Using Contrast In Design Drawing

Table, Lamp, Plant 2AThese drawings demonstrate how the principle of contrast can be used to highlight design elements.  Contrast is defined as the result of comparing one thing to another and seeing the difference.  It is created in a line drawing by using a variety of patterns and values. In the first drawing the background has a dark value with the objects having a lighter value.  The patterns include a horizontal linear lines on the wall, wood pattern on the floor with a diagonal lines on the lamp, criss-cross on the basket and light stippling on the art work.

Table Value 1In the second drawing the value contrast is switched.  The background is a light value with the table and objects drawn in a darker value.  The patterns include a dark criss-cross on the lamp base, wood lines on the table and a dark value on the picture frames.

Helpful Hint: Notice the drawing below does not have a variety of patterns or values.  The design elements blend together.  There is not enough value contrast to distinguish one object from another.  The values are in the middle range. The patterns mostly stippling  which are repeated too often to create contrast.

Table & Chair 2

8 responses to “Using Contrast In Design Drawing

  1. hmmm…. I see a lot of contrast in the last drawing… just more subtle… not the value contrast of the two other drawings. Sure, some of the drawing methods are similar, but the density of stippling (or lack thereof) really defines form, and there is still a linear pattern on the plant container, some crosshatching on the chair, and another treatment on the lamp base. The only area that, to me, seems to blend with the background are the leafy plants. It’s hard to distinguish them from the piece of art on the wall because both contain irregular lines.

    • Hello Mary,
      Great to get your comment, thank you for taking the time to let me know your point of view. I am interested to read that you find the contrast is subtle. This is helpful to know. I visited your blog and found it inspiring! I will be following it. You are a master at using pattern successfully. I look forward to learning from you! Take care – Stephanie

  2. Hi Professor Sipp! I really love your drawings it has a lot of contrast and meaning to them and it can also teach me a lot when I am in my interior design classes. I just find your work very helpful and inspiring.

    Thanks, Micola

    • Hello Micola, I think it is helpful to have a picture of a concept that you are learning about. I am glad that the contrast image clicked with you. Prof. Stephanie

  3. You do such a great job pointing out how subtle differences (and not so subtle) make a huge impact in how we see and interpret design info. The same elements come across very differently when they possess different textures. I’m excited to learn more about these techniques!

  4. Hi Professor Sipp,
    When I first saw these drawings it made me think of how you can adjust the contrast on your TV or computer to give it a better picture, or display. Its interesting to notice that the same effect in drawing is so similar. But instead of a better picture its just a different one! It also makes me continue to notice the importance of the effect of texture, and how to apply line like i have read about in my text book. Very helpful and inspiring!

    • Hello Zena,
      Glad that you are inspired and learning more about hand drawing. Remember that value is another important element that will help the view see the image more clearly. Enjoy! Prof. Stephanie

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