“Line is an artistic invention. It does not exist in nature
Chiaroscuro, the drawing method I will teach you to use in this book provides an alternative, and more convincing, way to give the illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface.”
– The artist’s complete guide to drawing the head by William L. Maughan, p. 22
I am purposefully hyperbolic when I say that The artist’s complete guide to drawing the head by William L. Maughan is the best book on drawing I have ever read. Light and dark defines the edges and shapes of three-dimensional surfaces. Maughan uses this insight to create realistic portraits and demonstrates his methods in clear, simple language for all levels of readers. I remember learning about Chiaroscuro from my favorite high school art teacher, Mr. Dan Miller more years ago than I care to admit:) This book goes in depth and fleshes out the technique Mr. Miller tried to teach me long ago.
The reason I say that this book presents a sculptural approach to drawing is that when sculpting, artists must also concern themselves with the application of light and dark to define form. Sculpting is more challenging than drawing in that form changes depending upon the angle you view your sculpture whereas drawing is a single static view. The techniques in this book apply to any realistic visual art which is what makes it the best book on illustrating I have ever read.
Although the book focuses on portraiture on paper, the principles of Chiaroscuro apply more generally to all attempts at mimicking three-dimensional form. Without light and dark to define form, the human eye cannot distinguish valleys from mountains or noses from faces. The artist’s complete guide to drawing the head by William L. Maughan is a clear, concise book with wider uses than just drawing on paper.
The excellent illustration above is by William L. Maughan.