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Practical Painter is a special edition of
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Are you ready to paint and draw? In this special
edition from ImagineFX magazine, top artists
share their techniques and advice on how to create
great art, whether you’re using oils, acrylics,
watercolours, gouache, pencils, ink or more.
We start on p6 by refreshing the fundamentals
of drawing and sketching, from the different
ways to grip a pencil to how to draw and combine
shapes. From there, we’ll lead you through more
advanced tips and techniques, from shading to
basic anatomy. Then on p54, our focus switches to
painting, from setting up a dedicated art
workspace to the secrets of different paints. Are
you using the right brushes and paper for the kind
of art you wish to create? Find out here.
From p96, we delve deeper into art theory, taking a
look at how to use perspective, the rule of the
thirds and the Golden Ratio to bring your art to
the next level. Then from p110, professsional
artists take you through their projects and
explain how they created them. You’ll learn some
invaluable tips and secrets along the way. Enjoy!
Tom May, Editor
How to Paint & Draw
PAINTING: CORE SKILLS
DRAWING: CORE SKILLS
54 HOW TO SET UP AN ART WORKSPACE
60 HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT
64 HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PAPER
68 HOLDING YOUR BRUSH AND
72 HOW TO CORRECTLY MIX PAINTS
76 TIPS FOR COMBINING COLOURS
80 GET STARTED WITH WATERCOLOURS
84 GET STARTED WITH ACRYLICS
88 GET STARTED WITH OILS
92 GET STARTED WITH GOUACHE
HOW TO HOLD A PENCIL CORRECTLY
HOW TO DRAW BASIC SHAPES
HOW TO COMBINE SHAPES
CHOOSE THE RIGHT DRAWING TOOLS
START DRAWING WITH INK
START DRAWING WITH PASTELS
DRAWING: NEXT STEPS
HOW TO DRAW IN COLOUR
HOW TO DRAW AND SHADE IN 3D
HOW TO ADD SOFT SHADOWS
HOW TO DRAW HEADS
HOW TO DRAW ANIMALS
HOW TO DRAW WITH MIXED MEDIA
PREPARE YOUR SKETCH FOR PRINTING
96 HOW TO MASTER PERSPECTIVE
100 HOW TO USE THE GOLDEN RATIO
104 HOW TO USE THE RULE OF THIRDS
110 PAINT A VINTAGE PIN-UP PORTRAIT
116 HOW TO PAINT WITH ACYRLIC WASHES
122 HOW TO PAINT A STORYBOOK-STYLE
128 HOW TO PAINT AN ABSTRACT-STYLE
134 HOW TO PAINT A CLASSICALLYINSPIRED SCENE
140 HOW TO PAINT FACES
HOW TO HOLD A
The first step to improving your drawing is to make sure you’re holding your pencil
correctly. PAUL TYSALL explains the different methods and what each is used for.
ou’re fairly sure you know
how to hold a pencil, right?
Well of course you do... but
are you holding it correctly?
The grip we use for day-to-day
writing is very inefficient and will limit you
in many drawing scenarios.
Quite simply, drawing from the fingers
and wrist alone (which is the narrow range
promoted by the standard hand writing
grip) doesn’t release the full potential of
movement that drawing from the entire
arm and shoulder affords us.
When it comes to drawing, you need to
retrain years of accumulated muscle
memory that is dictating the way you make
marks. Once you weed out these bad habits,
your visual vocabulary will broaden with
each drawing session. A better grasp will
literally leads to a better grasp, because
once you gain greater certainty and control
over any given drawing medium the
confidence to explore what can be done
with it becomes more accessible. Which is
why over the page we’ll take a brief look at
Having your memory banks full of a
wide range of new and interesting marks
furthers your ability to express line, shade/
value and texture, the core principles of any
drawing. Our aim here is to offer you tips
Drawing from the fingers and
wrist alone doesn’t release the full
potential of movement
so that you’ll have an ingrained
understanding on how best to approach a
drawing before you make the first mark. Be
that a study of a model in a life drawing
class or an imagined form in your
sketchbook, we want you to feel confident
with the drawing tool in your hand.
Over the following pages we’ll discuss
the benefits of changing the way you hold
and control your chosen media so it
becomes an extension of your body,
demonstrating what certain art tools are
capable of once you begin twisting and
turning your way to becoming a more
articulate (and articulated) artist.
