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The Secret Curve

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Using convex vs. concave lines in life drawing.

There’s a little secret in life drawing that not many artists know about. If you know about it you’re already using it, if not, you will start after reading this article.

It can be our little secret. 

Here it is: If you want your figure to have a natural look, use convex (outy lines) and not concave (inny lines).

Why? Everything alive starts as a molecule and begins to grow. Growing is an outward motion. As things grow, they begin to take on a bulge toward the outwards or convex.

(I think my stomach adopted this law too personally.) 


When things cease to grow they begin to collapse and we see concave lines forming. Just look at a sick un-watered plant all shrivelled and withered.

Convex lines are strong and powerful. Concave lines are weak and create a sinking feeling and unless they are needed for an artistic purpose they should be avoided.

Let me show you how this works...

Using convex lines will give your figure drawing a lively feeling. Conversely, concave lines portray a feeling of weakness. Nobody knows this better than Disney. Let’s use our old friend Scar as example. Scar was drawn with concave lines to show he was weak and sickly. Simba (the good guy) was drawn with convex lines to show his strength and health


Apply this concept to life drawing...


Note how the major curve of the body (the blue line) is made up of three outward lines, not one inward line.This is what creates strength in the drawing.


Outward lines portray volume.

Notice also that what one side does so must the other. If one side curves outward than so does the opposite side, or the drawing will look awkward.


Extra Tip: This little secret works for landscape painting as well…

Here is our old friend Aldro Hibbard. In his painting the inward curve of the land is made with multiple outward lines, which helps the landscape portray upward rising hills of powerful nature.

Hope this little secret helps you attain a natural feel to your work.

Happy Arting. :)

Your friend in art, 


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