Getting Tone and Depth in Detail

Getting Tine and Depth in Detail 2

In this exercise I was to practise building up dark medium and light tones principally using pencils and hatching and cross-hatching techniques. I was to select a single object such as a shell or piece of driftwood and get a varied effect by combining soft and medium grade pencils as well as altering the direction of the strokes I make. The brief also informed me that this exercise would be time consuming and indeed it was. I used a smooth sheet of A3 Canson paper and 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B pencils to complete this exercise as well as a putty rubber for the highlights which I used quite often to lighten strokes that were too dark as I made my way through my chosen subject. Living in Bangkok has it’s downfalls especially when taking a drawing course but I’m very lucky to have a small park with some very exotic trees in front of the primary school that I teach at. I found a small branch that had fallen or been broken off one of the trees a few weeks ago that reminded me of the hammers in Pink Floyd the Wall with patches of bark still on it and some really nice contours,  so I decided to use it for this exercise.

My subject for this drawing exercise, a tree branch
My subject for this drawing exercise, a tree branch

I started on the end that I knew would be the most difficult to try and reproduce with pencils, the tree bark, going over it first hatching with a 2B pencil then, 3B, 4B and 5B to get the darker tones. I know the brief said use hatching and cross-hatching on this exercise but I threw everything I had at it, including stippling, squirkling and dashes and I think I depicted the surface of the bark quite well. Unfortunately my photographic skills aren’t that great and the photo of the finished drawing is not as great as the drawing itself.

Getting Tine and Depth in Detail 1
Getting Tine and Depth in Detail 1

The area that I thought would be the most difficult was actually the easiest, to depict tone on the areas of stripped branch with soft bare wood was the most difficult, but one thing it did teach me was to be more fluid with my drawing and for the first time ever I loosened up.

Getting Tine and Depth in Detail 2
Getting Tine and Depth in Detail 2

I know there are flaws in the finished drawing, the shape is wrong in certain places and the shadow isn’t brilliant but there are parts of this drawing that I am really proud of namely the  bark area which reminds me of a ‘bio’ tattoo for some reason. In fact I think the finished piece reminds me of an anatomy drawing and while I was working on it I kept thinking of the Marco Evaristti drawings of parts of suicide victims that I saw during my first visit to the national gallery. Overall I think I did quite well in this exercise, my tutor told me I should be more fluid and I think I managed it while working on this exercise. However, one thing I do have a problem with is drawing the very dark tones on a textured surface such as this which is something I will have to work on.


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