Paul Tysall is an illustrator, graphic
designer and writer working in Bristol. See
his work at studio_tysall.prosite.com.
12 STEPS TO PENCIL PRECISION
Learn to wield your drawing tool like a pro and start making marks.
Q AMI Clutch
pencil, 4mm 4B
Q Bamboo reed
brush & pen
Q Winsor &
Q Winsor &
The two basic types of grip
There are several ways to hold a pencil. Most are
variants of two main grip types; Tripod and Overhand. Both
can be used when holding different kinds of drawing media,
but you may notice a tendency to grip tubular media
(pencils and ink pens) with the Tripod grip and bulkier media
with the Overhand. Both have their place but the Overhand
method is generally considered a more adept approach.
Before we explain why lets looks at the Tripod grip.
How to Paint & Draw
The Tripod grip
The Tripod grip is the grip we use when writing with a
pen, so it’s also known as the Writing method. You grip using
the thumb, index and middle finger. The barrel of the pencil
should rest naturally in your hand’s web space. Avoid closing
the web space, as this forces the barrel to rest on the knuckle
of the Index finger and promotes strokes using finger gestures
only. Avoid grasping at the tip of the pencil, too: this can limit
line length(s) and lead to hairy, less fluid continuous lines.
THE RIGHT DEVICE
When to use the Tripod grip
When to use the Overhand grip
Although the range of movement of the Tripod grip
is limited, it can be useful for detailing small sections of a big
drawing. Try to move your grip as far up the barrel as you can
to encourage articulation of the elbow and drawing from the
shoulder. The Tripod grip is more appropriately used when
working in a small sketchbook, A4 or smaller. Try not to rest
your hand on the paper, as this can hinder wrist articulation.
Overhand grip combined with a correctly sharpened
pencil will increase the versatility and range of marks you
can make by introducing the edge of the pencil. Eg, when
drawing on a vertical surface (easel) holding the pencil
vertically (and with the full edge touching the paper), pulling
downwards creates a single line, but moving the edge
horizontally left/right will lay down a thicker line of tone.
The Overhand grip
Getting more from the Overhand grip
If you’ve never used the Overhand grip, it feels alien at
first, but the benefits are worth the retraining. You first need
to sharpen your pencil in a specific way (see How to Sharpen,
right). Place your pencil down on a flat surface. Now with the
thumb and all four fingers pick up the pencil. All fingers
should grip the outer side of the barrel whilst the thumb
grips the opposing side, retaining a light grip at all times.
Move your index finger away from the outer edge of
the pencil to the top of the barrel. This enhances your
control of the pencil by acting as your pivot and pressure
control. Rolling the wrist forwards means less edge is in
contact with the surface, leading to a thinner, sharper line
weight. Roll back the wrist and you apply more edge to the
surface, broadening and also softening the line quality.
already accustomed to
using a hand-held
metal pencil sharpener
when drawing. This is
fine when working in a
sketchbook but there
are some downsides.
The main one is the
very small tip. Less tip
equals fewer marks
you can make, as you
don’t have an exposed
edge for shading and
light tone. A smaller
tip also requires
How you approach
on the way, and scale,
that you draw. If you
like to work small and
use a hatching
approach, the ‘needle’
point might be better
suited to your
approach. If you’re
doing larger scale
drawing, using the
Overhand grip to
achieve line and
shaded tone, use a
‘bullet’ point. Over the
page, we’ll show you
how to do both…
Q Daler Rowney
Soft Putty Rubber
Q Staedtler Mars
Q Daler Rowney
Q Conté à Paris,
Overhand grip exercises
Another way to shift line weight is to introduce minor
shifts in wrist angle, as you draw a continuous line start to
twist the wrist to increase/decrease the amount of edge
contact with the surface. To build muscle memory try this
exercise: Plot several X’s randomly over a surface; now begin
linking these X’s with lines, some short, others continuous,
fluctuating line weights as you go. Use four Xs close together
(North, East, South and West) to practice drawing ellipses.
Gain confidence by exploring the type of marks you
can make using this grip. The foundation of every drawing
can be broken down into three basic components; line,
shade and texture. The more ways you have of creating
these, the more varied your drawing vocabulary will
become. Marks can be generated by the following factors;
direction, angle, speed and pressure. Try filling a sheet of
paper with experimental marks that capture these qualities.
