Creating a Complete and Professional Pencil Artwork
Sketches can be the instantaneous manifestation of a concept image from whim and imagination onto paper. Often when we attempt to transform our visions into something tangible, the magic and atmosphere of our original concept get left behind. That happens because the pictures in our heads are actually devoid of specific information, and details or we have failed to look at it properly. Sketches, when done without preparation can taint our visions but grounding before sketching can aid us in appreciating the qualities of the initial idea, helping to attain loyalty even in the final product to the original design.
1. Looking at the image in your head
Questions to ask yourself about the picture before you put your pencil to paper:
- Is it made up of any major shapes?
- Is there a background?
- Can you apply perspective techniques?
- Can you break it down into sections?
- Does it have features from something in real life, is it contrived/inspired from a picture?
- Is there a major light source?
The initial sketch does not have to be detailed or realistic, fix that up later. Your concept will grow, develop and undergo reformation but first it must be born onto your page.
- With a relatively hard pencil H or HB, sketch the image LIGHTLY, using lines and shapes
- Don’t concentrate on texture or light at first but rather the outline of forms.
- Don’t get daunted if it doesn’t exactly resemble your idea.
- On the side, make some perspective sketches if it seems distorted. You could also separate it into bite size pieces, honing in on challenging areas, then putting it back together with more insight into the way each individual part works.
- This is a good time to look at references especially for proportions, e.g.: if there are wings featured in your drawing look into the skeletal structure of birds, this could be invaluable in creating a realistic dragon or angel and must be done NOW at the sketching stage.
- Remember composition concepts such as focal points, negative space and balance as they will separate your picture from mundane and make it extraordinary. (I should really listen to my own advice.)
SPEND TIME ON YOUR SKETCH!
As the foundation of your final illustration, a good sketch is crucial to a successful finished product.
I take my time with my sketches because I would much rather be able to perfect it on the same paper until it becomes the final work than sketch and transfer, decreasing the chances of my completed work dramatically changing and drifting from my vision. All the work in my gallery are my sketches, there is no rule that says your finished work has to be separate, the more times you have to transfer the picture, be it from your imagination, a book, or from your sketch the more chances you have of your final product differing from your original aspiration.
If you have made your conceptual sketch but need to transfer the picture onto other paper cut out any details that it had, draw the basic outline, then start filling in any tonal values etc., this will help you with proportions and compels you to evaluate the sketch as you change its size, position on page etc.
You could also use transfer paper, a burnishing technique, an opaque projector or if your final work is going to be larger, a grid technique.
For more information about sketching techniques, visit Pencil Sketching by Max Betruzzie
3. Adding Details
Showing form, texture and pattern, adding detail takes time but is very rewarding and when carefully done, with the support of a good sketch will establish your illustration as professional, realistic and enjoyable to view.
Get out your references! Back to the hypothetical wings in your drawing: find a feather, collect images from the web or the library of both photographs of wings in different positions and drawing of wings. Don’t be carried away and forget the principles! Remember your light sources, Stop and Think about how they will affect different textures, such as the extreme reflection of polished metal versus soft skin. When working on details like complex patterns on clothes or on a weapon, sketching on another page can be necessary to avoid mistakes and ugly rubber smudges because of our fickle minds.
Drawing Different Textures
Fur & Hair
- Your shading lines should follow the natural direction of the growth.
- Vary the length and size of your shading lines
- Each pencil stroke does not represent individual hairs
- I recommend Dummies.com as it has a very good page on drawing fur and feathers with some excellent pictures.
- I recommend Mike Sibley Fine Art, The Graphite Pencil Studio as he is a master of realism with pencil and his site has many tips, tricks, and lessons on drawing hair and grass with a negative drawing technique and drawing circles in perspective.
Check out his gallery too!
- Draw the reflections accurately distorted by the shape of metal object
- Visit the comprehensive and enlightening tutorial, Reflective Materials & Metals by the talented William Li.
Tip: Practice with Ribbons
- When sketching ribbons you can explore perspective techniques, shading with multiple or single light sources, reflected light, create wind and use cast shadows all with a simple or, at your bidding, complex and elaborate object that can be very beautiful. Continually practice on something that when done correctly is both lovely to look at and satisfying; ritual-shading exercises on a sphere will always be boring (as I have recently found out)!
4. Finishing Touches
- Smoothing out shading
- Smartening up edges
- Brightening whites with an eraser
- Deepening shadows with a 6B pencil
- Storing it somewhere safe, with a sheet of tracing paper to protect the graphite from smudging.
Enjoy your Art!
| ||Sketching With A Pencil: For Those Who Are Just Beginning|
Hamilton explains, in a fine text accompanied by many simple sketches and finished drawings, how to sketch. He succeeds in encouraging development of competence and increasing satisfaction for amateur artists using the simple materials of paper, pencil, and eraser. Concentrates on fundamentals: how to hold a pencil and compose a drawing; and creating the illusions of depth and distance.
| ||Pencil Sketching, 2nd Edition (Paperback)|
The complete, classic guide to the art of pencil sketching. So many art books give long-winded descriptions of what to do, and even how to do it, yet they fail to capture the essence of what makes a drawing good. Wang concentrates on simple elements and rules of thumb, providing a wealth of wisdom in a few words and pictures.
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