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View Full Version : Why artists are advised to squint



tashirosgt
2010-Feb-13, 08:15 AM
In another thread, member 01101001 gave the interesting link:

http://cvcl.mit.edu/hybrid_gallery/gallery.html

which illustrates how squinting or viewing an image at a smaller size can change our interpretation of it.

This reminded me of the fact that many books on drawing advise the artist to squint. For example, the old book http://www.painting-technique.com/painting_4.html has the passage: "Nearly close the eyes, and draw the 'shapes left' between the fingers ..."

When I am trying to draw a person from a photograph, I sometimes print out several copies of the photo at various sizes. But I find it maddening how different size prints of the same photo can change my impression of how a person looks. I think 01101001's link finally makes it clear to me why this happens. I don't completely understand why squinting should give an artist a superior understanding of his subject matter, but I do understand why it would give a different understanding than viewing it with eyes wide open.

clop
2010-Feb-13, 09:24 AM
In another thread, member 01101001 gave the interesting link:

http://cvcl.mit.edu/hybrid_gallery/gallery.html

which illustrates how squinting or viewing an image at a smaller size can change our interpretation of it.

This reminded me of the fact that many books on drawing advise the artist to squint. For example, the old book http://www.painting-technique.com/painting_4.html has the passage: "Nearly close the eyes, and draw the 'shapes left' between the fingers ..."

When I am trying to draw a person from a photograph, I sometimes print out several copies of the photo at various sizes. But I find it maddening how different size prints of the same photo can change my impression of how a person looks. I think 01101001's link finally makes it clear to me why this happens. I don't completely understand why squinting should give an artist a superior understanding of his subject matter, but I do understand why it would give a different understanding than viewing it with eyes wide open.

I think it's because it narrows your field of vision and flattens the image i.e. it removes the parallax between your eyes and presents you with the image as if it had been projected onto a plane, without the influence of the surrounding shapes and lines, which is how it would be captured on photographic film and therefore how you should draw it.

clop

jokergirl
2010-Feb-14, 08:20 AM
I think it's because it narrows your field of vision and flattens the image i.e. it removes the parallax between your eyes and presents you with the image as if it had been projected onto a plane, without the influence of the surrounding shapes and lines, which is how it would be captured on photographic film and therefore how you should draw it.

clop

"Should" is something that should be under discussion; but that's a different thread.
Just because some people paint photorealistically doesn't mean it's the only correct way to portrait reality; in fact, most people can tell if an artist worked from a photo or from nature simply by the subtle perspective errors introduced by photography.

;)

aastrotech
2010-Feb-14, 09:05 AM
The reason is; you want to get the shapes right because that is a good guide to putting the details in. The shapes are easier to change and move if you get them wrong on first draw than the details. You can't really move eyes noses and mouths after you draw them in the wrong place. You put the shaded shapes in first, cheeks, forehead, chin, then erase, add, shape them into the right position and shape, then the details to get an accurate picture. You can do it the other way around like when you draw a caricature. You make it look kind of like the person by exagerating some particular characteristic like big eyes, thick lips, strong chin etc. People will recognise the charateristic and say "that's him alright". But it's not really accurate. It's not supposed to be.

jokergirl
2010-Feb-14, 04:09 PM
Correct, aastrotech.

*squints* Two a's? Was I squinting until now or is that a new username?

;)

tashirosgt
2010-Feb-14, 07:26 PM
There is a long standing difference of opinion among drawing teachers about whether "line" or "mass" should be more emphasized. I like the logic of getting the gross features of the drawing correct before getting into detail. However, the link I gave, emphasizes getting the "line" correct and the authors method seems to start with isolated details of the picture. It reminds me of the approach in the modern book "Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain" by Betty Edwards. I've also read that the painter Ingres emphasized lines over masses.

I think the link given by forum member 01101001 points out how the gross perception of an object is affected by the fineness of detail that we can perceive on it. So I understand the point that squinting out the detail would help our perception of the larger masses in the subject. (I wish there was a similar trick in studying mathematics!)

If you are trying to draw a "realistic" picture, the size of the image that you draw is often different than the size of the image that you see. An advantage of photography is that you can often print an image to be nearly the same size as you are attempting to draw. (I wonder whether the "sight size" method of drawing, as a drill, is supposed to train artists to draw in more general conditions. Or is it an activity all to itself?)

RAF_Blackace
2010-Feb-15, 11:55 PM
I think the link given by forum member 01101001

No need to use his full name, 01 is sufficient if you use winzip.

Sorry :whistle:

HenrikOlsen
2010-Feb-16, 02:19 AM
Actually, knowing the generating rule, 0 is enough:)

tashirosgt
2010-Feb-16, 05:23 AM
"0" ? That would truly deserve to be called a "diminutive".