Shades of Gray
with graphite requires a certain amount of patience,
since it requires constant blending. Working with
graphite involves continually layering the pigment,
building it until you reach the level of darkness
you want. As mentioned in the previous article, when
beginning a drawing you should start by protecting
the white areas, and then begin applying your darker
values. The darkest areas of your drawing will require
the most layering. As you proceed you can use various
materials to begin blending the darkest areas into
the middle shades of gray. Different materials will
create different textures, so the look you want to
achieve is dependent on the materials you use to blend
materials used for shading:
SOFT CLOTH, OR PAPER TOWEL - All of these create
nice soft shading which works well for skin and some
clothing. Chamois is a type of soft washable leather.
If you use cloth, remember it may leave a slight texture
because of the weave of the material. A soft, durable
2-ply paper towel like Viva blends graphite very smoothly.
All of these hold and apply graphite very well, especially
on large areas.
TORTILLONS AND BLENDING STUMPS
- Tortillons are small, specially rolled sticks
of paper that form a point. Blending stumps are similar
but they are longer, made from pressed paper, and
usually have a point on both ends. Both are excellent
for blending small areas. Blending stumps come in
several different sizes. Both of these can have very
firm points when they are new and it takes a while
to break them in. If the points on your tortillons
or blending stumps are too hard, you can soften it
by rubbing it on your sanding board. After use these
will hold some graphite and are useful for shading
small sections in your drawing.
- Definitely the oldest blending instrument!
However, fingers art not the best choice for your
drawing. Oils in your skin will adversely affect the
paper. For example, I have handled a clean piece of
paper and accidentally touched the surface with my
fingers. When I started applying the graphite there,
it stuck quite prominently to my finger prints. I
could not even erase it, and my shading always looked
slightly darker where the graphite clung to the oils
left by my skin. So for the best results, use cloth,
chamois, or tortillons.
and shading is accomplished in two primary ways. First
is to apply graphite to your tool of choice (Chamois,
blending stump, etc) and then use the tool to apply
the pigment to the paper. To apply graphite to your
tool, rub it around an area where you have already
applied graphite with your pencil. Not only does this
soften these areas but it picks up extra graphite
that can then be applied to the lighter gray areas
of your drawing. If you have powdered graphite on
hand, you can dip your tool directly in the powder
and then apply it to your paper. Be sure you shake
off the excess powdered graphite before trying to
use it on your drawing. After dipping my blending
stump in powdered graphite, I rub it on a scrap piece
of paper to give to remove the excess graphite and
give me more control over how much goes on my drawing.
added to blending tools and then applied to
(Used for blending other graphite, then shaded
(Powdered graphite applied directly to the towel
lays down more pigment.)
way to shade is by using your pencils to apply graphite
to the shadows. When you do this, use pencils with
softer leads (4B - 9B) and make light strokes. Only
use heavier strokes when you want the pencil lines
to stay visual for a textured effect. Make sure you
keep your strokes going in all the same direction,
and follow the direction indicated by the lighting.
For example, if you are drawing a shadow under the
chin of your subject, you would want to make downward
stokes, not side to side. Follow the cast of the shadow.
After shading with a soft pencil it can be blended
with any tool. The more you blend these areas, the
less pronounced your pencil marks will be. Each blending
tool will produce a different look. Be aware that
shading with pencils creates harder shadows then applying
the graphite to a cloth and then to your paper.
added to paper with pencils and then blended
with a tool.
the next article . . .
you have shaded your drawing, you will need to clean
up those white areas and add
Erasers are the answer, and their different varieties
and uses will be discussed in the article Cleaning
Up Your Act.
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