Choosing and Using Pencils

Need to know what the 'H' and 'B' and those numbers mean? Which one to pick for line drawing, which one for shading? And can you use an eraser, or not? This graphite pencil FAQ has the answers for those frequently asked pencil drawing questions.

Drawing Using a Grid

When copying a photograph or drawing, small errors compound each other, and its easy to end up with everything out of proportion. A grid solves this by giving set reference points at regular intervals. Drawing with a grid is also great way to train your eye and hand, helping to build your confidence. This illustrated step-by-step lesson shows you how.

Choosing a Picture and Grid Size

When selecting a picture to copy, make sure it is large and clear. You might wish to photocopy or do a computer printout rather than drawing directly on a photograph. You need an image with clear lines and edges - a blurry image makes it difficult to find a line to follow.

Decide on your grid size. If the grid is too large, you'll have to do too much drawing in between each square. If the grid is too small, you'll find it difficult to erase, and it can get very confusing. There is no definite rule, as the size of your picture and the subject can be so varied - but something from one inch to half an inch will be about right. You don't have to divide your photo up mathematically - if the last squares are only half filled, that's fine.

A Few Squares at a Time

When copying the picture, use spare sheets of paper to cover some of the image, so you can focus on a few squares at a time. This is especially useful for large pictures which can become confusing. Place your drawing and the original picture close together, so you can look directly from one to the other

The Finished Grid Drawing

The completed grid drawing will include all the major lines of the object - outline, important details and clear shadow shapes. If you want to indicate the position of subtle details, such as a higlight, use a light dotted line. Now you can carefully erase your grid, patching up any erased parts of your drawing as you go. Then you can complete it as a line drawing, or add shading. If you need a very clean surface, you might want to trace your completed sketch onto a fresh sheet of paper

Following Shapes and Using Negative Space

Look for clear edges in your picture. With this example, you can clearly see the outline of the jug against the background. Notice where the shape crosses the gridline - this is the reference-point that you can use. Don't try to measure where it is on the grid, but rather judge its position (halfway up? one-third?) and find the same spot on your drawing grid. Follow the shape, looking for where the line next meets the grid.

The area shaded gray shows a NEGATIVE SPACE formed between the object and the grid. Observing these shapes can help you follow the shape of the line. Notice how the gray space looks fairly triangular, with a couple of chunks taken out - that makes it easy to copy.

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