Cover by Mitzi Sato-Wiuff

EMG-Zine Entrance
Printed Anthologies
Free Download of Volume 1!

February 2012

February 2012 -- Steampunk

Gallery

Columns

  • Part Time Painter:
    Licensing, Glue for Collage, and Motivation
  • EMG News:
    EMG News for February
  • Behind the Art:
    Dragon Walkthrough

    Features

  • Appreciating Speculative Art Part 3 -- Lines and Colors

    Fiction

  • Fiction: The Wish Machine


    Staff
    Search EMG-Zine
    Contact
    Archives

    EMG-Zine Mailing List:
    Name:
    E-mail:

    Or Support us with a subscription or anthology purchase!
  • Appreciating Speculative Art Part 3 -- Lines and Colors
    by Elizabeth Barrette

    A continuation of a series. Part 1 and Part 2 were previously published in August 2011 and October 2011.


    The details of a picture determine much of its mood, and often where it belongs as wall decoration. Lines create shape and perspective; they can also shade to indicate light and shadow. Colors suggest mood, location, harmony or conflict. Most people want the artwork in a room to match the room's color scheme, or at least, not clash with it. Bear in mind these aspects as you look at a picture.

    Lines and Forms
    Much of art relies on the clever use of lines to fool the eye. For example, point of view describes the angle from which the viewer seems to look into the picture. Perspective is a way of drawing objects to make them look nearer to or farther from the viewer; close objects are drawn larger than distant objects, parallel lines such as a highway seem to converge, and so forth. Also, this way of drawing three-dimensional things on a flat surface creates an illusion of depth, so that they look similar to the way those objects would in real life. Foreshortening is an exaggerated effect of perspective which enlarges and somewhat distorts the objects which seem closest to the viewer, and also makes long objects such as arms or spears seem very short if they are pointed directly or almost directly at the viewer. A related aspect is proportion or the relative size of objects or body parts to others; for instance, head size compared to body height. Young creatures have different proportions than do adults, which is why they seem "cute" and why artists often capitalize on this by giving their characters enormous eyes.

    The contours of an object, and the play of light and shadow, are indicated with a variety of lines. One of the most common is hatching (also called "crosshatching") which consists of parallel lines drawn to represent shading, especially in ink or pencil artwork. Further layers may overlap the first with lines going in another direction, to create an even darker effect. Stippling is a similar pattern using many tiny dots instead of lines. The denser the stippling, the darker the effect. Whitework is a clever illusion based on blacking in large spaces to create an image made of white lines. It looks like the white lines are drawn on a black page, but they aren't -- they are very narrow spaces, not lines! A challenging technique, this one looks spectacular when done well; it often represents ghosts, dreams, archetypes, or other ideas not part of everyday consciousness. Here are some questions to consider:

    Perspective

    Where does the viewer seem to stand in relation to the subject(s)?
    Does the artist use the foreground or background to frame a subject?
    Does the picture seem to pull you deeper into it?
    Are there converging lines which call your attention to something?
    Do some objects seem closer or farther away?
    Does the artist use foreshortening on any of the subjects?
    How is shading indicated?
    How does the use of light and dark space influence perspective?
    Which seems more important, the foreground or the background?

    Lines can have other visual or symbolic aspects as well. Horizontal refers to a line going from side to side. It can make things seem broader or flatter. Vertical refers to a line going up and down. It can make things seem taller or thinner. Diagonal refers to a line slanting across the picture, neither straight up and down, nor straight side to side. It can make things seem twisted, dynamic, tense, or falling. Strong lines appear in character poses, objects, backgrounds, etc. and indicate the flows of force in a picture. Consider these aspects:

    Angles of Force

    What lines and angles seem most important to you?
    Are there strong lines in architecture, a subject's body, stripes on cloth, etc.?
    Do objects lean in a particular direction, or have parts that seem to point?
    Are the lines in the picture mostly straight or mostly curved?
    Do they tend to run in the same direction or not?
    If the angles cross, whether the actual lines do or not, what do they point to?
    Do the lines seem to frame a crucial part of the picture?

    * * *


    Vocabulary

    Diagonal -- A line slanting across the picture, neither straight up and down, nor straight side to side. It can make things seem twisted, dynamic, tense, or falling.

    In "Against All Opposing Forces" by M.C.A. Hogarth, the crossed diagonals show conflict.


    Foreshortening -- An exaggerated effect of perspective which enlarges and somewhat distorts the objects which seem closest to the viewer, and also makes long objects such as arms or spears seem very short if they are pointed directly or almost directly at the viewer.

    In "Elijah with Sage and Barley" by M.C.A. Hogarth, Elijah's arm is foreshortened as it extends almost directly towards the viewer.


    Hatching (also Crosshatching) -- Parallel lines drawn to represent shading, especially in ink or pencil artwork; further layers may overlap the first with lines going in another direction, to create an even darker effect.

    In "The Bronze Forest" by Moonvoice, hatching of many different directions and densities provides the different textures and shadows.


    Horizontal -- A line going from side to side. It can make things seem broader or flatter.

    In "Sensing You" by M.C.A. Hogarth, Thenet's head rises above the horizontal line of the background.


