Tone, Shadow & Shape
In this lesson we are going to explore the use of your pencil to create differing tonal values. This will be accomplished by the variation of pressure on your pencil while you are drawing. For pencil illustration you may choose to use more that a 2B pencil. You may want to explore the different types of pencils available to you. The HB through 9B range would be the best for drawing and illustration. The harder pencils HB through 9H are used more for drafting and mechanical drawing. That is not to say that they cannot be used in drawing. These pencils do make very interesting lights in high key drawing.
In the portrait of "Allan a Good Friend" I used a single pencil to do all the different tones. It was a Faber Castell, DESIGN EBONY, jet-black extra smooth.
The main techniques that I used in this drawing was accomplished by a combination of crosshatching, scumbling and smudging with tissue paper in the large open areas and a paper stump in the close areas. Sometimes in drawing what you take out is just as important as what you put in. Notice how I used the kneaded eraser on the lenses of the sunglasses and the body and bridge of the guitar to create the illusion of reflections. Click on the graphic to see a larger version.
Try drawing an object that you really like and look at it with an eye to shape and design. Don't look at it as an object. See only the difference in light and shape. A good way to accomplish what I am talking about would be to squint your eyes as you draw to help blur the object so that you will see only the shape, shadow and light. A few examples of objects to practice this technique on are a car, some fruit, a favorite toy or stuffed animal, glass vases, your house or family. This is by no means an all-inclusive listing just a few ideas.
In the example below I use a five-tone range. Not every artist uses a five-value system some use a three or four value system and others use more. It just depends on your personal style and the illustration you are rendering. I will usually draw the tonal range bar that I want to use for a particular illustration on the bottom of the paper that I am drawing on or on an outside area that will not be seen but will be hidden by a mat board or frame. This way I can keep my values within a specified range for the particular piece I am working on. This is very important in portrait work to keep the composition interesting and balanced.
This is one of the pieces I have done with the pointillist method. As you can see you can get very realistic. However this method can be used for any type of drawing. The main reason I use this method is the very fine control I have over the entire drawing. I can use very subtle tonal values to create the illusion of the fur and facial features.
Before we get into tonal values I think we should discuss shape. Basically there are basically three shapes or variations of these shapes that comprise everything in nature. These shapes are the circle (orb), triangle (cone) and square (Rectangles and cubes).
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