The two portraits shown above are ones I completed using pencil during my gallery art career. Pencil allowed a beautiful rendering of realist portraiture.
See how the large shapes were first lightly blocked in, then the contours were sketched, and last lines were straightened and accentuated.
The straight construction lines help a lot when you are drawing the symmetrical object model whose two sides are alike; such as straight lines help you draw the ovals properly.
”Is a top larger than the bottom, or not?”
“Are the sides straight and parallel, or are they slanted?”
“Do the top and bottom lines slant or are they horizontal?”
“Do I see a true circle, or an oval?”
Be sure you really know the shape of the model before you draw a line on your paper. Look carefully, be sure of what you see, then draw it. These are the fundamental steps in making a good drawing.
The straight lines help you draw the shapes that you seem more easily will stop block them in likely.
The final touch darkened some of the contrast lines for interesting accents.
More About the Author › Visit Amazon's Ryn Shell Page
Revision of a previous lesson
Artist's Way of holding the pencil.
Do not grip the pencil tightly like you do when writing.
Also hold the pencil several inches away from the point.
Pencil should be able to be pulled out of your hand easily.
Revision of a previous lesson
Place your drawing board in position (see previous drawing lessons) and you are ready to begin.
Do the warm-up, exercises on this page to get the feel of the pencil. Use firm, sweeping pencil movements for these lines and strokes.
First your lines may not look much like the examples shown here. But with a little practice, you will soon be able to draw them with reasonable success. Don't tighten up __ don't draw each line slowly and tedious __ don't use short, timid strokes. Make your pencil glide across the paper.
1/long, smooth, strokes. Draw each line with one sweep of the pencil. Try pencil position B or D.
2/Swing the pencil, in the circles. Use pencil position, B or E. for many circles, fill pages of practice paper. Soon yours will be smooth and round.
3/horizontal and vertical lines __ line them up with the edges of the drawing paper.
4/finally some slanting, lines.
5/and looping curves.
Strokes and Shapes.
Now put some of these lines together.
1/horizontal and vertical picture frame
2/circles large and small with some lines accented, (darkened) with a 3B pencil.
3/lines with verticals make a box ... a house. Sketch very lightly until you get the right slant then darken the line.
4/Draw round circles... you can do this easily now.
5/Next __ swing an oval.
Then a thinner oval __ still thinner___very thin indeed.
To draw a flower pot.
1/"vertical and two horizontal lines. Add slanting lines. Swing oval in top and bottom. Accent with the darker pencil. Draw a daisy, without lifting the pencil.
Begin to work using a still life model.
Each of these outline drawings was done directly from a model. Notice how the lightly sketched, construction lines were used.
Draw some long smooth steady strokes horizontally across a sheet of paper; freehand, do not use a ruler.
Draw each line with on sweep of the pencil.
Try pencil in position B or D.
With your drawing board in position and your B pencil sharpened, you are ready to begin. Practice the warm up exercises shown here to get the feel of the pencil. Use firm sweeping pencil movements for these lines and strokes.
At first, your lines will not look much like the examples given here, but with a little practice you will soon be able to draw them with reasonable success.
Draw circles. Swing in big circles, use pencil position B or E
Make many circles, fill pages of practice paper.
Soon yours will be smooth and round.
Then swing the circle the other way.
I come from a family of creative artistic people and all those I knew aside from my sister and myself, did themselves a great deal of harm by neglecting their bodies health through a life of sedentary work due to an obsession with their art. Artist's can be healthy and creative but it requires learning life balance, something I am constantly working at.
Hold the pencil firmly but lightly 2" to 3" above the point. Never grip the pencil tightly. In drawing your hand needs to be loose to move freely over the whole paper so you work with sweeps of your hand and arm.
Practice these hand positions; I will give you some pencil movement exercises next. "Happy drawing."
Position B/ This is good for Shading.
Position D/ Hand resting on the backs of the finger.
Position E/ Hold pencil more loosely than for writing.
The Artist’s Way of Holding the Pencil. Position A/ Gliding on the little finger.
Hold the pencil firmly but lightly two make sure your hand is 2 to 3 inches away from the point and you do not have a vice like grip on it, as that would restrict free movement and while it might allow you to write it prevents the flowing movement across the page required to draw well.
Position A shows the artist resting the little finger on the paper and holding the pencil loosely between thumb and the top two fingers then drawing by sliding the hand along the paper guided in the distance away from the paper by the little finger. If you are covering a small area, you can just swing the hand, from the wrist, if covering a larger area, swing the arm and slide the pencil along using this little finger as a guide.
