|Final tonal drawing of a decaying rose|
In the last post I discussed my initial approach to creating a line drawing of a rose by observing the structure of the flower. This time I'm going to create a tonal drawing of the same rose. The rose has changed a good bit and is dying but this makes a more interesting drawing because the veins and creases are more pronounced. As the rose changes with age, the petals open out and the colours start to fade from reds to purples and blues. This is something that happens in many red and pink flowers and is due to the presence of anthocyanins, which are pigments present in cell vacuoles which cause the colour to change with differing pH levels. But enough about that because we're not dealing with colour here! Colour comes later and it's important to master tone before even attempting colour....So I'll start from the line drawing stage.
|Quick photo of the rose for reference. Take plenty of photos from different angles to keep as reference but work predominantly from life.|
I start by using an H pencil for my initial layer and pretty much cover the entire flower ( see figure 2 )
I gradually build up tone by using increasingly softer pencils, usually up to a 6 to 8B for a dark subject like this one. I use the continuous tone method for shading in all tonal drawings. Continuous tone is simple a method of creating a smooth even finish and it is generally used in botanical graphite work. Work in small elliptical movements or contour lines with the pencil as but do not apply any pressure from the wrist - the movement should come from arm. To go darker move to softer grades of pencil rather than applying pressure. Sometimes the softer grains of pencil create a look that is too 'grainy' you can smooth this by lightly going over the subject with a harder pencil, such as an HB grade.
To gauge how dark to go, you will find it useful to create a tonal strip with your chosen pencils, this will help you to decide on which pencils to use. When creating a tonal strip always use the same brand of pencils as grades vary between brands. Draw a series of small squares approx 1.5 x 1. 5cm for each pencil to be used and fill each square using the continuous tone method of shading.
Remember that most subjects that you draw can be broken down into simple shapes ( as discussed in the previous post) so you will also find it useful to draw simple shapes such as spheres, cylinders, funnels and disc/ bowl shapes, then shade them with pencil to give a 2 dimensional object a 3 dimensional look by observing how the light falls on the pbject. The way the light falls on the object determines the various tones, for example, the sphere below:
|Various stages showing the build up of tone using increasingly softer grades of pencil.|
Finally a few of my tips:
Practise regular drawing! and don't spend too much of your time reading 'how to' because only by 'doing it' will you improve your skills of observation and therefore your drawing skills and technique.
Always try to work from live specimens rather than photographs, photographs can be used to supplement your work but it's most important to work from life because you will not be able to understand form from a photograph.
Finish it, don't keep skipping from one thing to another, persevere and learn! the best learning comes from mistakes.
Develop your own style and approach and don't too get bogged down by looking at the work of others. While researching the work of others is good and experimenting with different styles is important - it's easy to be distracted by too many different styles. So try to find your own style and be comfortable with it, rather than wishing that your work was like someone elses.
Don't take instruction to literally - there are lots of books and blogs ( like mine ). Each will have slightly different approaches, while some aspects, such as perspective and colour theory are essentials and standard, others are open to interpretation and personal preferences...so don't take it too literally!
NEXT TIME: A tonal study in ink. Same principle as the graphite but painted using black ink.