The Art and Science of Line Drawing

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Welcome to the blog of artist John McDonald, a former graphic designer, avid doodler, and now working professional illustrator. This blog was created to share information with others interested in line art, illustration and graphics.

The topics include: Photoshop tutorials and tips, traditional mediums such as ink and watercolor painting, colored pencil drawing, sketching techniques and more.

I am interested in sharing the knowledge I have gained over the years while perfecting my craft. It is my hope that by doing so I will help others who are trying to learn how to create their own line art pieces. Please feel free to make comments on any postings you find helpful.

Tutorials and articles are written from a traditional artists perspective as I started out learning how to draw by hand. Some of the posts on this site may not be conventional methods for many computer artists but I hope that you will find them helpful all the same.

*About* Line Art

Line art is a medium that is many centuries old. It has been used to depict anything from architecture to portraits and everything in between, and it can be done with many different lines, techniques, tools, and mediums. This blog is about line art, the process of creating it, what it looks like when done well, and all the different ways to create it.

The title of this blog comes from the title of a book by Henry Moore, an English sculptor who’s work I really enjoy. In the book he talks about his life (the title is actually his autobiography), but he also discusses philosophy, art history, and a variety of other topics. One thing that stuck out for me was his discussion about how he finds his forms. He said:

“I do not start with a shape in mind; I start with experience – some aspect of life or environment – and then I develop a form through observation. I try to find the lines themselves; my main problem being how to get them moving freely at first.”

This quote resonated with me because it so aptly describes what I want to accomplish with this blog: to share my love for drawing and the act of drawing itself by drawing. And while I am not

For a long time, I’ve wanted to write about the art of line drawing. But I haven’t wanted to write just another blog about it.

I’d rather start by asking a few questions. Why do we care about line drawings? What is it about them that draws us in? What is there in the world that makes us recognize a good line drawing? Or could you feel something’s wrong with one?

Part of it must be the sense of motion conveyed by some lines and not others. But what motion and why? Let’s say you’ve drawn a simple figure in black ink on white paper. It’s not just a shape anymore; it’s taking on a life of its own. It is looking at you, moving away from you, back towards you, up or down, jumping or diving. And then when it moves, you are carried along with it, by the same force of gravity that is pulling the figure itself along its path. Now imagine this figure in full color; or on video; or in three dimensions; or broken into fragments, which reassemble themselves as they move off the page.

What can we learn from these images and how can we apply these lessons to our own work? How do we use line and color to

I’ve been interested in line art off and on since I was a kid, when I used to spend hours in my room drawing pictures of dinosaurs and sharks.  Over the years, my interests have evolved along with technology.  As a kid, I used to draw with markers and colored pencils, but now as an adult my medium of choice is a digital brush pen.

Textures and techniques for creating texture are also covered.  This includes the basics of adding texture to your line art either digitally or traditionally.  Also included is a list of tools I use to create vector art and how they can be used to create texture.

This blog also covers other topics like how to color your line art traditionally and create pixel art in Adobe Illustrator.

Coloring traditional line art is something I do quite often for fun and profit.  The coloring techniques that are covered range from using colored pencils to using paint tubes and mixing them together on paper to get custom colors.

I have been interested in line art for a long time but it is hard to find good tutorials on the subject, there are a few books but they are very expensive and the majority of them are aimed at artists. I thought that it would be good to show people that you don’t need lots of money or fancy materials to create beautiful line art, just some creativity and imagination. I hope that this blog can do that!**

I have been a graphic designer since 2000, and I’m currently working as a freelance illustrator and designer.  

I love the simplicity of line art. It can be used in so many ways, it’s beautiful, and it’s a great challenge because you really need to think about your composition and balance in order to create a good piece.

I’m not sure what my blog will focus on yet. I’ll probably post some of my own work and some tutorials as well, but hopefully other designers will use this opportunity to share their work as well!

My hope is that this blog will serve as an inspiration for other artists out there who are struggling with their line art. I hope to show that line art isn’t something that you’re born with; it’s not natural talent (though everyone needs some!). 

You can learn how to create good line art if you try hard enough.”


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