» Harold Speed: Drawing with Dither
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Harold Speed: Drawing with Dither



Today we are going to take a closer look at Harold Speed’s words of wisdom. He was a talented artist and even a better teacher. One thing that stuck out to me is his quote about drawing with dither. What is it? Well, let’s take a closer look!

In his excellent book “The Practice & Science of Drawing” (free PDF Download) he talks about the life of a drawing.

“There must be enough play between the vital parts (of a piston) to allow of some movement (life); “dither” is, I believe, the Scotch word for it.” ~ Harold Speed

“There must be the smallest amount of play that will allow of it’s working. And the more perfectly made the engine, the less will the amount of this “dither” be.”

“It has always seemed to me that the accurately fitting engine was like a good academic drawing, in a way a perfect piece of workmanship, but lifeless. Imperfectly perfect, because there was no room left for the play of life.”

“It is difficult to explain what is wrong with an academic drawing, and what is the difference between it and a fine drawing.”

“The word ‘dither’ will be a useful name to give that elusive quality, that play on mechanical accuracy, existing in all vital art. It is this vital quality that has not yet received much attention in art training.”

(all of the quotes from above are by Harold Speed.)

So you see, it’s great to make master copies…these “Imperfectly perfect” academic drawings that would make your grandmother proud. But, you eventually need to learn how to add life, the elusive quality, to your drawing. Who am I to talk, I’m still learning to draw “well,” but I understand what Speed is referring to. Originality (see Day 133) and style (see Day 122) would surely come soon after the comprehension of dither in your art.

That’s it for today everyone, just a quick bit of inspiration! If you’d like to see more Harold Speed Articles please follow the links here…(see Day 311)(see Day 351). Lots of examples and inspiration. See you next time!


Drawing by Harold Speed.


Drawing by Harold Speed.


Drawing by Harold Speed.


Excellent books by Harold Speed.

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