Four Reasons Why Black & White Art Is Awesome

(Wow, I spent WAY too long making this little drawing...)

(Wow, I spent WAY too long making this little drawing…)

Well, I thought that I’d talk about black and white art again today. For a type of art that I only really got into making semi-regularly last year, it’s become one of my favourite art styles.

For the sake of clarification, I should point out that I’m talking about art that literally only uses black and white and I’m not talking about greyscale art (which also uses grey). I’m talking about the kind of art you can create using nothing more than a black pen and a piece of paper.

Anyway, I thought that I’d give you four reasons (out of many) why black and white art is one of the most awesome types of art in existence. So, let’s get started:

1) It’s Timeless: Because the materials needed to create black and white art are so simple, this gives B&W art a timeless look that many other types of art (with the possible exception of some types of paintings) just don’t have.

Modern high-budget comic books with almost photo-realistic digital artwork will probably look at least slightly dated in a few decades’ time.

Since graphics technology will have moved on by then, these types of comics will probably end up looking like the futuristic equivalent of old four-colour comics from the 1950s.

Now, take a look at this picture. Go on, it’ll only take a second (unless you’re using dial-up, in which case, it may take thirty). Now, can you guess when this picture was originally printed?

Yes, the outfits in it are slightly old-fashioned, but it still looks a lot like the kind of art that you might see in a modern indie comic. So, when was it made? It was printed in 1918. Yes, you heard me correctly – it was made 97 years ago. And it still looks sort of modern.

So, because B&W artwork only requires fairly simple materials to make – it automatically looks at least slightly timeless.

2) It’s A Good Test Of An Artist’s Abilities: Because B&W artwork requires nothing more than black ink and/or black paint to create, there’s very little for an artist to hide behind. You can’t use fancy image editing techniques in a black and white drawing (although you can edit out mistakes fairly easily in MS Paint).

So, the only thing that appears in a black and white picture is pretty much what you drew or painted onto the paper. And, as such, it’s a good test of an artist’s abilities.

Yes, there are a few shading techniques and skills that are pretty much exclusive to black & white drawing. Although you don’t have to learn shading techniques if you make colour artwork, they can improve your colour artwork if you use them.

Likewise, there are things that you have to be aware of when making a B&W drawing that you don’t have to be aware of when you’re making colour artwork (eg: instead of paying close attention to the colour scheme, you have to pay close attention to the balance between black, white and shaded areas) – but, apart from this stuff, B&W drawings are nothing but the barest essentials of a drawing.

And, if you can do this well, then you can probably do most other types of drawing fairly well too.

3) Imagination: Because you can’t astonish your audience with flashy digital effects or expensive art materials in B&W drawings, you need to find other ways to astonish them.

In other words, you’ll have to use your imagination and skills to astonish your audience. You’ll have to do things like creating hyper-detailed art, using interesting shading techniques, thinking of imaginative ideas and/or coming up with fascinating character designs.

And, well, being astonished by someone’s imagination and skills is far more satisfying than being astonished by whatever image editing program that they happen to be using.

4) Spontanaity: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but since you only need a pen and a piece of paper to create B&W art, it’s something that you can create relatively quickly and create pretty much anywhere.

You don’t need electricity, you don’t need a vast array of art supplies and you don’t need lots of expensive software. Just a pen and a piece of paper.


Anyway, I hope that this was interesting šŸ™‚

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