Q Daler Rowney
Q CASS Canford
paper - Winter
pad, 150 gsm
How to Paint & Draw
THE NEEDLE TIP
Using a craft knife or
scalpel, you need to
expose about half of an
inch worth of tip, by
shaving off long
incremental pieces of
the barrel. Place the
blade at a shallow
angle, almost flat to
the barrel, and push
the blade forward
using the thumb of the
hand holding the
pencil. You can also
think of this motion as
drawing the pencil
back down the blade.
With each stroke,
rotate the barrel to
begin shaping an even
point. Once you’ve
graphite, continue to
shape the tip using
very light strokes and
rolling the pencil
quickly. At this point
you should also be
shaving away small
sections of barrel from
the base of the tip.
Next, using an
emery board or a small
section of sandpaper,
place the pencil tip flat
to the surface. Start to
shape the tip by
moving the pencil back
and forth, rotating the
barrel. At first you’ll
break the tip a lot (both
in sharpening and
applying marks when
though, the deftness
required in sharpening
like this will become
How we describe that a subject has form is by
applying tone, aka shading. The most common drawing
method of shading is to continuously apply overlapping
strokes back and forth. Keeping a consistent pressure will
result in a single grade of tone. Going from heavily applied
marks to a lighter application will result in a tonal gradient.
Cross-hatching is similar to the Hatching technique
(step 10), but a second set of lines are drawn at an angle
running across the first set. Again, the more pressure and
tighter the marks, the darker the tone – but now you can
introduce hatch marks crossing in two or more directions to
make denser areas of shade.
3 OTHER WAYS OF
MAKING DRAWING MARKS
So far we’ve only looked at graphite
and charcoal pencils, these being
the most commonly used drawing
tools around, but there are various
types of media that can be used to
make marks. Each medium has
distinct properties and can be
manipulated in different ways to
generate very unique marks. Here
are three more other options found
in the life drawing room.
How to Paint & Draw
When working with a Conté stick it’s vital to level out
the edges so all sides make contact with the surface. (This is
also a good way to remove the outer protective coating).
Hold the stick, using the Overhand grip, flat to your paper
and rubbing each side continuously till you get a single line
of even tone. Retaining the side edges of the stick leaves you
a way to draw thin lines, and the squared ends are good for
wider marks. You can also fashion a single stick to a bullet tip
(see ‘How to Sharpen Your Pencil part 3’, above right).
Experiment with how you manipulate the Conté from the
wrist and shoulder to vary continuous line quality and width.
THE BULLET TIP
Hatching is a method of shading that uses a series of
parallel lines: either vertical, horizontal or following the
direction of the planes of the form (contour shading). For
lighter tones, line weights must be thin, soft and spaced. To
darken the image, apply more pressure to lines and place
them closer together; overlapping your lines also works.
As you draw you can also
prolong the lifespan of the tip
by rolling the pencil barrel on a
regular basis, so you don’t
favour one side of the tip
which can weaken it
You can also suggest tone by creating a series of dots
on your surface. Use a thicker, softer pencil, like a charcoal or
Conté. Tap the point to build up an array of marks. To
suggest lighter areas of tone, the dots should be appropriately
spaced and small in size. To create darker areas, the dots
become larger and should form a dense cluster.
Whether you’re using charcoal
sticks or pencils, the favoured grip is
the Overhand, as moving from line to
tone is as simple as changing the
direction of your strokes. As with Conté
charcoal is highly pigmented, especially
the compressed variants. This makes
blending with your finger or a stump
an effective toning practice. Note that
when blending with your finger, the oils
from your skin can bond the pigment
to the surface, making erasing difficult.
Use paper stumps to avoid this.
Ink: Pen and Wash
How you approach ink is largely determined by the
drawing apparatus: graphic pens are limited in mark quality
yet render consistent lines for cross-hatching.
Try experimenting with ‘dip’ pens, changing the nibs to
alter width and line. Reed pens can be a lot of fun as you can
shape different tips using a craft knife for more varied,
natural-feeling marks. Both dip and reed pens require
loading with ink: if you use a water-soluble ink this can used
to wash areas of tone with a wet brush. Plus an old
toothbrush can be used to splatter ink (to create texture) by
drawing your thumb through the inked bristles. Working in
ink can be a little daunting when starting out, but see the
inability to quickly erase lines as part of the challenge.
As with the needle tip
approach, the first part
of getting a bullet
shape is to expose the
media from the barrel,
but this time avoid
shaping the exposed
tip. You’re looking to
reveal about an inch of
media, with a smooth
taper from wood to tip.
