Friday, August 05, 2011

Drawing from a photograph doesn't usually work for me, but this was an exception.

Drawing from a Photograph
West 16th Street, New York City

I like it more than the photo I started with.

Photographs and drawings are as different as apples and oranges, and it's usually best to keep them separate. Photographs express form through tonality and drawings express form through line. Nevertheless, I've occasionally experimented with trying to turn photographs of mine into drawings -- sometimes totally freehand, sometimes with mechanical aids -- and the results have usually been dreadful, stilted drawings and awkward renderings. Since a drawing isn't a photograph, it's all too easy to get led astray by the original. This is one of the few I was pleased with.

It's from a photo I took during a memorable family trip to New York for the Bicentennial, during which all three of us saw Queen Elizabeth up close in person, among other things.

As I recall, I traced the main outlines from an 8x10 BW print (I'm terrible with geometric relationships), used transfer paper to transfer to a drawing pad, and then filled in the rest freehand with pencil.

Scanner Note: The scan (view large on black) was made on my iPhone 4 with JotNot Pro, a scanner app that's the best 99-cent investment I ever made. It uses the camera's phone to make faxes, PDFs or jpegs, which you can email or fax to yourself or others. With halfway decent lighting, it makes PDFs of documents every bit as good as a scanner, and in less time. If you shoot a document against a contrasting surface, it will automatically compensate for camera angle distortion and square off the corners -- and if its guess is wrong, you can do it manually with a couple finger swipes. Works with photos and art too. Some of my apps are fun toys, but this is a really useful tool.

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