Touching VS Overlapping Lines Fun & Easy Tutorial


Some news about Fantasy Landscapes:
I’m working on setting up a Facebook Group where I can post challenges and people can share their fantasy landscapes.  Only I’m going to call the group ‘Life Imitates Doodles’ Fun & Easy Landscapes’.  I chose Fun & Easy after doing some research to see how often ‘Fantasy Landscapes’ is used, and what it is used for.  It’s crazy of me, but I’m going to change Fantasy Landscape to Fun & Easy Landscapes going forward.

Have you ever drawn something, and looked at it, thinking “Something’s wrong with this, but I don’t know what?” Duh.  Who hasn’t?

Well, today I’m going to discuss a problem that might be the problem. And the problem is not the problem. The problem is your drawing of the problem (sorry, I couldn’t resist misquoting from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’).

When you are drawing, you are a magician who transforms a series of lines into something that resembles real life.  As with all magic there are tricks to help fool the viewer. One of tricks is to make sure objects overlap instead of just touching each other.

Look over these examples, and then I’ll try explain what’s going on.

Forgive me – this write-up gets a little talky, but I think it’s important.

Normally, I don’t use the words good and bad to describe a mistake.  Most mistakes aren’t – you just think they are.  But in this case, we’re dealing with the way the brain interprets what it sees.

The brain looks at drawn lines and tries to find something familiar from real life.  It does the same with clouds and stains on the wall and cracks in the sidewalk.  So the trick is to draw lines that help the brain find the familiar instead of confusing it. You don’t give the brain a choice.

When two objects overlap it gives the brain familiar information – the object in front is closer and the one behind is farther away. That is how your brain will interpret it.

When the two objects only touch each other the information could be interpreted two ways. That means the brain has to make a choice.

Look at the drawing above and:

  • Find the bunny touching the top of the bush.  Is he behind the bush or sitting on the bush?
  • Find the bunny touching the bottom of the bush.  Is she in front of it or carrying it on her back?
  • Find the bush that is touching the bottom of the road.  Is it in front of the road or pushing against the road?

The brain tends to be lazy. If a choice occurs with a major focal point or there are too many choices like that, the brain will just reject the drawing as impossible.

There are exceptions.  Rows, mainly.  If you have a hedge row, or a line of people holding hands, they can touch without overlapping and the brain will be perfectly happy.  Because row objects touch in real life.  Patterns can also touch.  If you are drawing a Zentangle-Inspired artwork touching might be preferred to overlapping.

Abstract art or Escher-like art with its playful interpretations of perspective, often mess with real-life perspectives. Such things might confuse at first, but soom the brain knows that it won’t find direct comparisons to real life.

So what if bunnies in your fun & easy world DO carry bushes on their back? I’d add straps or something to help the brain understand.  But most of the time, you should keep things simple, and remember the magic trick.  Make sure objects overlap instead of just touching.

Don’t stress about this.  If it happens, it happens, and it will.  But next time you look at a drawing and think “What’s wrong here?”,  I suggest looking for touches where you should have overlap.

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