Welcome to "The Dark side of Drawing!"
In this lesson, we will discuss ways of putting MORE darks into your drawings and look at how to use a "Value Scale".
I will first give you the old saying: You need dark to show light and light to show dark.
I know a lot of us have a fear of going
too dark in our drawings as we think those dark areas will be tough to correct. This is really not the case as we do have erasers
for that! Using the correct grade of pencils will make those corrections a lot easier. Some people use just one or two pencils in
their work but I believe having a wide range of pencils will make things easier as far as getting the right values in your drawings.
I have a couple of different sets of pencils that range from a 9h (hard lead) to a 9b (soft lead). I may not use them ALL but it is great
to know I have them if I do need them down the road. Please note that I am not here to critique what you draw, but to help you with
using the right tools to get darker values in your work and will answer your questions the best I can.
On to the Lesson!
My first demo will show you how I use my pencils in relation to a Value Scale. I start by creating my own value scale by laying down
and labeling all the different grades of pencils I have to work with. Once this is done I can compare my pencil samples with the Value
Scale I am using and try to match those areas as close as I can. These will NOT be perfect as the tone of the graphite will not be an
exact match to the Value Finder! When I find a close match between the two I know have a record of which pencil will give me the best
result for the specific value I am looking for as I have each one labeled. Also note that different brands of the same grade of pencil will vary
in values. A 4b pencil from one brand name may be different from the same 4b of another just as when working with inks the intensity
of black inks will vary. So, it is important to work with the SAME brand name throughout so your drawing shades will be consistent throughout!
See examples below:
As you can see in the example above, the 9b actually looks lighter (it should be darker) than the 8b above it. The 9b is a Derwent brand and the 8b is Staedtler.
These samples were made using a medium pressure on the pencil. I would also like to let you know that when using a harder lead be careful
of the sharp tips, as they can leave a dent in the paper. A sharper tip also gives you a darker line as you can see with the 4h and 8h samples.
I left those in there so you can see the result of using a sharp tip when shading. It's best to use the hard lead pencil with a blunt end or on its side for shading. Use a light touch when working with hard lead pencils to avoid damaging the paper! The Lyra Soft example is the darkest and the softest lead. It is a lot like charcoal and can be messy to work with, but gives the best results for getting the darkest values! I would also like to mention that PAPER is very important when trying to up the values in your drawings. Using a really smooth paper will not give you very good results as that paper doesn't have much tooth to it therefore not much graphite will adhere to the paper. It's best to use a paper that has some tooth to it and will accept more graphite when shading, giving you the ability to build up more darks in your work (see paper article link in the Field Trip area). You can also use a workable fixative spray on a drawing to give it more adhesion and create some darker shades/values. Be sure ALL your whitest highlights and midtones are in place before you spray as once you do spray it will be very difficult to erase those areas!
The Value Scale
This is the value scale I use. There are many different types and brands out there, so find one that suits you!
Place your value scale over your photo to find the closest match and find that match on the pencil scale you did. You should now have a
good idea of which pencil to use for that particular part of your drawing! See photo below:
Layering for darker values:
Below you will see an example of creating darker values by layering with 2 pencils. I used just a 4b and 2h pencil to create this example. The layers are listed in the order they were laid down. Using a 2h over your 4b is a way of blending with a pencil instead of a tortillion.
As you can see in sample 3, after spraying the graphite with a workable fixative, the far right is much darker the the example above it.
For your first assignment
PS: the text in the above example shoud read: The last example was done like the 2nd
, I would like you to make a value scale using the pencils you are working with now (hopefully you've purchased a 2b and 4b), whether it be one, two, three, or more. Be sure to label each value as I did above. Varying values can be done by increasing or decreasing the pressure you place on the pencil. I just want to see what you are currently working with and it will give you an idea on what values you can create with the pencils you have.
The second assignment
will be for you to purchase a few soft lead pencils (if you don't already have them). I would recommend at least a 2b and 4b Having a few hard lead pencils to work with would be great too but not really necessary as blending can give you some of those lighter values. Once you have your pencils, I would like you to post a drawing that you would like to add more darks to along with a reference photo if you have one. If you'd like to start a new one that's fine too, but try and do one that is in need of some dark values so we can work on them. The purpose of this part is to get you comfortable with using softer lead pencils to create those darks that might be lacking in your work. If you have a color photo, please convert it to black and white as it will be much easier to work with in that format. Please try and choose a photo that has some fairly dark values in it. Areas of total black would be good!
Here are a few pics from the WC Refference Library that I feel would be good to use for this lesson:
Below is the drawing I will be working with for this class.
If you'd like to do the same drawing let me know and I can post the photo
When I start a drawing, I like to lay in most of my darkest values first as I feel this gives
me a better way to gauge the light and mid tones in the rest of the drawing. This is my way
and you can try it or not. Just do what you are comfortable with