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DRAWING SKETCHING COURSE: Drawing of tension- and powerlines

Drawing of tension- and powerlines

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In every motive you can find striking points. When drawing persons this points often are shoulders, elbows and kneecaps.

One drawing strategy is, to find a relationship between this points. For example, if you want to fix the position of the feet, you draw a line through the heels. Or you try to measure out the increase and length of the shoulder and sketch the found line on your paper.

Sometimes you can draw one line through several parts of the motive. For example a hand, arm and shoulder are forming a bow. Then you sketch this bow as a kind of “force" or "tension line”. This lines, drawn with a hard pencil or a normal one without pressure, build up a structure or grid of ledger lines. The crossing of the lines marks the position of the motives salient points . This drawing technique is normally not used alone, mostly it is combined with the other techniques mentioned before.

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Here are 2 pictures with „tension lines“.

Fig. 1:
The bow through (1) and (7) and the lightly bent line through (7), (3) and (5) are such tension lines, also the green one. The yellow lines are straight lines, which connect salient points, here elbow, knees and the top of the feet. This straight lines are very easy to find.

How to measure angle and length of this straight lines with the help of a pencil or brush is described under "MEASURE".

The position of the salient points (here red) is given by the crossing of the lines. The bow through (1) and (7) marks form and position of the shoulder, the yellow vertical line trouser leg and the middle of the lower arm.

Fig. 2:
This picture shows the lines without the photo. The few lines are sufficient to define the whole figure. The exact position of the lines is not important. Drawn “weekly” (with a hard pencil) they form only a kind of structure, to which you can hold on when sketching.

The "valid" lines are drawn with larger pressure or with a softer pencil, the weak helping lines are urged optically into the background.

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Fig. 3 and fig. 4:
Similar to above different "field lines" are drawn here, this time without the straight lines. After some practice you'll see these lines in the motives.

When sketching comics you normally will start with this “powerlines” to ensure a certain “momentum” of the figures.


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