Drawing Tips

Make a Great Drawing Board

Drawing Board the Foundation

For a Great Drawing

Drawing Boards are great supports for doing solid drawings. You can go to an art store to and purchase one for 10.00 – 25.00 or you can save a little money and have the board cut to any size you want. Almost all drawing boards are made of masonite or MDF a compressed wood product. Thanks to the convenience of Home Depot you can purchase a 2′ x 4′ or 48″ x 24″  of MDF for between 7 – 9 dollars. They will also cut the board to your specifications. The is a great way to get you a great drawing that will last for years.

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New Methods to Try: Scratch Boards

Scratch Boards Great Way to Reverse Your Thinking

Working from White to Black

What are they?

Scratch boards have been in use since the 19th century and were often used to make pieces of art that were easy to re-produce and could resemble woodcuts. The base is made of specially prepared clay which is white in color. The clay is near the thickness of cardboard and is covered with black ink.

How do I use it?

Instead of adding more material on top of the board, which is what we do on canvas or paper when painting and drawing, the black ink is scraped off to show the white clay beneath. The broader the strokes when being scraped off, the lighter that area of your piece will seem. Likewise, thinner strokes relay that there is less light, and are useful when trying to add values other than black or white. Just about anything may be used to scrape off ink that isn’t wanted: needles, exacto blades, wire brushes, nails, etc. Specific tools are available for purchase as well, one of which that is useful has a rounded arrowhead shape. The tip is very narrow and can make quite thin lines. Modify the angle of the tool to use the edge until the curved ends of the arrowhead, and thick, bold lines may be used for the lightest areas of highlights. Any amount of tipping or angling the tool may lead to varying thicknesses of line, which you won’t have to achieve by continually switching tools otherwise. If the need to “erase” ever arises, simply paint over the unwanted mistakes with India ink and let dry before trying to work in that area again.

Why is it helpful?

Using a scratch board helps us to better recognize light: the different shapes that it contains, and the varying intensity of light etc. When using paper or canvas, focus tends to be on the shadows. The scratch board helps us to think differently and ideally we will be able to recognize both the shapes and values of light in addition to those of shadow, which help to give our art a more convincing quality.


http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/529824/scratchboard for some historical insight

Drawing Approaches

Quick Tips:

Reductive Drawing

Reductive drawing is a great way to create a drawing. It gets you away from thinking about lines and helps you focus on value, tone, and shape. To create a reductive drawing, start with a toned ground on paper. To create a toned ground, use a piece of compressed charcoal to cover your paper with value, then use a paper towel or a cloth to blend the charcoal into an even ground. Use a pink pearl eraser, vinyl eraser, and kneaded erasers to sketch in the basic shapes of your objects. Using your erasers to lighten the value, you can utilize different pressure to get a wonderful range of values. You can also use brushes, cloth, tissue, and paper towels to remove charcoal from your paper. You can use many tools to lighten your values in a reductive drawing. I use stomps, razor blades, brillo pads, steel wool, sand paper, dremels and even orbital sanders. If the paper is thick enough you can get very aggressive with it.

The reductive drawing technique gives you a drawing that feels more like a painting. Use your imagination and have fun with reductive drawing.

Technical Corner:Drawing Papers Which Ones to Use

Quick Tips:

Drawing Papers

To preserve the life of your drawing be sure to use papers that are 100% cotton rag. Most of these types of papers will be watercolor and printmaking papers. I prefer 90lb to 140lb papers.

Papers come in different textures and are sized differently. (Sized means how absorbent or non absorbent the paper fibers are. Gelatin sizing is used to control paper absorbency).

Paper textures vary, starting with plate (smoothest), hot pressed (slight texture), rough (more texture), cold pressed (most texture). I prefer using paper with at least a slight texture. I use papers with different sizing, depending on the need. Heavily sized paper is easier for tight rending and using hard erasers without destroying the paper. Heavy sized papers like Arches hot pressed watercolor paper or Strathmore illustration board are great for pencil drawing and tight renderings. Lightly sized papers have a more delicate surface, so the drawing done on them have softer marks and the media you use will penetrate the paper more. I use lightly sized papers for pastel or charcoal drawings. Lightly sized, more absorbent papers I like using with charcoal, like Rives BFK, allow for smearing and smudging techniques that give you soft values.

These papers all have great qualities for different techniques and approaches. Find the texture and size of the paper that pleases your taste and suits your purpose.

Drawing Tips: Using Blending Techniques with Drawing

Quick Tips:


Using Templates and Masks with Smudging

Some people love to smear, smudge, or soften their charcoal drawings with brushes, rags, or stomps. When smearing a drawing or applying tone with a rag or brush you can’t get a distinct edge without help. Of course you can redevelop the area with charcoal stick or pencil. Sometimes though you may want to keep your values soft or you may just want to protect an area from charcoal. A great way to create crisp edges or protect areas from charcoal is with masks or templates. Any piece of paper can be cut and used as a template. This doesn’t have to be complex. For instance if I need a clean edge and I am adding charcoal with a rag or brush, I can simply lay down a piece of paper with a straight edge. When I add value along the edge of the paper, the paper will protect the covered area and leave a razor edge where I rubbed charcoal along the edge of the paper. You can cut out all kinds of shapes to create a clean edge. You can use doilies, napkins, paper snowflakes. Almost anything can be used as a mask to creates interesting effects and textures. Give this a try. Just remember, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of using technique for technique’s sake. Use this as a means to an end, not an end in itself.