Line Drawing

pen and
                  inkPen and ink art has been around for a very long time. Maybe in  the past - before photography - it was a relatively easy way to record the world we see. But today we have cameras to do that, don't we. So why does it persist?

One reason is that the simplicity of pen and ink drawing reduces reality down to its essence and captures the details and feeling of the artist. In other words, it ia a means of communication of something that is beyond the mass of detail we see around us.

In a word, it is art.

Now, with the digital photography and photo enhancement programs  we can do something very much like a pen and ink line drawing. We can reduce a photo to the essence that we see in the subject, and we can draw attention to that essence* by removing everything that distracts from it. We can crate art.  And that is what this project is about.  

This is not an easy Project. The mastery of the technology of GIMP is easy, but the creative part is challenging. You will not become an artist in  a day.

*essence means the basic nature of something
The program we have that will reduce an image a line drawing is GIMP.  But merely taking the step from reducing an image to a line drawing using edge detect does not make it art. That require more than a program; it requires the eye and mind of an artist. Are you ready to try taking the step from technician to artist?

If so begin by mastering the technology.  Here's a place to begin How to convert Photographs to Line Drawings with GIMP

And here's a video

GIMP line
That's the easy part. We already been experimenting with edge-detect in GIMP. The harder part is choosing an image that will make a good line drawing.  So go through your images and select one you think is simple enough  and graphic enough to make a good line drawing. That is the first step. One I've done is below. Thompson Mill

The second step
is to follow the instructions in the website or the video (they describe two different ways to make a line drawing.) and make a line drawing of your image.  Post that line drawing to Flickr.  This is simple and basic and probably not the best image for a really good  (interesting) photo line drawing.

The next step is to get creative.  Not every photo will make a line drawing  or make a good line drawing, and not every photo is worth the time it takes to work on it. It will never really be "art."  So now in this step take a new picture that will not only convert into a good line drawing but will be a picture that captures the essence of something significant.

What might that be?
The truth is art is in the mind and eye of the artist. Art captures the essence the artist sees. My goal in the above image was to capture the lines of this old flour mill. To do that I made it a line drawing, increased the contrast to reduce the grey to white, and then used the erasure to eliminate the  lines that would go out to the edges of the picture. I further reduced the darkness and increased the contrast of several areas of the picture to focus on the mill. Mill

The challenge now for you to choose an image to work of art. Choose something fairly simple but something you like, something that speaks to you. Simple uncluttered images work best and require
less work on the computer to perfect them.

The image from Thailand below is that kind of image. In the process of making this Bangkok streetimage I not only did the edge-detect process but also reduced the darkness of the trees in the background by dodging and increased darkness of the vehicle in the left foreground by burning, but I also increased the contrast of those areas by using the free select tool and then color to contrast and increased the contrast of that area.

Follow the directions in the web page or video and my own description to create something special. Upload that image along with the original to Flickr.

Just for the sake of comparison, I've included the original I began with.


Now go one more step. Create a mixed line drawing with a color version of the same picture.
This becomes a little complicated and will always require experimenting.

The tugboats to the left is the result of two versions of one picture. The first was a line drawing that had a transparency layer added to it.

The second was an HDR image. The first image was tugsselected and copied and pasted to the second. (This is called layering.) Then the eraser was used at a low opacity to erase  the part of the image that has color.  Finally the layers were anchored.

Another alternative is to create a highly colored image and then an HDR version of that using an online HDR program. Then convert that to a line drawing in GIMP, but without desaturating the image. It might turn out like the image to the right.

Here's the original.

Every one of these will be different. You just try various combinations of effects until you get one you like.

Upload one or two you like to Flickr.

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© 2018 Don Camp