Part 2, Project 3 Exercise 3 Detail and Tone

The Aim

Use a variety of soft pencils to draw a natural object, using hatching and cross-hatching to build up tones on A3 paper

The Process

I chose a piece of bog-wood for this exercise. It is a lovely piece of dark, reddy-brown wood that for years was submerged in an aquarium. It has been out of water for a couple of years now, but is stored outside so it regularly gets drenched by our British weather. The wood when it is dry takes on many different tones compared to when fully wet. I was unsure from the course literature whether this exercise was meant to be in colour (there was a colour drawing accompanying the text). However, all my colour pencils seem to be one grade of softness, so I decided that the text meant graphite pencils. I selected a 6B, HB and 4H to give a variety of marks, and drew on A3 Heavy weight (220gm^2) cartridge paper.

I drew a rough outline in HB pencil to get the proportions right, not worrying too much about the small detail. Once happy with this, I started putting down the darkest tones with the 6B pencil. I used cross-hatching where I could but the pencil was soft enough that the lines blended into a more smooth type of shading. I tried to work on different parts of the drawing simultaneously (or as near as!!) rather than concentrating on one particular area. This allowed me to add detail and a tonal range across the whole drawing. I added detail into individual areas as I came to them. I had got my proportions slightly out for the vertical projection and also the right hand side. In altering these I ended up taking the drawing nearer to the edge of the paper than I would have normally liked. In general I worked from dark to light tones, with the hope of leaving visible the white highlights at the end. I found however that I had to go back and darken some areas to keep the drawing balanced as a whole, and by the time the fine detail was being added, mostly with HB and some 4H pencil, I was adjusting all levels of tone. The wood had some dark fissuring all over it, and I needed to add this detail in with the 6B pencil.

Bogwood in Pencil
Bogwood in Pencil


in the early stages of this drawing I was unsure I was going to achieve much, the cross-hatching looked dark and without form. However I was amazed to find that as I kept going and added more and more detail, the image sorted itself out, and it all came together! Apart from the slight oversize of the drawing I am very pleased with how it turned out. I am particularly pleased with the shadow. It is possibly the most controlled bit of drawing I have ever done, and the resulting cross-hatching I think shows off the flatness of the table beautifully. I added the back edge of the table in 4H pencil (hence very faint) to give a suggestion of context. I found photographing this image very hard as the graphite reflected light back. Because of this the actual image has darker tones on the right (balancing the dark tones both centrally and to the left.) than this image shows.

Part 2, Project 3 Exercise 3 Detail and Tone

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