Practice and refine your drawing skills with these mini lessons.
Techniques and Effects
– Make a subtle gradient value change from light to dark by pressing harder on your pencil. You can go over pencil in layers to build up darks, too.
– Use a kneaded eraser to “lift” light area from a toned area.
– “Soften” graphite with tortillons, blending stumps and chamois.
– Most forms can be composed of basic geometric shapes: Sphere, Cube, Cylinder & Pyramid. Observe the highlights and shadows.
– Try drawing these basic shapes: Sphere, Cylinder, Pyramid
– Cross Hatch Lines & Stippling. Stippling is created with short strokes/taps of the point.
– The “light bulb” above represents the source of light. All the geometric shapes are lighted by this source. The cast shadow falls away from the light. Now change the placement of the light and draw each shape again. Challenge: Try drawing the manikin from variations of these basic shapes.
– Place a textured surface under the paper for a different effect. This example was rubbed over a nylon bag strap. Try using canvas, screening, etc.
– Scribbling is fun! Make lines in different directions to build up value.
– “Scratch” the paper with something that will incise a line, and apply graphite over the top.
Know Your Pencils and Related Supplies
If we took a cross section of a pencil, we would see the graphite inside. Pencils are coded with letters, usually H and B. Think of “H” pencils as Hard and drawing a light line. “B” pencils are softer and draw darker lines – Think of B for Black lines.
Pencils have letters and numbers to describe the level of dark or light that they draw. The higher the number, the more you get of light or dark. Numbers usually range from 1 to 8. An 8H would be very light while an 8B would be very dark. An HB pencil is in the middle.
Blending Stumps and tortillons help soften graphite and create smooth blends. Both come in a variety of diameters. Stumps are denser and have points on both ends. They are good for large areas. Tortillons have a point on one end and are not as dense. Try both to get different blending variations. Try using a “dirty” blending tool to apply graphite for a soft look. These tools are inexpensive and are meant to be replaced rather than cleaned.
Taking it off
The light “H” pencils are easier to erase than the bolder, blacker “B” pencils. There are many varieties of erasers available. Two good ones are a kneaded eraser and a white vinyl eraser. Neither leaves marks or little pieces of the eraser behind. The kneaded eraser is meant to be pulled apart like clay, and it is self-cleaning as the graphite disappears into the eraser. When a kneaded eraser is really black with graphite, replace it. The kneaded eraser can be formed to fit the area needing removal. Bonus: It is a great toy to play with while contemplating your drawing – one of my former art instructors claimed that this was a kneaded eraser’s best attribute!
Keep a Point
A good quality metal sharpener is a great help to keep a point. A paddle of sandpaper can be used to flatten, sharpen, or dull a point into just the shape you want.
Keep it Clean!
Cover and protect areas of the drawing from your hands, arms, etc., or when not working. Don’t allow cover papers to slide or you may create big smears. Wearing thin cotton gloves can prevent oils from your hands from transferring to your paper, and keeps your hands clean.
Have a friend pose for you and draw from real life. Photos tend to “flatten” shapes. It is better to work from life even if it is a challenge with moving bodies. The secret is: PRACTICE!
Loew-Cornell®’s Sketching Set gives you a great beginning!
Step 1: Establish an interesting outline shape.
Step 2: Establish the shadow shape within the outline.
Tip: Eyes are halfway between top and bottom of head with the space of an eye between eyes.
Tip for Success: Don’t be in such a hurry! Taking time to get your basic shapes right before moving on to the details will go a long way toward creating drawings you will be proud of.