Saturday, February 04, 2012
Exercise 1 - Tone Scale (Transcription)
Welcome everyone to this series of training video on drawing.
We’ll start with basic exercises, increasing difficulties from time to time. Try not to overlook even the most simple ones, because they are absolutely essential!
Of course they relate to my approach to drawing, so please refer to my drawing lessons as well. Keep in mind that other people could do the same things in a totally different way. This is the way I do it.
This first exercise will help you improve your shading ability, as well as getting more confident with the pencil stroke.
We will use a single pencil to get the different shades. I recommend a B pencil or a 2B one; you can choose the brand you prefer the most. Avoid harder pencils, for now, because they would make it quite impossible to get deep blacks, and softer pencils (from 3B up) too. They’re good for very dark tones, but not on the purpose of this exercise.
Start drawing a rectangle (let’s say about 10 inches width per 1 inch height), and divide it into 10 equal squares. Feel free to use a ruler if you like. What we want to do, is a tone scale, as gradual as possible, going from white to black. On this purpose we will use the technique of cross-hatching.
So, how to start? First and foremost, don’t fill each square after another, because you could get to black too quickly, thus having the last two or three squares very similar each other.
You’d rather want to create a first layer of very light gray along the whole strip, leaving the first square untouched. Proceed then with the next steps, starting from the second square, then the third, and so on. Change the direction of the hatch on every pass, trying to maintain a constant pressure and a uniform distance between the various strokes.
It may happen that as soon as you get to the last square, you realize that two of them are too similar each other, or that the last one is not dark enough. It’s not a problem, because it’s very easy to add new passes to darken the boxes, starting from the one that seems most similar to the previous, or even increasing the contrast on all squares - always starting from the first ones. Do it until you are satisfied with the result. Finally, if you like, you can refine your work to make it look a bit better.
Once you have completed the exercise successfully, you can increase the difficulty by increasing the number of squares. This same exercise can also be performed with color pencils, watercolors or oil painting: indeed, it’s very good to get skilled on managing layers and transparencies.
You can also try to apply this technique along with the copy of real objects. The main idea is to work on all shades gradually, getting to black step by step, and, most important: always working on the whole drawing in one time.
Needless to say, repeat this exercise dozens of times. Do not settle for doing it once or two! Increase the difficulty instead! Do it when you will be more experienced as well, it is a useful training also for professional artists.
Have a great time!