Copyright 2006 Todd Harris
You may be surprised by what I am about to tell you, at least partly. The two lines with the least variation are a perfectly straight line and a circle. A perfectly straight line has obviously no variety at all. But, the circle, you ask? Yes, the circle. A circle curves at exactly the same ratio all along, has no variation of its curvature, it is of all curves the one with the least possible variety. These two lines are, therefore, two of the dullest, and are rarely used in drawings except to enhance the beauty and variety of other lines.
So why is this important to artists? Especially to artists who are drawing the figure? Well, to answer that, let’s look back to elementary school. When in grade school, how did you draw a person? Using circles, I dare say! Well, let’s investigate this further.
The perfect curve of the circle should always be avoided in the drawing of natural objects (even a full moon or an outline of a head), and in drawings of any kind, some variation should always be used. Always, Always.
Although the curve of the perfect circle is dull from its lack of variety, it is not without beauty, and this is due to its perfect unity. It is of all curves, the most perfect example of static unity. Without the excitement of the slightest variation, it goes on and on forever. This is where the symbol of Eternity comes from and why today we wear circular wedding rings and so forth.
Perhaps the most beautiful symmetrically curved figure of all is the so-called egg. It is an example of perfect balance between variety and unity. The curvature is varied to an infinite degree, at no point is its curving at the same ratio as at any other point; perhaps the maximum amount of variety that can be got in a symmetrical figure, for it approaches the circle in the even flow of its curvature. This is, the line of the contour of a face, and you may note how much artists who have excelled have insisted on it in their portraits.
So, what am I getting at? The point is, sometimes as artists, it’s easy to fall into traps of the icons. Using a football shape for the eye a circle for the head, are classic examples of this. Variation in line needs to be observed more to provide the individuality of the person when drawing the figure.
To do this, will take some practice and more practice. You will need to turn your paper upside down, sideways, anyway possible to get you out of your head of association. Association meaning habits. It’s sometimes hard to break the patterns of icons but can be done.
If you have any questions on figure drawing or breaking out of iconic drawing, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.