Art From Code: It All Starts with a Line

“A thousand readers get a thousand different stories when reading the same book;” This was my mother’s theory whenever we disagreed. When I was younger, I always thought that was just my mother’s excuse to get out of an argument without admitting that I was right; but I have never agreed with my mother more now every time I contradict myself. Thanks to my mom I can reconcile with the dissenting voices in my head and learn to embrace all the opinions I have inside my head and that was my inspiration for the collection of my art: It All Starts with a Line

I started drawing when I was a child from the influence of my artistic father. The world you can see from his artwork is black, white and lines, The contrast of light and dark and the emotions of the characters are all outlined by him with these three elements. I thought there was only one way of art, my father’s art. Everyone learned from imitation, and I was no exception, Line, Black and White was my understanding of my father’s art. I first started with a simple Loop triangle. Then, I tried out different kinds of possibilities by plugging in different values in order to get different shapes of the triangles. When I plugged in different values to generate random coordinates for those triangles, the outcome always surprised me. In order to make my artwork more interesting, I added a couple of rectangles using the same method in Loop and it created an interesting image. Both these two artworks created a sense of space that is in between surrealism and realism, the straight lines and the shading give away a rigid feeling which is a connection to my father’s art. 

I have tried to recreate my father’s drawing, but I have never been able to; part of the reason was I got tired of the dull colors and realistic style. So, I gave up clinging to those black-and-white lines and wanted to find my own style. I got inspiration from the cartoons and animations I have seen. In the world of cartoons and animations, anything could happen, the most common things we have in real life can give a completely different feeling by changing the colors and shape to make it stand out. This type of drawing realizes my imagination because of the bold choice of colors and the unconventional design. My motive for creating the sidescroller,  The Chasing Game, was to create an irregular world full of imagination. I first started with the background, I used simple lines and bright yellow for the stars and the moon that were inspired by the simple settings in 2D animation. By using circulation, I created a loop where the ghost is always chasing the butterfly. To make the sidescroller more fun, I created unusual flowing clouds by changing the amplitude of the sine function. In order to make my sidescroller more random and a little eccentric, I added an interactive eye in the sky that opens every time I press the mouse. 

Now that I found my own style, I wanted to combine this style with my father’s. That is when line drawings come to my mind, using my father’s favorite element, the lines; and combining it with my style, the colors, and unrealistic characters. Inspired by Jean Cocteau Poteries by Jean Cocteau, I decided to use different colors of lines in my line drawings, Chloë. At first, the process of drawing the face and the hair was hard for me. Using curve vertex and Bezier curve to locate each coordinate on the face was especially hard because I could not visualize the lines as I was drawing and with the unfamiliarity with the coordinate space, it was also hard for me to adjust the coordinates to where I wanted them. The tricky part of creating the hair was overlaid. Drawing the hair line by line and adjusting the curves could be very time-consuming, in order to solve that problem, I used what I learned in creating Line, Black and White, I used loop to create multiple lines for hair at the same time. I drew the different body parts on different canvases and then printed them all out and connected each part on the wall, like doing a puzzle, that was the most challenging and fun part. 

I was extremely interested in doing line drawings after I finished Chloë. I want to make more line drawings. Inspired by Jean Cocteau, I am determined to use more color in my next line drawings. Also, in order to enrich the content of the drawings, I want to try to use different colors as shadows to express the highlight and shade of the character’s face. I will also try to combine the idea of collages and line drawings by using the collages to express the shadows on the character’s face and express the theme.  

I experienced a whole new unique way of making art from coding and it was very fascinating to learn how to make my artwork into animation. This project represents a story of finding oneself, it represents a process of me growing up and a process of me trying to break through my limits. Although I broke down several times or wanted to give up in the process of making these works, the result of these works is always satisfying after persevering. This collection means a lot to me because it contains what art appeals to me, inclusive and creative. The works formed by absorbing other people’s artistic styles and adding my own style are to me a story of a person’s growth and a presentation of one’s character, which is why I love art so much. 

Author: Leyi Li