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The line is one of the most basic entities used in drawing. The straight line has two fundamental properties: * Length - Naturally, the length of a straight line is the distance between its beginning point and its end point. * Direction - A straight line also has a direction. Its direction is determined by the angle it makes with a horizontal or vertical line. So, when you want to draw a straight line you need to think about two things: length and direction. Then, you also have to develop a technique to actually draw that line. A pencil artist seldom uses a ruler to draw a straight line. Lines are drawn free-hand. And this takes quite a bit of practice. In the end you should be able to draw straight lines and parallel lines fairly quickly and in one stroke. The idea here is to swing your arm from the elbow as opposed to from the wrist. You can use your wrist for tiny lines or other small details. But generally you keep your wrist and lower arm fixed as one unit and you rotate your elbow as you draw the line. This movement happens quite fast. Also, hold your pencil any way you want, i.e., the way you are used to it. To measure the length of a line you can use the following procedure: * First, you choose a Basic Length Unit. It is the length of a line segment that is not too long and not too short relative to a scene. We will choose two such basic units: 1. Life Unit - First, we choose a basic length unit for the real scene you want to draw. For a large life scene you can do this by holding a pencil at arms length with locked elbow. Then, with one eye closed, you can measure a basic unit (not too long and not too short) with your pencil using your thumb as a marker. Draw this line segment on a separate piece of paper. 2. Paper Unit - Now, you also need a basic length for your actual drawing. This is because the size of the real scene will usually be different from the one you will render on your paper. Again, use your pencil to choose a basic length unit suitable for the size of your paper and call it the Paper Unit. Draw it next to the Life Unit. Now we are ready to use these two basic units. We use the Life Unit to measure any length on the real composition. We express these lengths in terms of the number of Life Units. For example, you will speak of this table leg being about half a Life Unit or this hat sits 1.5 Life Units to the left of that umbrella. Dont forget to make the measurements always in the same manner, i.e., at arms length, with locked elbow, and with one eye closed. Next, you take your Paper Unit and multiply it by the ratio you just obtained with your Life Unit. For example, on your paper the table leg will measure 0.5 times the Paper Unit or the hat will sit 1.5 Paper Units to the left of the umbrella. Thats all there is to it. Then there remains the technique to measure angles: * Angles are measured relative to the horizontal and the vertical. If you work on rectangular paper you can use its vertical and horizontal edges as a reference. The angle you observe in your life composition will be the same on your paper. No ratio involved here. Again, you can use your pencil but this time align it horizontally (or vertically) and estimate the angle a particular line makes with your horizontal or vertical. This technique requires some practice but after awhile youll get a feel for angles. After youve drawn the line you can check of the length as well as the angle seem right to you. It is remarkable how quickly the eye gets trained to detect incorrect proportions and angles. But it does take some time and practice. Note that curved lines can be considered as a linkage of small straight lines so that the same techniques can also be applied in an approximate manner to these curved lines. The above tips should start you off in the right direction with regards to dealing with lines.
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