Practice makes perfect. It is a myth to believe that we are born talented. We may born, with the desire within us to apply ourselves to things we love, learn and practice harder at some things than others, less interested in them, might do and so we become talented. Every one of us has a strong creative urge, we are all, artistic. Some of us have just developed these skills, more than, others. If you want to become an artist, you can. You do not need to be talented to start, you need to have the desire, to learn and practice. it is your teacher who needs to have the talent to show how, explain why, and constructively critique the students work, in order for you to advance.
Try the various methods show here and get someone test your grip, if the pencil is tugged by the free end, it should be able to be withdrawn from your hand. Your firm grip should only be firm enough to hold a pencil without any counter force, still in your hand; it should not be so tight as to stop an external force from removing the pencil from your grasp. It is easier to master this if you are a beginner than if you have been holding a pencil incorrectly to draw for a long time. There are lot’s of advantages to being a beginner and learning the right way, the first time.
The way you hold a pencil to write is very different to the way you hold it to draw. You will find some positions suit certain pencil marks more than others do. When writing you only make short hand movements in drawing your pencil moves all over the paper and you may be swinging your entire arm, not just your hand.
We will be learning now to do free sweeping movements across paper using your not only your hand but your arm, now you are really needing all those newspapers and scrap papers you have been collecting to practice free movements with the pencil and varied pencil holding positions.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Kathy Shell is available as your tutor, for on line, art tuition advice.
In the next lesson, I will describe these pencil-holding positions. It is important to get the beginner lessons down pat, regardless of where you are at, beginner, intermediate level or advanced, it still always pays to check if you have learned the basics correctly as even a slight improvement in pencil grip position will improve your drawing ability.
Arrange your position so that the edge of the drawing board is resting against the edge of the table and the base of the drawing board in your lap.
In this position, you can move your arm and hand freely. Some people prefer to work with the drawing board resting flat on the table, but this is a cramped position that prevents full freedom of movement. Sometimes I use a tilting drawing table and I stand in front of this or wok from a tall drafting stool.
Fasten the drawing paper to the board with drawing tacks, clamps or masking tape. It is a pleasant surface to work on if you place 2 to 3 sheets of paper under the work paper to cushion it. Any clean paper can be uses as padding. This makes a softer surface that accepts the pencil well and prevents any dints or marks appearing in the board, which might then affect further drawings.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Be prepared to use up a lot of paper in your practice sessions. I once asked an, experienced artists I was having private tuition with, to show me how to do something. When he showed me, I exclaimed in glee that ‘I now knew how to do that’. He quickly ‘put me in my place’ by telling me that ’40 years of doing that is how you learn to master it’. I went home and every night used up every sheet of the newspaper, practicing the technique over the top of the news advertisements.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Lesson One ` Drawing `Materials`
Use a soft firm eraser for erasing pencil lines. An eraser, which is too hard, will scratch the paper and ruin it for drawing purposes. Use a very soft art gum or soap eraser for cleaning up the paper. In an emergency if you do not have a rubber in the studio, you can use a piece of fresh (it must be fresh), white bread, as a substitute eraser for cleaning up all smudges and finger marks after finishing a drawing or removing the construction lines in a water colour painting.
Kathy Shell, Art School
Lesson One, Learning to Draw.
Part One.Basic Requirements
Artist’s pencils are made from an inner core of graphite (not lead) and they are of a superior quality to the average pencil used for schools, offices and home use. Expect to pay around $4. to $8. for a single high quality artist’s pencil, (2010 Australian prices), if you wish to work with the best tools.
The inner graphite core usually referred to as the ‘lead’, comes in various degrees of hardness, from the extremely hard, 9H (more often used by drafts persons than artists), through to a very soft , dark ad easily smudged, 6B, more suited to a painterly blended style of drawing by fine artists. See my portrait of Leanne above and this portrait of Sean and son David, below .
Both these works relied on the use of a 2B easy to erase pencil for the initial construction lines, a 2H to clearly mark the drawing once I was certain of the positioning of features then the shading was produced using a full range of the softest and most easily blended of the pencil grades. I consider this a painting once I move into the soft graphite pencil stage and away from the hard pencil line drawing, hard graphite pencil sketch stage.
The hard graphite makes a paler grey mark and the softer the graphite is the darker it is and usually the thicker the inner core, as thin soft cores break easily.
The extremes of 9H and 6B require the most skill to use so the average art student will find the grades of 3H, B and 3B the ideal to learn with and these are the grades most often used by the artist when sketching. In the home, school and office the HB pencil, the one centered between the degrees of hardness and softness, s considered the most versatile. Interestingly artists rarely work with the common HB pencil. You may enjoy experimenting with the grades on either side of the standard, HB and you will love the feel of a quality artist’s pencil in your hands. I use Bruynzeel, deign pencils as my preferred choice.
Next lesson will cover other drawing materials and sharpening pencils.