Drawing Techniques and Styles
Here are eight (8) different ways of making values (grays) on your paper using a pencil or pen. After practicing the various techniques you can start to figure out what works best for you as an artist. Be aware that the use of gimmicky techniques can be addicting. You should push beyond the technique to the purpose of the art itself. In this case, the eternal round thing.
Now grab a pencil and draw a circle. You are going to learn how to draw.
- a simple overlapping fill stroke
This is a way to fill an area with value quickly. In a full speed frenzy you can make over 200 strokes a minute. The direction most comfortable for right handed people is diagonally from left to right and back. Hold your pencil like you are going to write with it. The trick is controlling the pressure to achieve the tone you want, overlapping each stroke closely to have unbroken tone, and starting and stopping each stroke accurately to define the form you are drawing.
- a favorite technique for sketchers
Holding your pencil pinched sideways, you use the side of the lead in rhythmic back and forth strokes to lay down grays.
This technique is usually executed loosely and quickly and it helps you focus more on tonal masses than contour lines.
Smudge and Erase
- getting your hands dirty
If you take the scribble or sidestroke and moosh it around with your fingers the texture will smooth out and soften.
The pencil is used to deposit graphite areas on the paper where they are smudged into submission.
An eraser can be used to retrieve lighter values, shape areas, or add highlights.
- more thought, less work
If you can only pay attention long enough for quick impressions maybe a broader pencil line may be in order.
A flat sketching pencil can work like a portable set of gray markers for drawing. Broad sweeping strokes of gray can be laid down quickly and loosely while you gather your visual information.
- straight lines in a row
Using a sharp pencil the area is filled in line by line. The motion is like the scribble but you lift the pencil tip before you loop back and start the adjacent line.
The density of the line groupings define a value by how close or far way from each other the individual lines are.
This more refined technique is usually reserved for more "studied" drawings, where you want to understand a form more fully.
- drawing lines on lines
When you overlap singlestroke gray-valued layers you create a crosshatch of lines that combine relative values into a darker value. Outlines are optional.
The flow of the lines in crosshatching usually conforms to or accents the form being drawn in relation to the rest of the drawing.
Thick 'n' Thin
- the line IS the value
This manner of representing value and form is gimmicky but effective. It is a defined style of drawing based on the way engravings represent values as linear elements with width variations that reveal details in the form, texture, and lighting. See kevin sprouls
work, he has mastery of this technique.
This is an image process. An image process is something you can execute perfectly and still have a bad result if the underlying drawing is bad.
- gradual controlled build up of dots
Another cliched but effective technique for depicting grays is laying it down dot by dot, varying how close the dots are to each other.
This style grew naturally from the mellow grays achieved on mezzotint plates, values created by manipulating great bands of printable dots.
Dots, points, stipple, and halftone image processes have been popular with illustrators and in the work of fine artists such as Georges Seurat
, Roy Lichtenstein
, and Andy Warhol