When people look at my drawings, their first question is often, “Do you use a ruler?” My ink drawings are straight vertical lines. Well, sort of straight vertical lines. Look closely at any of my drawings and you’ll see the lines are a little wavy, occasionally slanted, and sometimes they’re kinda kinky. But no, I do not use a ruler.
Drawings should flow. Lines should be free, varied, expressive and spontaneous. Even though I love the regularity of a fine pigma micron pen, I can still add variety to my lines. I can push hard, or barely graze the surface of the paper. I can draw fast or slow, precisely or loosely. Rulers don’t have a place in my drawings. They’re too mechanical. That being said, I recognize someone may have a style with rulers that works well. More power to them.
I thought about doing a small drawing with a ruler to show you the difference, but that would be tortuous. So instead, here’s a typical drawing.
And here’s some close ups of lines. I used fairly regular lines for the distant shore. Regular lines with no variation in value are good for indicating distance.
On the side of the boat, there’s more variety in stroke and value
The one time I use rulers is when I teach perspective drawing. In fact, it was searching for rulers for my current class that prompted this post. When demonstrating the perspective of parallel sides to vanishing points, a ruler is essential. But other than that, it’s freehand all the way.