    Perspective -- A way of drawing things to make them look nearer to or farther from the viewer; close objects are drawn larger than distant objects, parallel lines such as a highway seem to converge, and so forth. Also, a way of drawing three-dimensional things on a flat surface, creating an illusion of depth, so that they look similar to the way those objects would in real life.

    In "The Henchmen's Hitch" by Meeks, the characters overlap each other and the road narrows to create perspective.


    Point of View -- The angle from which the viewer seems to look into the picture.

    In "Almond Salt" by M.C.A. Hogarth, the viewer looks straight down at Almond while she looks up: an unusual and dramatic point of view.


    Proportion -- The relative size of objects or body parts to others; for instance, head size compared to body height. Young creatures have different proportions than do adults, which is why they seem "cute" and why artists often capitalize on this by giving their characters enormous eyes.

    Compare child to adult proportions in "My Little Le'enle" by M.C.A. Hogarth.


    Stippling -- A pattern of many tiny dots used to indicate contours and lighting; the denser the dots, the darker the effect.

    In "If You Guard Me From Myself" by M.C.A. Hogarth, stippling creates the delicate shadows.


    Vertical -- A line going up and down. It can make things seem taller or thinner.

    In "Stardancer Poster" by M.C.A. Hogarth, bold vertical divisions emphasize that these characters come from three different story settings.


    Whitework -- Blacking in large spaces to create an image made of white lines. It looks like the white lines are drawn on a black page, but they aren't -- they are very narrow spaces, not lines. A challenging technique, this one looks spectacular when done well; it often represents ghosts, dreams, archetypes, or other ideas not part of everyday consciousness.

    In "Officers" by M.C.A. Hogarth (done in ink) the whitework adds detail to uniforms and creates the outline of two characters embracing.


    In "Ghost" by M.C.A. Hogarth (done in watercolor) the whitework creates the outline of the Guardian in front of his liege.



    Color, Light and Shadow

    In a colored picture, the colors convey much of the information. Therefore, artists choose their colors carefully and employ different aids in this pursuit. A color wheel looks like a pie chart divided into sections; the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) are equally spaced out, with the secondary colors (orange, green, violet) between them. Artists use this for deciding which colors to put together. A color study is a very simple outline drawing of the subjects in a picture, usually made in a sketchbook, which artists use to test different color combinations before putting their final choice on the real picture.

    Certain colors band together in groups based on certain qualities, and artists have names for these groups. Complementary colors are pairs which appear directly opposite each other on the color wheel: red/green, yellow/violet, blue/orange. Cool colors (also called "receding colors") include green, blue, violet, and related hues. They can suggest thoughtfulness or tranquility, and appear more often in the background. Warm colors (also called "advancing colors") include red, yellow, orange, and related hues. They can suggest passion and energy, and appear more often in the foreground. Neutral colors include gray, brown, white, black, and so forth. These colors have a subtler effect than the rainbow shades, good for resting the eyes. Here are some thoughts on coloration:

    Color

    What colors does this picture use?
    Is there one dominant color, or a balance?
    Do you see warm colors, cool colors, or both?
    Does the artist use a full range of colors, or a more limited range?
    Are the colors pale, bright, earthy, deep, or dark?
    Can you see any patterns in the color of objects or spaces?
    Do the colors seem to "point" or draw your attention to something?

    The arrangement of light and shadow in a picture influences the mood and reveals the shape of objects, especially in black-and-white art. Light (also called "lighting") includes the source, intensity, and angle of illumination in a picture; natural lighting tends to be subtle, but a distinct sunbeam or lantern ray can be quite dramatic. Shadow covers the darker part(s) of the picture where light does not reach; this also refers to the effect of blocking light itself. Artists may use shadow to create an illusion of depth, or a sense of mystery. A highlight is part of an object or character which is drawn or painted in a paler shade to suggest light falling on it, as a means of creating the illusion of depth or glossiness. Artists may also use highlights to call attention to important parts of the picture. Finally, uniting the concepts of color, light and shadow, a monochrome is a picture done entirely in lighter and darker shades of one color, such as pale pink, red, and burgundy. Consider the following aspects of lighting:

    Light and Shadow

    Does the picture as a whole seem bright or dark?
    Do the areas of light and shadow have sharp edges or soft ones?
    Is the picture subtly shaded, or cast in stark planes of light and shadow?
    Where does the light seem to come from?
    Do the areas of light and shadow form a pattern?
    What do they emphasize or obscure?

    * * *


    Vocabulary

    Color Study -- A very simple outline drawing of the subjects in a picture, usually made in a sketchbook, which artists use to test different color combinations before putting their final choice on the real picture.

    In "Fencer Micah Color Tests" by M.C.A. Hogarth, there are six different color arrangements.


    Color Wheel -- A pie chart divided into sections; the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) are equally spaced out, with the secondary colors (orange, green, violet) between them, sometimes more. Artists use this for deciding which colors to use together.

    Complementary Colors -- Pairs which appear directly opposite each other on the color wheel: red/green, yellow/violet, blue/orange.

