Pencil Drawing - How to Get Started
Pencil Drawing - Tutorial No. 1
How to draw in pencil. Getting started is often the hardest part and so this guide to pencil drawing and pencil drawing techniques is designed to point you in the right direction.
I've devised a few exercises in pencil drawing to help you get the best out of your art materials, to show you the range of pencils available and to highlight the different qualities that you can bring to your pencil drawings.
You'll explore how many types of line you can produce, and how many different tones and textures you can make using pencils. We'll also touch on using an eraser as an art tool.
These are the art materials you'll need: a sketchbook, a range of pencils, an eraser and something to sharpen your pencils. You'll also need a bit of time and enthusiasm.
This is your first exercise in honing your tonal awareness, so lets see you drawing with a pencil now.
How To Draw in Pencil
If only it was that simple!
This is more of an how to learn how to draw in pencil! There are so few rules to learn in art and the student finds it discouraging to be told that they can't be taught to draw by mearly learning 'the tricks of the trade', but rather that they must learn by example, work, practice and perspiration. Talent, I'm sorry to say, also plays a part.
Having said that drawing, like any other skill or trade, can be learnt and so can the use of the tools, in this case, the pencil. This guide will help you to get going by showing you the sort of range that can be produced with pencils.
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Each drawing pencil is labelled according to how hard and soft they are. I use this range:
- 3H - very hard
- 2H - quite hard
- H - hard
- HB - this is the 'normal' pencil that you have around the house
- B - softer
- 2B - softer still
- 6B - Very soft
- 9B - I've never used a 9B!
What you do need is a range of pencils from the hardest, and so the palest and finest, to the softest and darkest so that you can achieve a range of lines and textures. Sometimes you'll use a pencil sharpened to a keen point for a fine, biting line, and other times you may want a nice, rounded end for a softer feel.
If you look below you'll see the tone exercise that I've carried out to use as an illustration and I used a variety of pencils gleaned from around the house. What I did notice is that the texture changed from one make of pencil to another, so, because pencils are quite cheap, it might be better to invest in a whole set from the same manufacturer rather that do what I have just done!
In reality, you won't be doing exercises, but working on your own drawings, and I expect that, like me, you'll gather together a range of materials that you like personally - not necessarily 'sets'.
No need to buy posh boxes of pencils like this, but if you do they'll last you a very long time!
Use Large Graphite Sticks with Your Drawing Pencils - Add this to your art tools
When you want to draw on a larger scale, I find these large sticks of graphite useful for blocking in areas of tone.
Buy one good craft knife. I bought a Stanley knife that has shown me excellent service over many, many years. Use this to sharpen your pencils, although you can also use a pencil sharpener. You'll need this knife to cut cardboard, paper, mounts and all manner of things. This is going to be one of your basic tools.
I like to have two types of eraser, the puty rubber, and a harder, plastic eraser. Your eraser is an important art tool.
Go to The Art School Shop for more information about materials
The Drawing Handbook - learning from the Masters - By Ettore Maiotti
This little book is excellent, taking you through stages logically and carefully. It tells you everything you need to know about drawing from how to use an easel to drawing from the figure or drawing animals. It's illustrated with a range of nice drawings in various media. If you want to buy a 'How to Draw' book, then this is a good one, and I'll be using it to put together some of my tutorials.
A Drawing Handbook - If you need a 'how to draw' book, then this one is excellent
Project No. 2
Exploring the pencil
Drawing Pencil Lines - 'Variety is the spice of life'
Take your pencils, ranging from hardest to softest, and see how many different lines you can produce. You can vary your lines by having a sharp pencil or a blunt pencil, or a flat'ended pencil. You can draw with the tip, or the side or you can start a line with the tip and graduate to the side.
Use the Eraser as a Drawing Tool - Put texture in with an eraser
As children we are used to using the eraser to eradicate errors. Ok, it is sometimes useful for that, although at art school we were taught to incorporate errors into the drawing - after all Leonardo da Vinci did. The Italians have a word for these linear memories, 'penitimenti'.
Instead of removing, try using your eraser to add texture and variation. See what you can do by rubbing the lines softly, passing the wide end of the eraser over the line or attacking the line with the sharp edge of the eraser.
Play with your materials.
Tones and Textures - Try out your pencils in patches of tone
Now repeat the exercise in patches of tone. See just how many different tones and textures you can squeeze out of your pencils. Use your sketchbook and make a note of which pencils you used as this will stay in your sketchbook for future reference.
Do remember, this is essential work and should be kept to remind you just how rich a pencil drawing can be.
Modulating Patches of Tone - Tonal drawing in pencil - How to use the eraser
Produce another sheet of tonal patches of drawing and then see how you can extend the tones and textures using the eraser. As with the line drawings, try rubbing the pencil down gently with the rounded end of the eraser, rub vigerously, rub over with the sharp edges of the eraser. See how many different variations on a theme you can make.
Tone Exercise - Tonal drawing with a pencil
This is why this tutorial has taken so long. I had to carry out this exercise myself and it did take time. I'd like you to take out a good few hours, sit down with as many of your pencils as you can from 3H to 9B. You can see that I've skipped pencils as these were the pencils that I could glean from around our house.
The aim of this exercise is to develop your eye for tone and your manual skills.
Begin with an A4 sheet of drawing paper - ideally use your sketchbook. Draw a grid of squares. Each square should be about 2cm x 2cm. It should be 9 or ten squares wide and make it as many down as you have pencils. Start with the hardest pencil and mark the pencil type of each line. Work from the hardest to the softest.
It would be best if you can use pencils all by the same manufacturer as I found the textures changed from one make of pencil to another. It would also be nice to see a complete run of pencils from 3H - 9B - although this is a tall order, don't I just know it!
Try to achieve the following:
- Make each square even in tone (note I started in the top left hand corner and these are often darker. Try to avoid this!)
- Horazontal strip: Make each step from one tone to the next an even step
- Vertical strip: Same here; make each step from one tone to the next an even step
- If you achieve this the diagonals should also have even steps
- Do this work in good daylight
- Set aside a good few hours and take your time
- Sit somewhere comfortable where you can concentrate and not be interrupted (if possible)
- Start off light. You can always go back and darken your squares
- Avoid using the eraser. Firstly it's difficult to erase the pencil accurately, secondly, using the eraser changes the nature of the paper so when you add more pencil, it will look different from the adjacent squares.
Test your Results by Looking Through Screwed -up Eyes - This simplifies the tone
This is one of the most important thing to learn - screwing up your eyes!
Screw up your eyes, (no matter how old this makes you look or how much you fret about developing wrinkles!), and look through your lashes, as this simplifies the tone and colours and allows you to see through the detail.
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