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Pencil drawings have a beauty and quality of their own. No artist scales great heights without practising pencil drawings or with charcoal sticks.Pencil sketches fascinate us from childhood.Regular practice with pencils is essential for an amateur artist and also for cartoonists. Equipment Pencil drawing and sketching require the simplest of equipment:have a pencil and a white or lightly colored paper.Have an eraser and pencil sharpener...that is all. Types of Pencils: You can have a range of pencils: Soft ones: B,2B,3B,4B,6B,8B....You dont need all these ,may be B,2B and 4b -three pencils will do. Hard ones: H,2H and so on.Just H will do for most work. Above all, bulk of the work will be done by the daily #2 or HB pencil.This is a 'compromise 'pencil....You can use this one only most of the time and perhaps soft ones to make sweeping strokes and some shading. You can also use mechanical pencils [0.5 mm or 0.7 mm leads] for quick work.Carry this always in your handbag.Used envelopes are great for quick sketches. You may like to know what pencil brands are good for high quality 'professional" pencil drawings....well ,over the years I have tried several brands of graphite pencils: Generals,PrangDixon,Steadtler,Fabre-Castell....My favourite has been Steadtler...But the difference between this and other brands may be very small.If other brands are less expensive,go for them.[Among colored pencils,you have a wide choice.See my article on colored pencil drawings in Scribd.com] I am a bit of a stickler for good quality erasers.Do not use red,rubber eraser.Use white eraser or better,"ART GUM" eraser or kneaded eraser for smooth erasing. As for pencil sharpener,use simple hand-held one.May be ,you can have a battery operated electric one.The choice is yours. Papers: For professional quality drawings,use the papers made by Rising,Stonehenge,Strathmore,Bristol, Canson, Fabriano and others.The papers must not yellow ,be 'acid-free' and the paper must withstand some rubbing by eraser. Preserve the pictures with a spray of fixatives from art supply stores. There are very thick pencils and also flat pencils used by carpenters or triangular shaped pencils for children..If you wish to hold easily for big drawings,try thick ones.Any school supply store has all these. Size of drawings: In the inital stages,draw big ones;give your hand free movement;dont attempt 3in x 4 in.....Start with 9inx12 inches or bigger...Your aim should be to capture big,bold areas of darkness and light.Look for big 'masses'...details will come later.If you draw two or three big objects to depict ,rest will follow..For instance,draw a big basket with one or two fruits sticking out. Tonal Values The biggest advantage of practising pencil drawing is to learn to see and depict tonal values [different shades of darkness or greyness] in a picture.This you learn from pencil work ,because the aspect of color does not confuse or distract you. While artists make detailed analysis of tonal values, keep it simple.I suggest 5 levels: 1First look for really dark regions and draw their contour on the sheet with a thick,B pencil.[say deep shadows under the eye socket or nose in person standing in bright light or the sun;shadow of chimney on the roof,;dark window,shadow of trunk of a tree; 2 Second, look for white or bright regions;draw their contours...Later you will leave them blank...do not touch pencil there.! 3 Third: Look for zones of middle values---this is important...There will be several small
patches of mid -tones;mark them carefully. Now take pencils and shade or cover the dark areas,marked 1 and later mid tone areas.Take your time.This establishes the values 1,3 and 5 [1 dark areas,3 mid tones,5 white areas.] BY now the picture you wanted might have emerged from your paper.! 4 Fourth: Now go for those areas which are not very dark, but darker than mid-tones.Call them value 2...Gently fill them with some light pencil...take your time... 5 Fifth: Now go for those areas lighter than mid tone but not really blinding white...Cover then with a HB or H pencil.. This practice helps you to understand what tonal values are and how they affect your picture. But don't be rigid in thinking about values 2 and 4....It is enough if you capture 1,3 and 5 carefully. An easy way to start is the study light and shade around any large house on a sunny day...observe the tonal values of the roof,side walls,front wall & door,the shodows cast by the house on the ground...Draw these for at least 4 or 5 houses...Again do this for a car parked on a sunny street.