Using your sandpaper,
begin shaping the tip
moving the pencil
backwards across the
surface. Remember to
constantly roll the
barrel: you’re after a
cylindrical finish with
no edges to the tip.
Getting the bullet
shape is made by
rocking the wrist
forwards and back,
focusing on the top
third of the tip.
When you use
sandpaper to sharpen
pencils you end up
with excess powder on
the tip. If you don’t
remove this, it can
make its way to the
paper and ruin a
drawing. A few quick
blows on the tip along
with a quick wipe
(your T-shirt or jeans
usually being the
closest cloth to hand)
should be the last
stage of sharpening
before returning to
HOW TO DRAW
The complex world around us can be divided into simple shapes. Learn how to
draw them accurately and your artwork will take off, PAUL TYSALL explains.
reaking any process down
into small chunks is a great
way to tackle what can seem
like a daunting task. When it
comes to drawing, if we
break a subject down into simple shapes we
can begin to describe its overall structure.
In the opening stages of a drawing you
should be looking to describe your subject,
and its environment, in very simple terms:
always avoid details too early on. By
drawing with simple shapes we can focus
on proportions, composition, planes and
the relationships between forms. It’s all
about working big down to small; simple to
complex; basic shapes to crafted details.
There are three basic shape archetypes
that any form can be fitted into; the cube,
the cylinder and the sphere. At the heart of
these form shapes are two simple geometric
shapes; the square and the ellipse.
Learning to accurately draw and
combine these will help you to construct
any object, observed or imagined. In
walking you through this process we will
have to deal with concepts like perspective
and foreshortening, so we’ll take a very
brief, practical look at them, but to get a
fuller understanding of Perspective head to
page 102, and for more on foreshortening
read the Artist Tip on page 13.
Any form can be fitted into one
of three basic shape archetypes: the
cube, the cylinder and the sphere
We’ll start with drawing the square,
leading onto the cube – the most articulate
shape when it comes to describing
geometry in a drawing that has perspective.
Having six basic planar faces, the cube’s
proportions help to echo their relationship
within 3D space. This aids further
description of more complex rectilinear,
cylindrical and curvilinear forms, which is
what we’ll cover on page 16.
You might think that drawing simple
shapes is… well, simple. But don’t be
fooled. It takes immense skill to perfect
drawing freehand shapes like a simple
circle: just ask Giotto. The 13th century
Italian painter secured his patronage from
Pope Boniface VIII based solely on his
simple painting of a freehand circle...
Q Staedtler Mars
pencil, 2mm 2B
Q Daler Rowney
Soft Putty Rubber
Q Staedtler Mars
Q Daler Rowney
Q DCASS Canford
pad, 150 gsm
2D SHAPES TO 3D CUBES
Start with simple squares and build up to cubes and cyclinders.
How to draw a square
Drawing a basic square is the simple connection of
four straight lines, two along the horizontal axis and two to
describe the vertical axis. Drawing these lines is all about
living in the future: pinpoint your start point; imagine the end
point. Place your pencil on the start point, relax and focus on
the end point. Pull your mark along the imagined path
removing the pencil once it reaches the end point. Pull your
lines towards their goal: this uses more adept muscle groups.
How to Paint & Draw
The grip shown here is one we’re all accustomed to
using when writing. Grip using the thumb, index and middle
finger. The barrel of the pencil should rest naturally in your
hand’s web space. Avoid closing the web space, as this
forces the barrel to rest on the knuckle of the Index finger
and promotes strokes using finger gestures only. Avoid
grasping at the tip of the pencil, as this can limit line length(s)
and lead to less fluid, continuous lines.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GRIDS
Using grids is an essential part of learning how to draw shapes accurately. A grid is comprised of a series of overlapping guidelines
to create a plane, these planes can then be angled and tilted to express various views within 3D space. Below are examples of how
a grid can evolve to help plan shapes seen in an orthographic view (straight on), with one-point perspective (using a single
vanishing point) and also two-point perspective (using dual vanishing points). Learning how to draw them – and manipulate them
according to your drawing needs – relies on a clear understanding of perspective, head over to page 102 for more on perspective.
Beginnings of a cube
Using the simple square as a starting point [A], begin
to describe a box in 3D space. Draw another square that
overlaps the first [B]. Connect all the corners of one square
to the adjacent corners of the other, using 45º lines [C]. This
process of showing all six sides of the cube is known as
‘drawing through’, and here it highlights a problem with this
oblique drawing of a cube: it’s an impossible shape in nature.
