An Instructional Drawing Guide: Part 1 -Graphite

I want to go over some drawing techniques for those hoping to learn different methods. Most drawing how-tos feature step by steps on how to draw something specific. I want to take it further by showing you the different tools and methods. There is not one way of drawing. In fact there are so many ways to draw that it is not a one size fits all medium. It is composed of several. Because each of us are unique, I feel that introducing you to other methods will help you to find the style unique to you.

You are probably familiar with pencil sets. What you might not know is why there are so many, or how to use them properly.

Below is a guide that I made. The main thing you need to remember is that B stands for blackness, and H stands for hardness. Also F is for fine point which means that it can be sharpened into a really fine point. The numbers represent intensity. 4B is the intensity of the blackness. But 4H is the intensity of hardness. You might expect a 6H to be darker but in reality it is just crisper lines.

For this drawing I am going to use multiple drawing techniques beginning with graphite. This is my image. It is not copy righted because I took the photo which is important. It is a grave yard in Louisville inside of an old fort. It also happens to be a location in my mom’s book that she is writing, so we took a field trip and acquired many photos so that I could illustrate it.

First off you must decide on a composition. What are you going to include and exclude from the scene? You do this by cropping.

I cropped being generous with the edges because I plan to fade out the edges.

I am starting with a B pencil. Many people prefer hb to start with, I think that is because most sets don’t come with B. I want the lines to be very soft to start.

I start it by drawing the most prominent shapes that I see. I see a triangle made by the left wall and start there making broad lines and building upon it. I use the edge of my pencil to figure out what each line and corner is parallel to. This is the hardest part believe it or not and it took 10 minutes (with my kid diverting my attention each step of the way).

I take the pencil at an angle to scribble soft lines of darkness making notes to myself where my shadows and darkest darks are.

I have yet to draw in details like the bricks. But I notice that the bricks are the same size as the left and right sides of the cross on the building which I will use as a reference.

Now this is where you check yourself and make sure that all of the lines are going in the right direction.

I am going to show you what I mean with tracing paper.

All of those lines (which are supposed to be of the same angle) are not going in the same direction (and they should). Fix it like I am about to do. Don’t bother erasing. This is why we start light. Trust me, erase nothing. Do this for every angle. / \ l _

Now celebrate because the hard part is over and the fun begins!

Pick up a darker pencil. I have a tendency to jump to the darkest then fill in with medium tones later.

Look at your picture and find the darkest darks and make them dark in your image. Then take an h pencil and fill in small details. Use lighter B pencils for shadow details such as the detailed shadows on the stones.

I must point out that there is a big difference between observational sketches, and drafting. In drafting everything must be measured and precise. In observational sketches you are depending on your ability to ignore assumptions and to train your eye to see what is in front of you and depict it. It is a dance between dark and light because that is what enables 3 dimensionality on a 2 dimensional surface. Our tendency is to assume many lines and draw them. So spending as much time as possible looking at your subject and as little time as possible looking at your drawing is what will train your eye. This can be explained but can only be improved upon with practice. It is hand eye coordination and mind training.

You can easily blend your lines should you desire with a small paper smudger. (Rolled paper into a point) if you don’t have one take a thin sheet of paper and wrap it around your finger then smudge. DO NOT use your fingers. It will release an oil onto the paper that will become more evident with time as it oxidates.

Stay tuned for part two where I will continue this drawing with ink pens.

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