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The “Rules of Art”

Ayal Pinkus

While re-inking the illustrations Norman Lindsay made for the play “Lysistrata,” I was reminded of the excellent book “Drawing Lessons From The Great Masters” by Robert Beverly Hale. In it, he keeps showing how the old masters would use convex lines to suggest flesh. It was a “rule” back then that that was how you suggested flesh. Convex lines, and convex lines only.

While doing the Lysistrata illustrations, I saw the same thing. But one thing I noticed was that they didn't concern themselves so much with so-called tangents. I noticed this also while re-inking the Joseph Clement Cole illustrations for “The Lost World”. Tangents are points or lines where two objects touch each other. Today, it is a “Rule of Art” that you should avoid tangents because it reduces the sense of depth in the image.

Robert Beverly Hale also wrote that the artists back then would soften the cast shadows so that they could use hatching to show the underlying volumes. Nowadays, many artists — comics artists, for instance — make cast shadows pitch-black.

It is interesting to observe how the “Rules of Art” seem to change over time.

And with that thought, I leave you with three finished illustrations I did the other week.

Ayal Pinkus

Lysistrata illustration

Lysistrata illustration

Lysistrata illustration