September 30th, 2000

****************************************************************'s Insiders Communique


In this issue - 

1) The Picture Plane

2) A fantastic little drawing aid

3) Making a permenant record of your "Vis-a-vis" marker drawing


1) The Picture Plane

Today I'd like to introduce you to one of the funnest little tools I've ever 
seen used for both demonstrating the "picture plane" and for collapsing the 
three-dimensional world into two. But before we get to this great little 
tool, let's answer the first question that pops up: What's a picture plane? 
Before we do that, I'll do a super quick review...

Let's do a super mini review of how the human eye perceives any image. 

Light is the basis of all vision. No light, no picture. Sunlight, 
incandescent light, any light source casts off light. The light travels in 
relatively straight lines from the source into space until it hits an 
object. The object reflects back some portion of the light. Lets say the 
light hits a yellow canary. A yellow canary absorbs all the color of the 
spectrum except the yellow light. The canary bounces this light back into 
space. This reflected yellow light passes back through space until it hits 
something - like your eye. The reflected yellow light passes through the 
eye's pupil until it strikes the retina. The retina encodes the light 
information, converts it to nerve impulses and the scene is reconstructed 
in the visual cortex of the brain (actually in the occipital cerebrum - at 
the very back of the brain). 

The picture plane

The simple explanation of a picture plane (because there's a more 
complicated explanation), is a place where light rays both converge and 
pass through a given, arbitrary distance from your eye.
I know, that sure doesn't explain much. 

Your picture window is a picture plane

Let me give you a really simple example that'll demonstrate: your picture 
window. Your picture window is perfect "picture plane". Look out your 
picture window or any window in your house. Imagine the scene you see as 
made up of light bouncing off those all outside objects (other houses, 
trees, hills, in the distance the curb in the road, animals, anything that's 
within your range of view). Light is pure energy, it's not passive, it's 
zinging around out there in front of your house at 186,000 miles per 
second. So when it come through your window, it isn't waltzing along. It's 
barraging your house, it's wailing through your picture window.

Move closer or farther from your picture window and the scene changes some 
but the window is still acting as the "filtering plane" - it remains fairly 
constant. Your picture window is a picture plane. 

When you draw a picture, your drawing paper acts as the "hard copy" version 
of your picture window. Your paper is opaque - the window's transparent but 
both can be used to collapse the three dimensional outside world into two dimensions. 

Beach Balls?

Now, picture this. There's a beach ball sitting in your front yard. You're 
looking at it through your picture window. Imagine you have a magic marker. 
I want you to draw the beach ball as you see it through the window - and I 
mean draw it RIGHT ON THE WINDOW! Yes, you're going to draw on your window. 
(OK, you can pretend.) Close one eye and with your finger (or if you're 
truly gutsy, a magic marker), outline the beach ball on the window. 
Including the little square colored shapes.

Here's what you're really doing: you're recording the reflected light rays 
from the beach ball as they pass through your picture window, aka the 
"picture plane". And when an artist views or "sights" an object he makes 
reckonings often with the familiar "thumbs up" gesture - with arm fully 
extended. He's forming his own picture plane. It's as if he's standing in 
front of the picture window at a distance of one arm's length. Is this 
starting to make sense? 

2) A great little tool

So what's this great little tool? It's a piece of Plexiglass and a Vis-a-vis marker. These two together are the best tool I've ever seen for making sense out of the link between the two dimensions of drawing, the three-dimensional world and the picture plane - because the plexiglass is a picture plane itself!

Assignment: we're going to draw your hand

Ingredient number one: buy an 8 and 1/2 inch by 11 inch sheet of clear, stiff 
plastic. Plexiglas is fine, even a small piece of plain old glass is fine 
(I'd just be very careful with the glass if you use it). But any strong, 
transparent material will do. Most hardware stores have something that'll 

The second ingredient: a black Vis-a-vis marker. (Vis-a-vis markers are 
water soluble and wipe off any glassy or hard plastic surface with nothing 
more than a tissue or plain water. They're made by Sanford.) Any art store 
or business supply store will have these.

Support the Plexiglas with your non-drawing hand. Support it from underneath 
so that all five of your fingers are touching the underside of the 
Plexiglas. You're essentially balancing the Plexiglas on your fingertips 
with the Plexiglas parallel to the floor. Hold it so you're looking down on 
it and you're viewing the palm of your hand through it. 

(See the attached picture and it'll all become clear - I drew this picture 
literally in about 30 seconds - they're that easy to do. Well yes, I've done 
them before :-)) 

With the Vis-a-vis marker do a contour drawing of your hand. Go into all the 
nooks and crannies and skin creases. Wipe the Plexiglas clean. Do a second 
drawing with your hand in a different position. Then, if you're feeling 
adventurous, draw any one of the caricatures, or last communiqué's "shadows 
of the nose" illustration. 

3) Want to make a permanent record of your drawing? 

Once you've drawn a picture on your make-shift picture plane, lay it down on 
a table. Go soak a handi-wipe with water. Very gently wring the excess water 
off the handi-wipe. Now very carefully lay the moist handi-wipe over your 
marker drawing (it needs to be a water-soluble marker for this to work.)

Carefully press the handi-wipe over the Plexiglas drawing until it's smooth. 
You could even put a book over it for an added printing press effect. Give 
it ten or 15 seconds. Now lift the handi-wipe (more like peel the 
handi-wipe), from the Plexiglas and Voila! You now have a permanent two 
dimensional record of your three-dimensional hand. And this is at the core 
of what drawing does: collapsing the 3-d world on to 2-d paper. 

Pretty cool, eh? :-)

Until next time, keep on drawing! 



Kasbohm & Company's

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