    In "Koi (in the Asagi pattern) as Totem" by Moonvoice, the complementary colors blue and orange make the fish pop out in the center of the painting.


    Cool Colors (also Receding Colors) -- Green, blue, violet, and related shades. They can suggest thoughtfulness or tranquility, and appear more often in the background.

    In "Imperial Thorns" by M.C.A. Hogarth, the jewelry and sun feature warm colors, while most of the mural features cool colors.


    Highlight -- Part of an object or character which is drawn or painted in a paler shade to suggest light falling on it, as a means of creating the illusion of depth or glossiness. Artists may also use highlights to call attention to important parts of the picture.

    In "Honey Elves" by M.C.A. Hogarth, a magical light creates highlights.


    Light (also Lighting) -- The source, intensity, or angle of illumination in a picture; natural lighting can be subtle, but a distinct sunbeam or lantern ray can be quite dramatic. Artists may use light to adjust colors and emphasize important parts of the picture.

    In "Call of Cthulhu: Behind Bars" by Tiziano Baracchi, shadows dim much of the foreground while eerie light calls attention to what lies beyond the arch.


    Monochrome -- A picture done entirely in lighter and darker shades of one color, such as pale pink, red, and burgundy.

    In "Demonstration: Monochrome Underpainting" by Ron Sanders, the subject and background are rendered entirely in shades of brown.


    Neutral Colors -- White, black, gray, brown, etc. These colors have a subtler effect than the rainbow shades, good for resting the eyes.

    In "Dire Wolf as Totem" by Moonvoice, the neutral grays and browns of the subject against the white background contrast with the crimson accents.


    Shadow -- The darker part(s) of the picture where light does not reach; also, the effect of blocking light itself. Artists may use shadow to create an illusion of depth, or a sense of mystery.

    "In the Temple" by M.C.A. Hogarth frames Thenet in dramatic shadows.



    Warm Colors (also Advancing Colors) -- Red, yellow, orange, and related colors. They can suggest passion and energy, and appear more often in the foreground.

    In "Imperial Thorns" by M.C.A. Hogarth, the jewelry and sun feature warm colors, while most of the mural features cool colors.


    * * *


    Recommended Resources

    The Complete Book of Color by Suzy Chiazzari. Barnes & Noble Books, 1998. Full-color. Examines the symbolism and psychological effects of color in such applications as clothing, cosmetics, interior design, gardening, and alternative healing. Useful for learning how colors interact and affect a picture.

    Courtney Crumrin & the Night Things by Ted Naifeh, ongoing. Black-and-white comics, collected in graphic novels. As a young girl, Courtney Crumrin has many dark and strange adventures with goblins and faeries and magical people.


    Dinotopia by James Gurney. Turner Publishing, 1992. Full-color oil paintings illustrate a patchy but fascinating narrative, presented as a journal. Gurney has an unparalleled knack for capturing the trivia of everyday life, as well as the gorgeous pageantry, as humans and dinosaurs interact in his world.

    "Dinotopia: The Official Website" by James Gurney. In addition to the many intricate paintings, this site includes some detailed information on how the artist creates his material.

    "Glossary of Fine Art Terms" by Artcyclopedia. This glossary explains many words used in discussing art.

    "Nita Leland's Art Technique Links" by Nita Leland. This page lists dozens of sites that offer lessons, sample pictures, and other interesting tidbits.

    Tales from the Wonder Zone #3: Stardust edited by Julie E. Czerneda, illustrated by Jean-Pierre Normand. Trifolium Books, Inc., 2002. Black-and-white with full-color cover. Though designed to hook school-age kids on science and fiction, this anthology holds great appeal for adults too. Normand uses soft grayscales to capture the sense of wonder characteristic of these stories.

    This article began as a presentation with M.C.A Hogarth at the Midwest FurFest convention in 2003, plus discussions with her and with Jonathan Fesmire. It became the class "Art Appreciation for Wizards" in the Grey School of Wizardry in 2007. It has been revised for reprint in EMG-zine in 2011.

    Elizabeth Barrette writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in the fields of speculative fiction, gender studies, and alternative spirituality. Recent publications include the short story "Clouds in the Morning" in Torn World and poem "The Forest of Infinity" in Star*Line. She serves on the Canon Board, editing and selecting material at Torn World. She hosts a monthly Poetry Fishbowl on her blog, The Wordsmith’s Forge (http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com), writing poems based on audience prompts. She enjoys suspension-of-disbelief bungee-jumping and spelunking in other people's reality tunnels.
    Would you like to support our contributors? As a subscriber, you could use your subscription fee to pay this author for their work, as well as receive lots of extra subscriber perks!



    Fantasy coloring books from Ellen Million Graphics Get a pre-made portrait, ready to go! A 48 hour creative jam for artists An e-zine for fantasy artists and writers A shared world adventure

    Return To EMG-Zine Entrance

    All graphics on these pages are under copyright. Webpage design copyrighted by Ellen Million Graphics. All content copyrighted by the creating artist. If you find anything which is not working properly, please let me know!

    Ellen Million Graphics Main Page

    EMG powered by: a few minions and lots of enchanted search frogs
    --

    Random artwork
    from this issue: