I never cease to be amazed at how many ingrained habits surface during my drawing classes. No doubt some of you have them too. The habit I’m on about today is putting a strong outline on a drawing once you have finished adjusting a sketch to your liking. I can imagine the automatic thought process- “Yep, that’s right. Now to firm it up and make it proper!”
In class this morning Lee-Anne, my longest standing student, asked “Do you think they have an outliners anonymous?”
Outlining automatically, because you think it’s the right thing to do, is NOT a great idea. If you are after a stylized, decorative drawing then that’s wonderful. Then outline deliberately, because you want to emphasise the lines and not out of habit. However, if you wish to render your subject in traditional 3D then strong outlines are not your friend.
The quality of your lines should vary depending on whether you wish to show a light or dark edge, or make things come forward or recede. Tones that change depending on shadow and light do not need outlines. The change between one tone and another does not need a line to emphasise it. Strong lines tend to make your drawings look flat instead of three dimensional.
Oh yes. Strong lines are also really difficult to erase. Even if you’re sure that you’ve made all the adjustments you need to, chances are you’ll need to change something.