Posts tagged: drawing

Princess Line Drawings

line drawing by K Sean Sullivan

Line art of princess brushing hair.




Art by Utah storyboard artist, K. Sean Sullivan.

Line art of princess by window.


Line art by Utah artist K. Sean Sullivan.

Line art of princess on a grand stairway.


Art by former Disney artist, K. Sean Sullivan.

Line drawing of a princess dancing.


Art by K. Sean Sullivan

A young princess.


Line drawing, whether pen and ink, pencil, or computer software is a challenging art form and can be very beautiful.  I learned the finer points while working as a “clean-up” artist at animation studios.

Production drawing by former Disney artist, K. Sean Sullivan.

Clean-up animation drawing.

Drawing Basics

I have developed some material for classes that I have taught at Utah Valley University (Utah’s largest university in terms of undergraduate enrollment).  The classes that I have been working with are Drawing for Animation, and Drawing for Illustration.  Much of what we try to focus on in the class is the drawing of figures in a structured and consistent way.  We are looking for “SOLID” drawings, “APPEALING” drawings, and a way to create them over and over with consistency.  We start with basics of shape and form.  So much of drawing really comes down to being able to “SEE”.  Recognizing shapes and their spacial relationships is the biggest challenge.  We start with the idea of a shape.  The shape is a two dimensional thing.  You can measure it by it’s height and it’s width.  Technically, anything we draw on paper is by its very nature two-dimensional.  We focus on the three basic shapes, the  circle, the square, and the triangle.

Basic shapes.


Now this is not geometry or science, so a square is any box-like shape with four sides.  For the purposes of this kind of art, trapezoids, rectangles, and parallelograms are all squares to me.  Circles are roundish things that may look like ovals or eggs.  And triangles are things with three sides where the lines are sort of straight-ish.  Get it?  NOT geometry.

Forms are three-dimensional. Statues carved out of stone have form.  By scientific definition, nothing on paper can have form.  Even computer artwork is not in fact 3-D, because as it appears on the screen it has only two dimensions.


Basic forms.

So here is where I show you a drawing of the basic forms, Cube, Cylinder, Sphere, and Cone.  But wait, they’re flat, so they’re not forms after all, but merely shapes.  The whole idea about shapes versus forms having been said, the crux of drawing is to create an illusion of form using the two dimensional shapes.  This objective is so crucial to the artist that from here on out we have to give ourselves license to refer to shapes as forms as long as they are appearing to have form.  Let the mathematicians and scientists bother with all that other stuff.

So we must first understand that many things can be drawn very effectively by simply using the basic shapes or forms.  In this simple drawing we see that if we arrange a variety of basic shapes, we can draw a locomotive.


A complex object made up of simple and basic shapes.


To draw something like a human figure, we can use the same technique.


The figure made up of basic shapes.


Okay, these drawings are pretty crude and simplistic, but believe it or not, these basic shapes hold the key to solving extremely complex drawing problems.  It is not terribly hard to draw the basic shapes as just shapes.  It takes a little bit more practice to draw them as forms, and then start assembling them together.  Then we can start refining the way they fit together, and before long we can figure out fore-shortening, and difficult angles in all our drawings.


Practice makes perfect.  Warm-ups are helpful.  Practice drawing a shape and adding to it another, and another. Let the sizes change.  Just let it grow into something that fills the paper.  You can dedicate one page to spheres, one to cubes etc.  Let the lines overlap so that it starts to appear that some of the forms are in front of others.  Notice how these relationships can easily create the illusion that some of the shapes are receding back in space or coming toward us.  Have fun, discover, and let your hand, wrist and arm get comfortable with these shapes.


Warm-up and practice exercise.


The next thing we have to get familiar with is the concept of “Drawing through” and using “construction lines“.

Drawing through, means that we go right ahead and draw lines that would actually be visible only from the other side.  Notice in the drawing above that we can see through some of the circle shapes to the circles behind.  It’s like they are glass balls.  It’s important for the artist to be able to visualize the features on the other side of a form as well as those in the front.

In the following drawing, the black lines represent the features that the viewer would normally be able to see.  The blue lines are drawn-through and represent the artist’s understanding of what lays under, behind, or on the other side.  This is what we call “drawing through“.  It’s an important part of  “constructing” a solid drawing, where all the parts fit together in a believable and structural way.


Notice the blue lines that show through the form.


Construction lines are all the lines that are helping us establish the structure.  But especially those like the “mid-line” which shows where the body would be divided right down the middle, or the “eye line” which is a line that circumscribes horizontally around the head at the level of the eyes.  A belt that wraps around the waist is like a construction line the circles the body at the level of the waist.  This construction line  should be drawn through so we can see it in back as well as in front.


Notice the red cylinder that makes up the upper arm. The entire body can be formed using these kinds of cylinders, spheres, and cones.


Enough talk.  Let me show you lots of drawings.  Look for the basic shapes.  Look for the evidence of drawing through.  Look for construction lines.  Practice and observe.














Notice how bugs is constructed using basic shapes, drawing through, and construction lines.


Preston Blair's book. Basic shapes.


Notice the basic construction in this model sheet from Disney's Lilo and Stitch.