For a cube seen in nature we need to apply perspective…
How to draw more natural cubes
When you first start drawing cubes, it helps to study
with an object in front of you. The first line to go down is the
vertical line closest to you [A]. The next two lines are for the
inside edges [B]. These start at the top of our first stroke as
we’re looking down at our cube and the top plane is visible.
The degree at which the inside edge lines are drawn depends
on how much top plane we can see: if it’s a lot, the lines are
drawn at an acute angle, for less, a more obtuse angle.
How to Paint & Draw
Finishing your cube
The length and angle of the inside edges depends on
how much of the front and side is on show. If both are equal,
the angle and length of the inside edge lines are also equal.
Turn the front face more towards you and the line gets longer,
the angle more horizontal. This turning creates the opposite;
the line is more vertical, shorter. To finish, go to the end of
each line and join the remaining edges with converging lines.
How to draw a circle
Measure out a square using a ruler. From the top left
corner, draw a line [A] to the bottom right. Draw a second
from top right to lower left [B]. Add two centre lines, [C] and
[D]. On the eight short lines going out from the centre, plot
dots at incremental thirds [E]. Now draw your circle tangent
to the sides of the square and using the plot points placed
two thirds from the centre. ‘Ghost draft’ this to practice first.
USE YOUR BODY
On p6-9 we learned
the importance of
using the whole arm,
including the shoulder,
to draw lines,
especially when you’re
working on larger scale
drawings. Things don’t
end there, though. It’s
important that you
understand the entire
body is utilised in some
way when drawing,
especially when it
comes to ‘pulling’ your
marks across the
surface (as mentioned
in step 1: Drawing a
square). You can
maintain a greater
degree of control when
you draw lines from
outside the body in
towards your body’s
centre mass (the gut),
and keeping the
drawing arm closer
to the body’s core
muscle control too.
Even shifting your
weight from one leg to
the other can help pull
a long line down across
a drawing when
standing at an easel.
How to draw an ellipse
To draw a circle that appears tilted in perspective (an
ellipse) repeat step 6 but this time start with a square drawn
on an imaginary angled plane. You can simplify this process
by drawing two lines dissecting each other, one short and
vertical [A], the other horizontal and longer [B]. Now plot
end points. Those on the horizontal line should be equal in
distance from the centre.
How to draw a cylinder
How to Paint & Draw
Complete your ellipse
Complete your cylinder
Once again it’s about connecting these points with a
curvilinear path. But this time the upper semi-circle [A] is
more foreshortened than the lower arc [B]. Practise this
process small at first, just to build up your confidence – then
move onto larger ellipses, which require more gestural arm
and shoulder movements. It takes a lot of training to draw
You first need to determine your cylinder’s size and
orientation in 3D space. Draw an angled line measured to
express its length in depth [A]. Introduce a line that runs
parallel to it to determine the cylinder’s width [B]. These two
lines should be tapering to an imagined far off point to express
any foreshortening that’s occurring. The shape of both end
ellipses depends on your viewing angle; in both cases the
angle of each is perpendicular to the established sides.
Your ellipses should run perpendicular to your edge
lines; knowing this helps you avoid ‘squished’ cylinders, a
common issue when using horizontal ellipses to cap the ends
of angled cylinders. Applying this rule will also help you
describe cross contour lines accurately. When you need to
add a cross contour line to a cylinder, lightly ‘draw through’
the entire ellipse in question, this helps maintain the curved
ends found when the visible line connects to the form edges.
How to draw a sphere
We can express spherical form using cross contour
lines. Repeat step 6, but take it further by creating an ellipse
within the circle. Starting at [A], lightly draw a curve with a
trajectory that passes through the first third-from-centre
plot point [B] then follows around to the opposite edge [C],
continuing through to the next third-from-centre [D] point,
ending where it began [A]. Erase the upper or lower arc.
Foreshortening is a
common drawing term
used to describe the
shift in size when an
object recedes into the
distance. We can
visualise this when we
draw converging lines
ending at a vanishing
point. When we try to
express this in drawing
terms, especially when
studying the human
form, our brains tend
to jump in and autocorrect what we’re
seeing and this can
grossly distort parts of
the figure. The best
way to combat this is
to describe the form as
an isolated abstract
shape – break it down
into outline only, or
focus on the negative
shapes around it.
