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Old 09-07-2018, 11:05 AM
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kat_skinner kat_skinner is offline
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Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

I noticed online that a lot of artists do graphite pencil studies of plants when not painting. Iím trying to improve my skills and thought this was a good idea. I know that sketching is good to practice my drawing skills, observation, tonal recognition, learning about plants and so forth.

Last night I did a sketch that took about 3 hours. It was about 20x15cm in size. Is this size good for a study or should I work smaller/larger? I want to try and do a study as much as possible - ideally completing at least two a week.

Do you do graphite sketch studies, or in a different medium? How long do you spend on each, and at what size?
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Old 09-07-2018, 12:31 PM
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kat_skinner kat_skinner is offline
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Re: Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

This is the sketch I did today. But tough but with practice Iím sure to improve!
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Old 09-07-2018, 01:39 PM
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Charlie's Mum Charlie's Mum is offline
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Re: Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

Hello Kat, and welcome!

Whwen I first studied plant drawing (many, many years ago!) I did everything in pencil - so the medium is up to personal choice - pen/ink is another good drawing medium.
I'd say 20x15(8x6") is a reasonable size for a small study - as long as it allows you to place the plant and still include the detail which characterises the particular plant.
Try to keep it clear, to understand structure/formation ....... a sketch (for me) is usually fairly quick and catches the essentials rather than the details -a drawing is more of a detailed study....... so this, I say was more of a drawing!
Aim for good contrast, keeping highlights white - and those placed next to the darkest tones will provide drama and what is now commonly called 'pop'!!

You're off to a very good start in all aspects!
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Old 09-07-2018, 02:44 PM
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kat_skinner kat_skinner is offline
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Re: Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

Thanks for the reply!
You are right: itís more of a drawing than a sketch all part of the learning process.

Iíll keep doing the studies at roughly that size then. I had considered going smaller in an A5 book, but I think thatís a bit too small to work easily. My concern is going bigger will take too long.

Not too long after starting this drawing I realised I took my light tones too dark too fast, and the tonal range wasnít as wide as I wanted. Iím going to order a bigger range of pencils 6H to like 9B (or similar) to make it easier. I was using HB-6B for the above drawing and was a bit heavy handed.

Thank you again!
Kat
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Old 09-07-2018, 06:22 PM
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Re: Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

Here's a test for you - try using a B pencil and do a block of shading from extremely light to very dark - good practice!
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Old 09-07-2018, 11:56 PM
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Vivien Maloney Vivien Maloney is offline
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Re: Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

A warm welcome to the Forum!

Yes I agree with Maureen, it does look more like a drawing than a sketch, and is a very nice drawing. A sketch usually has a sketchy look about it and is rendered fairly quickly, whereas a drawing can take heaps of time to complete and there's always more detail in a drawing.

If you are intending to keep drawing in graphite, you need to make a tonal scale with a B pencil going from a very light tone to the darkest tone you can make. It will help immensely in getting a good range of tonal values.

Have you given any thought to entering our Plant Parade Monthly Challenge?
There's always a new plant Theme and a different Host every month, so lots of variety. You can draw/paint using any art medium and to draw something for the Challenge would be excellent practice for you....and lots of fun too!
The Plant Parades can be found as a Sticky at the top of our Forum Page and "Reveal Day" is not until the 25th of the month, so still lots of time to enter if you are interested. Check out last month's Plant Parade to see how it works.
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Last edited by Vivien Maloney : 09-08-2018 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 09-08-2018, 09:47 AM
emc1024 emc1024 is offline
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Re: Graphite Study Sketches: What Size and How Many Hours?

One thing I've started doing is making my sketches and studies roughly the same size as the final piece so that I don't have to worry about messing up my proportions or perspective when I transfer to the watercolor. As to media, it depends on what preparation I'm doing. Structure or contour is done in pencil. Value and form are done in pencil or charcoal. Charcoal, especially the vine, is wonderful for large studies. Granted, you don't get very dark, but the ease with which the material can be applied and shaped makes up for that. In other situations, where I'm trying ideas with color fields, I've worked with conte.

I'd second working with tonal value if you continue with graphite. Some other things to try would be varying the pressure and the place where you hold the pencil. And the 8B & 9B pencils are so much fun to work with.
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