Foundations of Drawing
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating contrast


From:

Foundations of Drawing

with Will Kemp

Video: Creating contrast

Now we've learned about the importance of light and dark and having that real tonal range in your pictures. What I'm going to introduce now is the idea of a tonal ground and this is where we create a tone on the actual page. So we're not working on to the white paper. What this can really help you to do is to be able to focus on the lights in the drawing, and the dark's very easily that have a real range really quickly.

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Drawing
2h 24m Beginner Apr 28, 2014

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Anyone can learn how to draw. Success comes down to three things:

Shape: By focusing on the shapes of the objects (and more importantly the shapes between the objects) you can view subjects with a whole new outlook and focus.

Simplicity: You'll get better results by concentrating on simple subjects and drawing techniques that will still prove powerful when used together.

Structure: A structured approach makes drawing easier to master.

Each chapter in this course is built on these three principles, combining drawing theory and practical examples with worksheets and drawing assignments. Will Kemp brings his passion for teaching and infectious love of drawing together in these lessons. You'll learn about line, value, tone, negative space, and perspective, and come away with the confidence to start making drawing a daily practice.

This course was created and produced by Will Kemp. We're honored to host this training in our library.

Topics include:
  • Materials you need to draw
  • Drawing theory
  • Framing your composition
  • Using the picture plane
  • Creating contrast
  • Using negative space to create more powerful compositions
  • Creating form from shadows and light
Subject:
Design
Author:
Will Kemp

Creating contrast

Now we've learned about the importance of light and dark and having that real tonal range in your pictures. What I'm going to introduce now is the idea of a tonal ground and this is where we create a tone on the actual page. So we're not working on to the white paper. What this can really help you to do is to be able to focus on the lights in the drawing, and the dark's very easily that have a real range really quickly. So it takes a bit of time in preparing a tonal ground, but once it's done it can really speed up the actual drawing process to get a real nice sense of realism and form in your drawings.

It takes away a lot of the fear from having that white paper in front of you. So we're going to use a 3B pencil, your frame and your graphite stick, to rub it onto the actual page, so we get this really nice, even grey tone. So let's have a look at setting up a tonal ground. So to establish a tonal ground, we've just got to again position the frame like we did before, and just draw around the inside of it. This is either with a 2B or 3B pencil.

And if you take your graphite stick, and it might be slightly different than mine, but it doesn't matter. All we're trying to do is establish an even tone across the paper. If you're using loose sheets of typing paper, It's advisable to get a few extra sheets and put it underneath the page, just so you've got a smooth surface and a bit more padding underneath whatever you're working on. I've got a couple of sheets under this pad so that's absolutely fine, I can work straight on top of this. What you've got to make sure is that no little bits of debris underneath the paper, because we're trying to get it very even without any marks.

Because this has got a flat surface I can use it like it is and good to go. So I am just using this on the flat edge and just softly applying pressure. If you go over the edges it doesn't matter. The thing to really concentrate on is trying to get a smooth finish. So try to get a reasonably even pressure over the whole of your frame, and this area here, that's looking about right.

But I can see other parts that are a bit lighter, so, I can just softly go over those. And that's looking fairly even for this stage. So, what we're going to do now is polish this up to really even it out and just give us a nice, even surface to work our drawing on top of. If you're having real trouble getting it even, you can use the side. But just be careful because often with the edges, the sharp edges, you can make marks that can go onto your page. And they're harder to get out into the drawing.

So when you've got it flat, we'll keep it nice and smooth. And that is usually the best way to get a nice, even, finish. So what we do now is just grab some paper towel. And what we're going to do is just polish it, work it in like a circular motion. And you see how already that has really evened out the tone here, and it's just created this lovely surface for us to work on top of. See you can just turn over the paper towel, just go over it again.

So what we can do now, is just reinstate this square that we first put down. And now that gives us an edge to work to, and you can just rub back this edge so it's nice and neat for us to start. And you can just lay the black frame on top and then just, with the plastic eraser. Work up to that edge. And that just neatens it up.

So I'll just go around the rest of this piece. So, I'm just going to shake these off, these pieces of plastic from the eraser. And then we're ready to go for our first little, simple still life with this.

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