Draw a horizontal line across your surface, this will act
as your eye line or imaginary horizon line. Draw a square
directly in the centre (note no sides should be visible). Now,
above the horizon line and off to the right, draw a cube as if
you’d picked up the centre square and moved it up and to
the right. Your goal is to populate the paper with 3D cubes
as seen from various angles.
Establish a horizon line, then draw a plumb line
directly down the centre of your paper. From the converging
centre point, draw a set of diagonal lines reaching outwards
mimicking the length and width lines [A & B] from step 9,
and cap it off with an ellipse. As this first cylinder started life
at a single point (the vanishing point) we’ve actually drawn a
tiny cone. Now continue to draw more cylinders, continuing
along the established perspective plane.
ELLIPSES IN PERSPECTIVE GUIDE
The amount of distortion that occurs in a circular form is dictated
by the eye level. Ellipses become more foreshortened the closer
they get to eye level, so an ellipse in contact with the ground
appears rounder. When the ellipse is directly on the eye level we
are only seeing its edge: in 2D drawing terms this becomes a line.
How to Paint & Draw
COMBINE SHAPES TO
Now you’ve mastered drawing simple shapes, PAUL TYSALL explains how to apply
that skill to reproducing real world objects, in the form of still-life drawings.
y now you already know the
importance of breaking
forms down into simple
shapes. Not only does this
make the whole drawing
process easier to manage but it also ensures
that proportions and foreshortening
remain accurate throughout the rendering
stages by establishing them correctly early
on in the drawing.
On the following pages, we’re going to
explain how to combine different shapes to
create objects. I’m going to kick things off
with a studio-based, still-life scene.
A still-life affords us the luxury of
dictating what we study (if you struggle to
draw certain objects try adding them to
your still-life for practice) and the angle we
view them at, plus the lighting in the scene
– something that can be tricky to control
with an outdoors landscape.
In this instance I’ve opted to draw
some rather complicated objects to help
illustrate how their forms can easily be
broken down at the start of a drawing into
very basic shapes.
However, you might want to start with
objects that are, by design, closer to the
simple geometric forms used when
constructing a drawing – for example:
bottles, fruit and man-made packaging.
Complicated objects can easily
be broken down at the start of a
drawing into very basic shapes
Then we’ll take to our sketchbooks for a
spot of open-air drawing, looking at two
different settings that are really going to
push how we deconstruct them into
geometric forms: urban and nature.
Although we’re mainly working within
urban surroundings, man-made forms like
architecture being a lot easier to understand
in geometric terms, it’s important we get
some nature in there too – after all, no one
does complexity quite like mother nature.
Nature landscape studies help you to see
geomorphology as interconnected abstract
shapes emerging from planes. Trees can be
described as cylinders or sometimes cones,
and petrologic surfaces can be expressed
using merged cubes or ellipses.
Enough talk, let’s get drawing!
ALL SCENES ARE MADE OF SHAPES
Discover how the most complex compositions can be broken down into geometric shapes
Q Derwent Graphic
2B graphite pencil
clutch pencil, 2mm
Daler Rowney Soft
Q Daler Rowney A1
Q DCASS Canford
pad, 150 gsm
Collect some objects
When setting up a still-life, it really helps to think
about the objects you’re placing in the scene. Here, I’m using
an artist’s skull. Practising skulls will help improve your
portraiture work no end, the skull being the foundation of a
person’s facial features. Adding fabric is great for learning
how to describe the way clothing folds and hangs.
How to Paint & Draw
Compose your still-life
Researching classical still-life paintings will help you
understand how to construct a still-life scene. When you
place and arrange objects for the purpose of drawing, you’re
effectively learning composition, which can imbue an image
with narrative and hierarchy. If your drawing is going to be
shaded, always plan out light source placement.
Make a mental checklist
Plushy = sphere + cone + cylinders
Make a mental checklist of the objects and how you
plan to represent them as simple geometric forms and
shapes. Get familiar with the form relationships and negative
spaces. The first shape we establish is the glass vase (back
right), a very basic rectilinear shape.
The toy’s head is made from a large elliptical sphere;
the body is almost conical, cylinders at its side for the limbs.
The coffee tin and thermos are the most cylindrical shapes.
Note the ellipses that form both top planes aren’t so far from
one another but our viewing angle creates a noticeable shift.
