Art From Code: It Does Not End With A Line

I have always loved the manifestations of line drawings; it is fascinating to me that the meaning of each drawing is expressed beyond just some simple lines. As I began coding, I wanted to do line drawings with code to try more new possibilities. I did a series of line drawings and each one of them carried out my style and marked my breakthroughs. 

The first stage of my line drawings is simply figurative. I am used to the idea of making regular faces but in a cartoonish or unrealistic comic way, so I started my journey with the style that I am most comfortable with. Red Lips is the first of my line drawings inspired by 1920s Chinese fashion. I used thin lines to imitate the thin eyebrows, the delicate features, and the signature hairstyle. I was struggling with applying the color of the hair and the face on the drawing, but by adjusting the position of the curve vertexes of the face and hair I found the perfect spot. I deliberately chose to only include three colors in the drawing: black, white, and red. The three colors not only constitute the harmony of the picture but also bring out the colors of each other.  

I keep experimenting within my comfort zone. I decided to use lines as shadows to retouch the face. The Stare was taking a long time to complete because at first, I did not figure out a way to do the line shadowing systematically, most of the shadows took time to adjust one by one like the shadow for the nose. But later I figured out a way to do it more efficiently by incrementing only the x values of each coordinate.  

I decided to step out of my comfort zone and start trying to do more abstract drawings. I tried reducing the lines and details I put in one drawing. I used only one set of curve vertexes to create the face that drew with one single line. I chose to use different shades of blue to create the shadows of the face and the background hence the name of this drawing, Out of Blue. Drawing the face with only one single line tested my layout ability and allowed me to test out the order of painting in one stroke which helped a lot in the following drawings.  

I created 2 pieces that are abstract, one black and white, and the other with colors. During the process of doing abstract drawings, I realized that randomness added a lot more to the drawings and easier to start with.

Therefore, I started with just putting random numbers in the curve vertexes coordinates, then based on the random lines on the canvas I added some adjustments to highlight the distinctive themes and characteristics.  

I wanted to explore new possibilities for my line drawings, and one of the ideas was to make the line drawings procedural. I thought of the process of making something slowly pop up on the screen and it did not take me long to decide that I will start with my favorite element, the eye. I tested out the percentage of transparency for the eye in order to make it sort of inconspicuous at first. And then by generating random lines on the canvas, the eye in the middle became more visible as the whole screen was filled with lines. 

I also wanted the line drawings to link to myself. I wanted to include words in my drawings without withdrawing the audience’s attention from the drawing itself to focusing on the words. To me, the Chinese characters solve this issue perfectly, because the characters are close to figurative. Inspired by emoticons, I integrated three Chinese characters into the painting. They are 囧(jiong, embarrassment and gloom/ bright) 目 (mu, eye) and口(kou, mouth). 

Completing this series of line drawings gave me such satisfaction. Each one of them marked a self-breakthrough and innovation. I am most definitely going to keep making more of these and I am excited to try out more possibilities for line drawings. 

Author: Leyi Li