Graphite Pencil Drawing Basics 101
Knowing the fundamentals is essential when learning to draw with graphite pencil, and Lee Hammond shares expert insight into the basics in her new book, Lee Hammond’s All New Big Book of Drawing, which includes tips and tricks for beginning and advanced artists.
Working with Graphite Pencil
Graphite has always been my preferred medium for creating art; in the 1980s, I created the “Lee Hammond Blended Pencil Technique” and began teaching it to small groups; by the 1990s, I was completely hooked and began writing books about it.
The following tools will assist you in becoming a better artist. I’ve seen students blame themselves for being untalented when it was their supplies that were keeping them from doing a good job. Don’t scrimp in this department or your art will suffer.
Mechanical pencils are great for fine lines and details, and you never have to sharpen them. The lead is the most important part, and 2B is my personal favorite. You can also use 4B or 6B with similar results.
Blending Tortillions and Stumps
They work well for blending large areas of graphite with other colors such as ink or watercolored pencils, as well as for small areas of graphite.
These erasers, which resemble modeling clay and are ideal for highlighting in black and white photos, are essential to a blended pencil drawing because they gently lift highlights without ruining the paper’s surface, according to experts at The Pencil Shop in New York’s Times Square.
The small point of the vinyl eraser can remove precise lines and details within your drawing, and they come in a variety of sizes from large tips to micro, and they erase pencil marks cleanly. They resemble mechanical pencils with a click mechanism for advancing them.
Workable Spray Fixative
Spray can be used to seal your work and keep it from smudging when you’re done; it’s also workable, so you can spray down an area and keep drawing on top of it; however, I don’t recommend it for the techniques in my book because it will change the smoothness of the paper.
It’s also important to draw with your work tilted toward you, to avoid the distortion that comes from sitting with the image facing the wrong way.
Don’t copy the exact image; just practice with it. Many photographers own the copyright to their work, and duplicating it without their permission is illegal.
Smooth blending has become one of the most popular styles of drawing in the 1980s. It is not as easy as it appears, but with practice, you can master this technique. The smoothness of your blend will depend on how smoothly you apply the pencil.
There will never be enough blending.
Use a Light Touch for Blending
The lighter your touch, the smoother your blend. Pro tip: Always hold your stump or tortillion at a slight angle to get the best results for a smooth finish.
The 5 Elements of Shading
Each of the five shading elements can be seen on the sphere below. Without a solid foundation of these elements, everything you draw will look flat; your subject will only look three-dimensional when the effects of light and shadow are properly placed.
Because this is where the light is completely blocked, the darkest part of your drawing should be drawn in as close to black as possible; as it emerges from the object, it will begin to appear lighter and more natural-looking.
2. Shadow Edge
This is a dark gray tone that corresponds to No 2 on the value scale. It is the area where an object has protruded and the surface recedes to the other side; it is not the edge of the object, but rather the shadow on the object that shows it has a rounded surface.
This is your object’s true color, unaffected by light, with no shadow and a value of 3 on the value scale.
4. Reflected Light
Look at the sphere above, and you’ll notice a subtle rim of light along the edge of the shadow side. This is the light bouncing up from the surface and coming from behind, and it’s the element most often left out of a drawing. However, without it separating the shadow edge and cast shadow, your object will look flat.
5. Full Light
Let Lee show you how to turn a photo reference into a beautiful graphite pencil drawing in this free video demonstration! This is the part of your subject that receives the most light, and it’s No. 5 on the value scale, where the tones fade gently into the white of the paper.
I always tell my students to analyze and replicate the tones, but it can be difficult to judge the values in your reference photo and determine whether you are close. To compare your tones, use this little trick: Take two small pieces of white paper and punch a hole in each. Place one over an area of your reference photo and compare the tones.
Backgrounds and Edges
Graphite is a foundation medium, and the gray tones it produces allow you to fully explore and understand the importance of value and the five elements of shading we discussed earlier. Adding tone to the background is one way you can use value to achieve a better sense of depth in your drawings. Notice how the dark backgrounds affect the look of the shapes below.
Background Makes a Difference
When the sphere is placed in front of a toned background, its edges appear different than when it is placed in front of a white background. Always ask yourself if you are blending light over dark or dark over light when drawing.
Hard and Soft Edges
The soft edge is found in the curve of the shadow on the rounded surface of the cone, while the hard edge is created where the cone overlaps the background and touches the table.
Start practicing now that you know the basics of graphite pencil! Lee Hammond’s All New Big Book of Drawing is a compilation of the artist’s 40 years of teaching, with more than 80 step-by-step projects and tips for both graphite and colored pencil drawing.
How do you do sketching with pencils for beginners?
How to Draw with a Pencil in Four Simple Steps
- Make an Outline. Draw the basic shape of your object, but don’t worry about realism here.
- Add Tones and Textures.
- Refine Your Drawing. If you’re just getting started, a photograph is a great reference because it won’t move or change on you as you work.
What pencils do you need to start drawing?
The best pencils for drawing and sketching are an HB, 2B, 6B, and 9B, which are far better than buying a whole set of pencils that will be used only a few times.
Can you teach yourself to draw?
You can learn to draw as long as you can hold a pencil; even if you lack natural talent, you can learn to draw if you practice frequently; and anyone can learn to draw with enough motivation and dedication if he or she believes in himself or herself.
What are the 4 types of shading?
Smooth, cross hatching, “slinky,” which can also be called hatching (I think slinky is more fun), and stippling are the four main shading techniques I’ll demonstrate.
What should I learn to draw first?
After all, any object you see around you can be constructed using one, or a combination of, three different shapes: A circle u2013 a sphere is a circle in three dimensions. A square u2013 a cube is a square in three dimensions.
What pencils do professional artists use?
Artists’ Picks for the Best Drawing Pencils
- BIC Velocity Max Mechanical Pencil, Thick Point (0.9mm), 2-Count.
- Faber-castell Pitt Graphite Master Set.
- Koh-I-Noor All Metal Lead Holder.
- Koh-I-Noor 2B Leads 5.6mm (Pack of 6).
Do pencils matter in drawing?
It doesn’t matter if you’re an architect, a professional fine artist, or just learning to draw; a good graphite pencil is an essential part of any artist’s supplies in most creative fields.
What pencil is best for outlines?
When transferring an outline to pastel paper using tracedown, I recommend using a HB Pencil or even an F Pencil if you can find one.
Why can’t I draw from my imagination?
Because drawing isn’t as simple as you thinku2014it’s made up of many different aspects (which is how different styles can be created despite the fact that there is only one reality), the method you use for drawing from a reference may be (and probably is) very different from the method you use for drawing from imagination.
Is drawing a skill or a talent?
So, is drawing a talent or a skill? Drawing is a skill, which means you can learn to draw even if you aren’t talented; it will take more time and effort, but in the long run, non-talented artists usually outperform talented artists.
Why do my drawings look bad?
When you talk, your logical, language-dominated left side of the brain is engaged; when you learn to draw, you often need to temporarily suspend judgment and try not to second-guess what you think the object should look like, rather than what the object actually looks like.