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Foundations of Drawing
Illustration by John Hersey

How to get the best tone from your pencils


From:

Foundations of Drawing

with Will Kemp

Video: How to get the best tone from your pencils

I'm going to show you how I sharpen a pencil that's got a longer lead. So on here you can see, part of it is sharpened So what I like to do, is to sharpen my So what I do, is I always work away from myself.

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Foundations of Drawing
2h 24m Beginner Apr 28, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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
Subjects:
Design Drawing Design Skills
Author:
Will Kemp

How to get the best tone from your pencils

I'm going to show you how I sharpen a pencil that's got a longer lead. Which means you have more time drawing, and less time sharpening. And a quick illustration of the different tones that you can achieve with the different pencils. It's when you're sharpening your pencils you got a couple of options. The first one is a pencil sharpener. So this always sharpens and it gives a nice round tip to them. But I can find sometimes they're quite unreliable to get a really perfect edge. So on here you can see, part of it is sharpened really nicely, and parts of it is just, is very, very fine.

It's not completely even all the way around. So what I like to do, is to sharpen my pencils with a craft knife, and this just enables me to get a bit more control with the lead, and just to get a longer lead on the natural pencil. So what I do, is I always work away from myself. And I just twist the pencil around. Because this is quite a hard lead, this one is a 2B.

You can then start to sculpt the lead that you got at the end, so you get this really nice fine point. What this now means, is that I've now got this super razor sharp edge to the pencil, and it'll last rather longer than me having to keep going back and sharpening it.

But what I can also do, is turn the pencil around. And I've got this nice wide edge that I can work from to get this really nice soft finish. And then just twist it over, and then I've got that super sharp line. So just by the way that I've actually sharpened the lead, it starts to give me different ways of moving the pencil around. To get different effects with it.

I've also got here a piece of sandpaper. And sometimes, this can be handy, if you want to flatten off an edge. And you can get these in these blocks or just a piece of sandpaper from the hardware store. And it just gives you that, again that block technique, so you can shade in very quickly. If I just compare this to, say a 9B, this is harder to sharpen with a knife, because it's so soft. It comes off very easily, and you'll notice how much more of the actual graphite comes out.

So you see how this is already just a little bit darker than that. But still get a finer line, but you notice, as soon as I do a fine line, all these little bits of the graphite come off of the pencil, because it's so soft. And then when you go quite. Okay, this is a classic, example of what happens with a 9B.

As soon as you start to put extra pressure on, it can break, because it's so much softer than the harder pencils. But you see how black I can get it in comparison to when I use. Now, this is a 2B so it's reasonably soft but you can just notice the tone of when I actually put it down it's not as dark as this, and it's even more emphasized if you then, say, use an even harder pencil. So this is a 4H, and I'm pressing really hard.

But it's kind of scratching up the pages. When I rub my finger over it, it's made a texture on to the actual paper, because I've had to press so hard, to get this grayer tone to it. So this is just to show you the differences that you can achieve between the way that you actually sharpen your pencil. So here's a pack of classic sketching pencils. They go all the way from 9B, and down to 2H for this particular pack. But for this course, I'm just going to concentrate on a few pencils. An HB, a 3B and a 7B.

You can get loads of a real variety, just with these three pencils. And they're a great starting point,so you can really just get drawing. And then you can always add more pencils as you progress in your drawing skills.

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