line contours

Imperfect pages

Bodleian reader Sarah Gilbert happened upon some interesting, imperfect pages when examining a manuscript at the Bodleian Libraries. We asked her to write about the experience.

In the medieval period in Western Europe, books were copied by hand onto specially prepared animal skins. The animals used for this purpose in the British Isles were sheep and cows, and in order to turn their pelts into pages these animals would be killed, their blood would be drained, they would be skinned, and then these skins would be soaked and stretched, scraped and dried, and polished and trimmed to make them into usable pages.

Jesus College MS 37, a copy of Iohannus Diaconus’ Vita Sancti Gregorii, is a manuscript with some very unusual pages. A few of its folios preserve faint traces of their animal past in the form of stained blood vessels.

Such stained vessels are very rare - transparent vein structures can sometimes be seen on a manuscript page like contour lines on a map, but to see the vessels still outlined in blood is much more unusual, and is possibly the result of the animals being bled too slowly after they had been killed.

Making parchment was a skilled job and sometimes imperfect pages were used in medieval books simply because the skins, however flawed, were too precious to waste.

As I was reading Jesus College 37 I was very excited to see such an unusual manuscript phenomenon “in the flesh.”

- Sarah Gilbert, Bodleian reader.

BOOF! finally got that FtM makeup tutorial out! works for cosplay, or everyday. short, sweet, and more of what to do, and less of why. Mostly just makeup procedure, and some handy tricks to increase the manly. 

and for supplementary material, this is the guide that i base 70% of my method on:

(alterations for my method: sharp line cheek contour, no highlight in the inner eye, extended cheek highlights, highlight along the jaw top, as well as shadow on the bottom, darker areas under the eye and in the corner of the eyes.) 

Tuesday Tips - Life Drawing Exercise: CONTOUR LINE

One of the most straight forward tip I have about Life Drawing. It kind of goes against what most life drawing instructors will tell you. The first thing you’ll hear is “Draw from the inside.” A contour line on a figure drawing is about the most superficial way to approach it BUT, it will help you tremendously at finding a clear silhouette. By the way, no one says you can’t slightly alter the silhouette you are looking at. If there’s a way to make it clearer or make a better statement, go for it. Drawing is about making decisions, not just copying what you’re seeing. The same way other techniques will help understand how the body functions, using a contour line as an exercise will help you find proportions, angles of the body and general appeal in your posing.


hey since it’s a Hot Topic on my dash right now i want to give some reminders on how to clue in if artwork is traced or not

featuring a stock photo of a dude i traced!

weightless outlines with no confidence: a traced image will, very frequently, be outlined in a way that focuses too keenly on the outer lines and most obvious contours. with a lack of understanding of how the anatomy underneath actually works and how line weight can contribute to dynamics, the figure will look stiff and lifeless and somewhat blobby. 

the left is traced, the right is referenced. there are not only differences in the overall outcome, but the lines are more organic and show a bit of confidence in where the stroke was going.

this example is from a photo, but the same applies to tracings of other drawings. if someone is not actually familiar with the anatomy or even making an attempt to eyeball it, it will show through solid and meticulous lines that form a stiff figure.

incongruous styles and skill levels within a drawing: one of the best (and funniest) indicators is when the artist attempts to deviate from the image they’ve traced to add their own touch. this is usually most obvious in the hair and hands; their work will feature a keenly detailed and anatomically correct face and torso but the hands by comparison will be incredibly amateur, and the hair will look completely pasted on, often with a wildly different style of lines (or lacking them entirely). the shading will also typically lack the same understanding of structure as the lines where it looks almost right, but not… quite.

hair not matching the rest of the style is probably the BIGGEST clue.

does not match the artist’s other work: improvement happens, as do style changes, but it is a gradual process. if an artist typically struggles with proportions and full bodies but then one day posts a dynamic, exciting pose? be suspicious. doubly so if the style seems awfully different from their usual, and triply so if future pieces are back to looking like their usual quality.

the artist refuses to share tips or stream: this one is the least likely warning sign; some artists may just lack the self-esteem to think their techniques are worth sharing, and i personally refuse to stream because my ADHD makes me tab out of art every 5 minutes and i would make a horrid streamer. still, when combined with these other traits, it is worth taking into consideration why they’re so guarded.


sometimes they’ll try to throw you off by posting WIPs with fake guidelines. spoilers: real WIPs from people who know what they’re doing dont look like this

and while not a clue-in, they will frequently flip the image they are tracing to throw off the scent.

anyway, art that looks amateurish like this and has thick lines lacking confidence or hair that doesn’t match isn’t always the sign of someone who traces. but these are some of the major warning signs. spend your commission money safely!

addendum: tracing is not bad as a learning tool, but be honest with your viewers. do not sell traced work, you wingdings.