Cut Out + Keep

Drawing Exercises In Technique

Drawing Portraits • Posted by Arcturus Publishing

The following technical practices should help you to ease your way into drawing in a range of different styles. There are, of course, many more than the ones we show, but these will serve very well as a basis. You will discover all sorts of other methods through your own investigations and adapt them to serve your purpose.

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The following technical practices should help you to ease your way into drawing in a range of different styles. There are, of course, many more than the ones we show, but these will serve very well as a basis. You will discover all sorts of other methods through your own investigations and adapt them to serve your purpose.


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    Pencil shading test When you are using pencil to add tone to your drawings it soon shows if you are not very expert. The only way you can develop this facility is to practise shading in various ways in order to get used to seeing the different tones achievable. This exercise is quite difficult but good fun and can be repeated many times over a period of weeks, just to help you get your hand and eye in. You will find the control it gives you over the pencil very valuable. You will need a very dark pencil (4B), a slightly less dark pencil (2B) and a lighter pencil (such as a B). If you wish, you can always use a harder lighter pencil, such as an H or 2H. Draw out a long line of squares measuring about 1 in (2.5 cm) square. Shade each one, starting with a totally black square. Allow the next square of shading to be slightly lighter, and so on, gradually shading each square as uniformly as possible with a lighter and lighter touch, until you arrive at white paper

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    Building up tones by cross-hatching: 1. Vertical strokes first, close together.

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    2. Oblique strokes from top right to bottom left over the strokes shown in 1.

  4. 3. Horizontal strokes over the strokes shown in 1 and 2.

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    4. Then make oblique strokes from top left to bottom right over the strokes shown in 1–3.

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    5. Smooth and finely graduated tones can be achieved by working over your marks with a stub.

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    Pencil and graphite A pencil is the easiest and most obvious implement with which to start an exploration of technique. Try the following series of simple warming up exercises, which can be practised every day that you put aside time to draw. This is very useful for improving your technique. 1. A backward and forward motion of the hand, always in an oblique direction, produces an even tone quickly.

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    2. The same motion vertically.

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    3. The same motion horizontally.

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    1A. 2A. and 3A. Now try a slightly more careful method where the hand draws the lines in one direction only

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    Try using a graphite stick for the next two exercises; they can also be done with a well sharpened soft pencil. 1. Lay the side edge of the point of the graphite or pencil onto the paper and make smooth, smudged marks.

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    2. Using the point in random directions also works well.

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    Pen and ink There is a whole range of exercises for pen work but of course this implement has to be used rather more lightly and carefully than the pencil so that its point doesn’t catch in the paper. 1. Vertical lines close together in one direction.

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    2. Horizontal lines close together in one direction.

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    3. Oblique lines close together in one direction. Repeat as above but this time building up the strokes:

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    4. Draw vertical lines.

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    5. Draw oblique lines on top of the verticals.

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    6. Draw horizontal lines on top of the oblique and vertical lines.

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    7. Draw oblique lines at 90 degrees to the last oblique lines on top of the three previous exercises to build up the tone.

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    1. Make patches of short strokes in different directions, each time packing them closer together.

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    2. Draw small overlapping lines in all directions.

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    3. Draw lines that follow the contours of a shape, placing them close together. For an additional variation, draw oblique lines across these contour lines.

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    4. Build up myriad dots to describe tonal areas.

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    Shading with chalk This next series of exercises is similar to the one you have just done but requires extra care not to smudge your marks as you put them down. The key in this respect is not to use a smooth paper. Choose one with a texture that will provide a surface to which the chalk can adhere. 1. Shading obliquely in two directions.

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    1A. Shading in various directions, heavily.

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    1B. Shading in one direction obliquely

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    2. Shading vertically in two directions.

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    2A. Shading in various directions, more lightly.

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    2B. Shading in one direction horizontally.

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    3. Shading horizontally in two directions.

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    3A. Shading in various directions, very lightly.

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    3B. Shading in one direction vertically.

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    In a series of squares practise shading of various strengths, progressing from the heaviest to the lightest.

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    Brush and wash The best way to start with brush and wash is to try these simple exercises. Your brush should be fairly full of water and colour, so mix a generous amount on a palette or saucer first, and use paper that won’t buckle. 1. With a brush full of ink or watercolour diluted in water, lay a straightforward wash as evenly as possible on watercolour paper.

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    2. Repeat but this time brushing the wash in all directions.

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    3. Load a lot of colour onto your brush and then gradually add water so that the tone gets weaker as you work. Keep working with the brush until it finally dries and you wipe out the last bit of colour.

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    4. Practise drawing soft lines with a brush and wash.

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    Scraperboard Take a fine-pointed and a curved-edge scraper and try your hand at scraperboard. The curved-edge tool produces broader, thicker lines than the pointed tool, as can be seen from the examples shown below.

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    1. Oblique fine line 2. Vertical fine line 3. Horizontal fine line 4. Short pecks 5. Short pecks and strokes 1A. Thicker vertical lines 2A. Thicker oblique lines 3A. Draw a ball, then scrape away to reveal lighter side 4A. Thicker, measured vertical strokes 1B. Scraped wavy lines 2B. Cross-hatching with fine lines 3B. Gradually reducing from thick to fine lines 4B. Draw an eye shape and then scrape out light areas 1C. Lightly scraped wavy lines 2C. Thickly scraped wavy lines 3C. Criss-cross pattern 4C. Multiple cross-hatching increasing in complexity from left to right