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Drawing: My general method (part 2)

January 19, 2011

People are often quick to say they can’t do something, such as draw, before they have even given it a good try. It’s fine if you’re not interested in trying; I’m not interested in trying a whole bunch of things! But don’t say you can’t when you don’t actually know, and don’t use that guess as a reason not to try something that you’d actually like to do better. There’s my motivational speech of the day. πŸ˜‰ Main point: Let’s all stop making excuses and just be honest with ourselves and others.

Last time, I discussed the prep I do for “serious” drawings (I usually skip the grid when I’m playing Pictionary). Today I want to talk about some of the materials I use to make the job easier. It’s amazing what a difference the right pencil makes.

As I said, this isn’t a passion for me, so I’m not very informed on all the best products, but there are some basic items that are easily obtained at an art/craft store, and they aren’t even expensive. You don’t need to be a professional to justify the purchase of a few supplies totaling under $20. Also, the following items would make a great gift for someone who would like to try drawing more seriously.

1. Paper. You can use any paper you want, but you might like having a sketch pad that is large, sturdy and textured. The right paper makes it easier to smudge and erase, and sketch paper is made to work with art pencils and other mediums. Strathmore is a popular brand that I’ve used, though I’m sure there are many great brands.

2. Pencils. Graphite pencils are sold in varying degrees of hardness. They are labeled with Hs and Bs (and sometimes Fs and probably other letters) to let you know how hard/soft they are. HB is your standard Number 2 pencil, which falls right in the middle of the hard/soft scale. If you want something harder (and therefore lighter on the page), you get pencils like H, 2H, 4H, etc., where the hardness increases as the number goes higher. Softer pencils are labeled as 2B, 4B, 8B, etc. I have no idea how many types there are. The softer the pencil, the darker you can draw without much pressure. Drawing is way-the-heck easier with softer pencils, in my opinion. I love using something more toward 6B or higher. For this drawing, I believe I was loving the Pentalic Graphite in 9B for a lot of the shading.

3. Erasers. Yes, there are also better erasers than the pink ones you used in school! Different erasers have their strengths and weaknesses, but one of the main ones I use is a kneaded eraser (shown above in packaging and after use). It’s like a piece of putty that you can shape for particular jobs. You want to erase a thin line? Form a point or edge in the kneaded eraser and swipe it across the paper. It lasts a long time because you just knead it to freshen it up for more erasing. You’ll likely want an additional eraser for bigger jobs. If you look in the art aisle there are lots of choices meant to erase cleanly without tearing up your paper. They aren’t magical, but they are helpful.

That’s enough for now. In my next post I’ll conclude this little series with some (possibly vague and unhelpful) information on my actual drawing process. Sorry if this groundwork is kind of boring. πŸ™‚ Have a great day!

  1. Excellent advice! πŸ™‚

    I know I can't draw. I've tried it more than once or twice. I even had my china painter teacher help and give me tips. Flowers are about the best I can do and have them come out looking like flowers. When I was in grade school, all my animals looked like they'd been run over =P

  2. Well it's good you've tried!

  3. Awesome post. πŸ™‚

    There's my motivational speech of the day.

    Yay! lol.

    Also, a quote that is perhaps relevant…

    (Yes, another quote! lol).

    The softer the pencil, the darker you can draw without much pressure. Drawing is way-the-heck easier with softer pencils, in my opinion

    Depends, I suppose, on the type of drawing you are doing. πŸ™‚

    Sorry if this groundwork is kind of boring.

    No such thing as anything that is boring, including posts covering “groundwork”. Thank-you for posting them! πŸ™‚

  4. I love my kneaded erasers! These are fun posts; and good motivational speech! ;-D

  5. This is great advice. I never even thought of using different levels of pencil for different purposes! I'm an art genius.

  6. Anonymous permalink

    I can draw … but none of them come out as anything resembling artwork. How's that? I think a couple of my young children probably have more skills than I do. But I still enjoy reading this stuff! I have had a kneading eraser but didn't find it helpful, but maybe I just wasn't using it right … I wanted to use it like a regular eraser. -R

  7. Mike – Thanks! And yeah, I guess. πŸ™‚

    H.C.H. – I'm flattered that you check out my blog, but a little embarrassed to let you see how I do things when you're so much better at this stuff than I am!

    Brenda – Yeah, you'd have no reason to think of it if you weren't into drawing. πŸ™‚ And I don't think you are…right? Or are you?

    R – Whatevs! You're all about the cartoon drawings! And yeah, kneaded erasers aren't really for removing big areas of pencil, but just drawing in lighter lines.

  8. You do NOT give yourself enough credit! πŸ˜€
    I was just working on some hands in a painting the other day and messing them up terribly. I had to leave it alone for awhile and come back to it before I could really see what was so wrong.

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