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Gradation of Line

Albrecht Dürer's pencil drawing shows how an economical use of carefully controlled line can suggest fine detail. The gradation of curved lines in the hair, beard and around the contours of the face build up convincing textures and a solid three dimensional form.

Durer’s control of line is clearly visible in the fine gradations of confident, complex curves in the build up of hair texture. Delicate contour shading broken by understated areas of simplicity keep the drawing interesting.

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) “Head of Bearded Old Man – Saturn” (1516)

The growth lines on the horns of this mountain sheep show an interesting linear gradation. As the animal ages the length, diameter and shape of the horn changes.


The linear gradations around the horns document this evolution in much the same way growth rings on a tree trace its history.

Mountain Sheep showing Linear Gradation © John Lovett 2015

Mountain Sheep showing Linear Gradation

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