Another cross-hatching exercise

This time I copied the shadows of a pumpkin flower. While drawing, I changed the ink cartridge and the second was a bit lighter, but I am not unhappy with the result. Still, what I want to achieve is a finer mesh (then I need a finer pencil or pen).

Flower copy

First exercise with colour pencils

Yesterday I was looking for a recipe in a cookbook about fish, and my drawer’s eye went to some of the many good pictures that show various fish species, and of course the prepared dishes. One seemed quite easy to be reproduced with colour pencils, and so I picked up my very heterogenous set of pencils (some from my childhood!) and started drawing.

I was once more surprised at how slowly, but surely, the whole shape of the fish emerged from the small colour patches I kept filling, one next to the other. The mental process is definitely twofold: first, I observe the full image or live subject, decide which part I will draw, then I start drawing the first shape (of medium size: from that one, all the proportions of the drawing are set) and by a sort of triangulation method, I get all the neighbouring shapes and colours one after the other.

In the case of this colour drawing, I first made a small palette on a corner of the paper, to select the few pencils I needed for the drawing (not in the picture).

Fish with color pencils

Uniform shading: exercise

Today I visited the childrens’ park near my house and found a nice model, with a good proportion of light and dark areas. It is a turtle made of wood, the size of a big dog. Children were playing all around, and even chalked a bit of the turtle!

Here it is:

Wood turtle

I didn’t draw everything as I got tired and the cirrus clouds took away some of the light; anyway I am quite happy with the result as it is.

This time I didn’t use hatches as I wished to practise uniform tones. My pencil is not a fancy one, it is probably a HB pencil. I like to use it for a few minutes with the same inclination, so a small flat area results from usage, makes the stroke larger and more uniform. I periodically rotate the pencil when I want a darker tone, that comes from the pressure on a smaller area, or a finer stroke.

The process of choosing how dark to fill an area is not unique. My way is to observe the whole subject and find which areas have the same amount of darkness. Then I try to see the contours of these areas. If there are not, as it is in many cases, I try to see where there are abrupt edges like the ones of the lower parts of the turtle, in full darkness, that emerge from light background. Then I start making a uniform tone of the lightest shadow, all over the dark areas, leaving out only the lighter areas. I then repeat this process with darker tones. Usually three iterations are enough. Finally, I make the continuous transitions and some smaller details.

Have fun with your own drawing!

Negative spaces: first exercise

A clever way of drawing complex objects in good proportion is to focus on the empty spaces left. Betty Edwards explained this technique in her book “Drawing on the right side of the brain” (see this post with an application of the idea). I have applied negative contour drawing to this potted plant with a lot of leaves:

Negative spaces exercise: plant
Negative spaces exercise: plant

Drawing such a subject requires some patience, but it is very rewarding to see the full shape of the plant emerge from the apparently meaningless pattern of small white background spots.