Saturday, 2 April 2016

More drawing devices

I have looked at drawing devices before but have recently come across or remembered others that might be of interest. In particular this area might be of interest to those of you trying to work with ideas that question the 'authenticity' of the hand drawn mark or want to work in that space between photographic representation and drawing from perception. The constrained ball by Giha Woo is a product with lots of design flaws, however as an idea it is fascinating as it suggests that like a ruler you could use this device to draw straight lines. Thinking about it though, it probably wouldn't help that much, but it would be interesting to see what drawings would look like if you made a series of holders like the one illustrated to 'help' you draw. You could convert toy cars or similar objects with small wheels by taping pens, charcoal sticks, pencils etc. to them and seeing how they affected the types of marks you could make. 

The Constrained Ball designed by Giha Woo

David Hockney has used a camera lucida to draw portraits with. If you look at the examples below you can see how the camera lucida changes the way you look. They are actually very hard to use and you need to be already aware of the main issues that face someone trying to do a measured drawing if you are trying to use one. The main problem is keeping a steady and fixed eye point. You need to work looking through one eye and you also need to keep your head very still. The image you will see is also very faint because you are not working in a dark box, but when you get used to using one, you can use it to plot essential points, such as corners of the mouth in relation to width of nose, and in this way you can get a very good likeness. The concentration needed means that you will probably only use it for essential measuring points, therefore other elements of the drawing will probably be sketched in. Look at how the focus on the faces of Hockney's drawings below are much more intense than on the rest of the figure. He would also have had to ask the sitters to keep very still when using the device and they do feel rather 'stiff' in response to the situation. 
David Hockney

David Hockney

You can see how to use a camera lucida in the drawing below. You 'see' the image on the paper and in effect trace around it. Any small change in the head's position would mean however that any accuracy would disappear. 

Camera Lucidas

You can still buy camera lucidas, see but they are quite expensive, however for those of you interested in that grey area between camera made images and drawings they can be fascinating devices to experiment with. 


Artist's proportional measuring dividers

Proportional measuring dividers are another tool used to help measure relationships and once measured they can be used to transfer the measurements to a drawing that is either proportionally smaller or bigger than the original. There are short videos here and here that show you how to use them. Again using a device like this changes the way you draw. The measuring points themselves become part of the drawing and as you take the measurements the choices made as to where to take these from further affect what the drawing will look like. Typically you might begin to break a face down into areas of measurement like the image below. You don't of course have to measure in this way, and finding unusual or unexpected points to begin to measure from can reveal unexpected and novel relationships. For instance you can use these dividers whilst blindfold, feeling for the form and plotting the relationships on paper by pricking holes in the surface. 




Devices that were built to help artists with complex perspective could be become very complicated. Looking at the drawing below, we have a situation that could be developed as a collaborative performance concept. 


A pair of Perspective Compasses. In: Adams, George: Geometrical and Graphical Essays, Containing a General Description of the Mathematical Instruments Used in Geometry, Civil and Military Surveying, Levelling and Perspective, with many new Practical Problems. London 1803


The image above of a perspective drawing device from 1803 suggests many other possible drawing machine inventions and could become a starting point for any of you wishing to revisit these ideas. Perhaps of most interest though is the fact that the drawings done to illustrate the devices are really good drawings in their own right. 

Finally, I have found a Japanese alternative to the chalk line. To see how it works see

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