Drawing Techniques

Other drawing techniquesHere are a few more pencil techniques. The illustration on the left shows a "slinky" stroke that tapers down to a tip. This can be useful in many shading areas.

The illustration on the right shows a "squiggle" stroke. This is sometimes good for delicate shading in small areas, or drawing fabric, or a few other "specialized" textures.

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Small ink sketch

Here's a ball-point pen sketch—the entire sketch (click on thumbnail to see larger image) and a close-up on the cheekbone area. You can see how I used the "slinky" lines, and various other crosshatch lines, going in different directions.

Some lines are drawn darker than others (I bore down on the pen harder to make darker tones). There is also a "method in my madness" when it comes to what direction some lines go in, and how they are shaped. Read my "Rendering and Shading" tutorial to learn more about the concept of "contour lines," and to learn more about where to put your shading on a portrait.



A note about "smearing" (or "blending") graphite:

This has been a popular technique for ages, especially for "newbies." I did it myself for a while, when I first started out. It's done well only occasionally. Usually it just looks smeary, messy, and over-rendered. It can be difficult (especially for newbies) to get the graphite blended properly. Graphite is too much of "lightweight" medium to take smearing well. A richer, more intense medium should be used for such a blending technique, like charcoal or pastel.

I've seen too much smeared graphite artwork that screams "newbie." I believe this is why many of my art teachers wouldn't allow students to smear their pencil strokes. Even when an artist managed to get the graphite blended smoothly enough, sometimes the portrait lacked depth, and looked a little cold and flat.

I'm not going to say that every example of smeared graphite artwork I've seen has had a problem, (there are a some notable exceptions, usually among more experienced artists). But the technique too often has an awkward, over-rendered "newbie" look to it.

In my tutorials, I sometimes work with a a modified, carefully-rendered crosshatch stroke. When used on a smooth paper surface with small, delicate strokes, the effect is a smoothly rendered (but not messy) portrait with a lot of depth and detail.

Check out the "Realistic Pencil Portrait" to learn more about drawing detailed portraits with the crosshatching technique. (Bear in mind, this is not even the most detailed or "photo-realistic" example of pencil crosshatching!)

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