Exercise Tonal Studies

I completed this exercise on 08/06/12. I had been a little concerned about doing hatching to show tone as it is something that I find quite difficult. Before I started therefore I had a practise using different media to hatch A4 sketch book p.16 (please see figure 1) and also had another look at Drawing A Complete Guide by Giovanni Civardi and found pages 361 and 363 particularly helpful for understanding how to use hatching to show rounded form on fruit.

Figure 1
Practise hatching for exercise Tonal studies

I moved on to the first part of the exercise which was trying to produce 4 distinct grades of tone in 5cm boxes with 4 different media, 2B graphite pencil, biro, dip pen and black Indian ink, and a Zig Millennium 01 pigment ink pen A4 sketch book p.17 (please see figure 2). I found it quite difficult to control my lines and for this exercise a straight line was definitely not my strong point. Upon completion of the boxes the squares done in the 2B graphite pencil appeared to be the ones with the least tonal difference when I half closed my eyes while the boxes done with the dip pen appeared to have the most. Out of the pale tone boxes the palest appeared to be the one done with the Zig Millennium pen but they also were the most spaced apart. I am not sure that there is enough tonal difference between the two middle boxes in all rows. I do find middle tones quite hard to judge at present. I had found it difficult not to smudge the pencil lines while hatching the deeper tone boxes with the 2B graphite pencil. The other conclusion that I came to is that hatching is very time consuming.

Figure 2
Trying to make four distinct grades of tone in 2B graphite pencil, biro, dip pen and black Indian ink, and Zig Millennium 01 pigment ink pen for exercise tonal studies

Before I started the next part of the exercise I thought that I would try and use what I had learnt so far and draw something with a rounded surface as practise. A small repositionable lamp that can be hand held was sitting in front of me so I thought I would give that a try as several of the surfaces on it are rounded and if I could manage to draw that then it would help to give me some confidence to tackle the next part of the exercise A4 sketch book p.18 (please see figure 3). I drew the lamp lightly in pencil first and then used an Edding 55 fine point fibre tip pen to complete the drawing. I learnt several things from doing this drawing. I found that the first marks that I put down looked dreadful as they seemed disjointed and I thought that I had ruined it before I’d hardly begun but as I added more marks it tended to pull things together and make more sense and it helped me to realise not to panic if the hatching appeared to be going badly. I also learnt not to go too dark immediately because although I could always add more hatching if I needed to go darker, however once it was down I couldn’t then make an area lighter again. And I learnt that following shadow lines and contours helped to make the shape appear more rounded. It also gave me a boost of confidence as I hadn’t thought that I would be able to draw it never mind hatch it.

Figure 3
Practise drawing using Edding 55 fine point fibre tip pen
Exercise Tonal studies

So, then it was on to the next part of the exercise. I chose for my four objects an apple, a banana, a button mushroom and a mug as I felt that these would give me a good variety of planes and shapes to try and tackle. I arranged the objects and then made a light pencil drawing to roughly put in the positions of them. I’m afraid that I chickened out of going straight in with ink. Once a basic line drawing was down for guidance I decided to do each object in a different media and chose a 2B graphite pencil for the button mushroom, a dip pen with black Indian ink for the mug, a Zig Millennium 01 pigment ink pen for the apple and finally a biro for the banana. I shone a lamp on the arrangement and then spent a while looking as carefully as I could to try and see and understand where the various shadow and light areas were and any reflected light areas. As I was using different media for the objects I worked through them one by one starting with the button mushroom A4 sketch book p.19 (please see figure 4).

Figure 4
Exercise Tonal studies. Drawing done using four media, 3B graphite pencil, dip pen and Indian ink, Zig Millennium 01 pigment ink pen, biro

The dip pen for the  mug proved to be the least forgiving media as the Indian ink appeared very black and strong when it went onto the paper and though I could get some variation in tone in a line by moving the nib faster so that it skipped over the paper, it didn’t always do this and could then put down a heavier line than expected. I went in far too dark for the shadow thrown by the apple onto the banana. In many ways I found that banana the hardest object to hatch. Partly I think because I was very tired by the time I got to the banana and should really have taken a break but I also think that it was that it had a mix of very turned surfaces and much flatter areas and I got decidedly lost with my hatching while trying to show them. I think that the banana is the weakest of the objects in the drawing. I also struggled with hatching the apple and very nearly lost the lit area completely and think that it would have been better with less hatching. By the time I had done the mug, apple and banana in various types of ink the hatching with the 2B graphite pencil on the button mushroom was looking far too pale and I therefore went over that with a 3B pencil and this strengthened up the mushroom nicely.

Overall I am quite pleased with the drawing. I enjoyed the challenge of doing it and learnt a lot, not least that I am capable of improving with hatching, although I still have a very long way to go with it. It was interesting seeing how much reflected light there was in the setup and then trying to show that. I found it quite difficult to get some of the subtle variations in tone in and lost several while trying to hatch them, for instance in the shadow thrown by the apple onto the banana there was actually some reflected light in that shadow but I hatched the shadow too heavily and lost it to a large extent. I found that I had double shadows because of having an overhead light on (so that I could see what I was doing) and the repositionable light shining on the setup partly to one side. I also think that I have not shown the roundness of the mug very successfully. The importance of following the shadow areas and contours to show form has been really brought home to me by this exercise.

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