---You will earn a lot about tonal values. Then practice tonal values of familar objects in a still life arrangement,with a table lamp near by.Change the position of the lamp and try again. Accenting and Outlining Outlining is easy.You may outline the wheel of a vehicle with a thick line all around.That is what children do all the time.Do this sparingly in a few places.Suppose you are drawing a house...you may outline the door and the windows are thick rectangles....Fine... Accenting is a subtle work.Look for dark lines or small areas and make them thick.You may accent the dark hairs of a girl's head.Accent the eye brows only at a few places.Accenting is never a complete line.Draw short strokes or 'lost and found' lines. Go over the dark outlines you have drawn and accent now part of the line...Look for dark areas or lengths there. Shading and Cross-hatching Shading or hatching achieves tonal values with a few parallel lines.Try shading part of the face ,say near the cheeks and one side of the nose.Shading is so powerful that you can build a picture with shading alone.Use a dark pencil if required....Cover large areas quickly with shading. The best way to learn shading is to study the pictures of masters--both classical artists and modern ones.Also see how cartoonists shade their cartoons--often they are in a hurry to do it fast. Cross-hatching means after you hatch with parallel lines in one direction,slightly alter the direction.To achieve dark tones,use hatching with perpendicular lines. Learn to hatch with wavy or curved lines--say to depict waves on water and shadow regions... Shading/hatching and cross-hatching should be practised a lot if you want to draw portraits and figure drawing..Subtle effects can be achieved in drawing cheeks,forehead,neck, breasts ,thighs, buttocks,calf muscles--with this technique.
For still life drawing and portraits, keep the background simple and not that sharp---slightly 'out of focus' as photographers do to bring out the main objects in relief.A few pencil marks will often do for still life and portraits.You can also give a light grey background with HB or B pencil. Some like to give a light outline of a fimiliar object in the background,say a wall clock or calender or just a rectangular outline of a window or window screen or window sill..Do not clutter the background with too many details..There are some protraits with very dark backgrounds to focus on the main person,who is a very important person or character.Suppose you draw a portrait of Lincoln or Einstein or an old lady with lot of wrinkles in the face,you can darken the background... For scenic ,landscape drawings, pay much attention to background...In fact the background should merge with the middle ground...Again the general rule is that the objects in distant background should not be sharp with thickly outlines...thin lines would do.This gives the feeling
of distance or depth in the drawing. Still Life Drawing Drawing still life is a regular habit for most artists.Nothing is easier that drawing still life with a single pencil at home.Draw pots and pans in the kitchen,fruits and vegetables, altar pieces ,and furniture.Many great artists draw old furniture, old barn and old bridges..village homes and tall buildings are still life objects.Study the tonal values carefully.Go round the building or cottage,choose a view that captivates you.Much depends on light and shadow at that time. Portraits and Figure drawing Both are easy with pencils.You need to practice a lot.We are told that Degas made nearly 2000 drawings before painting those gym-girls and ballet dancers. Nothing comes easy in drawing protraits...Practice,practice,practice...sketching now and then helps......May be you can practice with drawing your pets--cats,dogs,horses and so on.Drawing dolls and statues help too. As a traditional artist, I would strongly discourage you to use photos with lines scribed on them like a graph paper and transfer them or trace them....You cannot 'learn' to depict threedimensional objects with two dimensional photos.But , I agree, that there is a place for such work in 'making portraits' quicky.But that is not 'learning art".The joy of drawing or painting is lost in such mechanical processes. You can use black and white photos for outlines and noting tonal values.Keep it one hand and draw with another hand.But dont copy that as such. Masters Learn from masters: Durer, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Holbein,Ingres,Degas, Matisse and so on....especially the trio:Ingres,Degas and Matisse...Spend some time in the local library and browse through their drawings in large size prints...or go to museums in your place..I liked to roam around Met Museum in NY and other museums there...again in Florence,Chicago or Paris or London,you have great museums to see great paintings and drawings. a careful study of masters will reveal many secrets to you. Yet, you must practice with your own hand and your own genius.! Books There are literally hundreds of books available...Dont waste too much time on these..I suggest only two for a beginner: Gene Franks---Pencil Drawing The Pencil Box--a collection of articles from the Artist magazine.[North Light Pub] Please leave your feedback on this article in my email box: nksrinivasan at hotmail dot com. ---------------------!$&)$#@!^&*())$#@!&+%$#@@*(&%-------------