely from cross-contour lines. Emphasize the lines.
This is an observational drawing from life and you may not use photographs of any kind as reference.
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