A shoe = two cuboids
Define your details
The vase helps to act as a base value that establishes
proportions and perspective. We grow the rest of the
drawing from this object: the length of the horizontal shoe
(centre) is two and half instances of the vase’s closest top
edge. As a geometric form the shoe is two merged cuboids.
Drawing from a studio
still-life set up is an
invaluable way to
composition skills, in
nature we rarely have
the opportunity to
move and arrange
objects in the same
way we do in the
studio. Instead we
have to look for these
and position ourselves
accordingly. The best
way to learn what
makes a good still-life
arrangement is to do a
tonal study from
Gather 10 to 15
examples of good
artists you admire
– 16th century Dutch
and Flemish art has
plenty to choose from.
Using a medium like
charcoal or Conté start
to replicate the painted
objects in silhouetted
form, restrict yourself
to three or four tones
only, working very
small on a piece of A4.
Remember this isn’t
about recreating what
you see as an accurate
drawing, it’s a study.
You are studying the
the use of light and
shade – so that when
you come to assemble
your own still-life, you
have a rich mental
library to call upon.
With enough construction lines and shapes lightly
pencilled in, it’s time to begin defining details. We start out
with a Light charcoal pencil to flesh out the forms, working
up to Medium and Dark charcoal for more accurate lines. At
this stage, make sure you don’t overwork your lines.
How to Paint & Draw
CAREFUL DOES IT
Making mistakes is a
part of the drawing
process. Knowing the
best way to make a
mark is countered by
knowing the best way
to remove it. When it
comes to drawing, go
with a putty rubber for
faint marks. It can also
be kneaded to a point,
making it handy for
removing small details
or hatching into
shaded areas. For
more stubborn marks,
go with the harder
although overuse can
attack the integrity of
your surface so don’t
overdo it. Sometimes
it’s more refreshing to
go with your mistakes
though and leave them
in your drawing. You’ll
end up with a less than
accurate outcome, but
it could foster a more
original approach in
Shapes into sculptures
Start sketching with ink
We picked this location (outside @Bristol science
centre) based on the large spherical structure found outside
the main building. The square is filled with unusual
sculptures, bronze statues and water features: a very
inspiring space with plenty of geometric forms.
It’s time to flesh out the details with the ink Pitt pen.
Drawing with ink is also about confidence, which is why we
avoided details at the pencil stage. A few cross contour lines
indicate the circle is in fact a large sphere. Suggesting the
glass panels also emphasises its overall shape.
How to Paint & Draw
Add details to enhance forms
Once the eye line is indicated with a horizontal line
crossing the page, the background buildings are established;
think of these as large cubes. Avoid details like windows at
this stage. Then the large spherical structure is added: due to
its size and proximity, it’s closer to a circle than it is elliptical.
A main focal point is added to the centre of the
composition. This sculpture is a metal tree with solar panels
for leaves: good practice for drawing rectilinear forms at
varying angles. Look for details that help echo perspective
and the larger structures from your initial construction lines.
Shapes into architecture
This next landscape combines architecture and
nature: the Clifton suspension bridge. The main tower (see
insert) was under protective sheeting which actually
simplifies the overall shape, mimicking the way we should
approach forms at the start of a drawing.
Draw structure as outline
The tower is comprised of intersecting rectilinear
forms. The deck appears as a foreshortened cuboid: we’ll
maintain this throughout the rendering stages as it provides
a strong perspective path to draw the viewer into our main
focal points; the tower and the park in the background.
TRICK THE BRAIN
When artists use the
term negative space
they are simply
referring to the shapes
objects in a
parts of a single object.
Our brain’s tendency is
to ignore negative
spaces as it is more
object(s) before it.
Negative spaces can
help us construct a 2D
drawing. By seeing the
abstract outline of a
negative space and
comparing it to the
same shape in our
drawing, we can start
to see where mistakes
may be occurring.
Look for negative spaces
We also indicated a negative ellipse to achieve the
curve of the two main cables, though this was to help with
establishing the lowest dipping point; as the cable gets
closer to us, it detaches from the ellipse. The trees are a mix
of cones and ellipses merging together.
Make shapes look more natural
We’ve gone from staggered cuboids, like steps, to
more natural looking shapes to illustrate the rock faces. The
rock faces are layered planes, so we connect the diagonal
lines with (almost) vertical contour lines to indicate changes
in depth. Line weight is more relaxed; thick to thin.
How to Paint & Draw
CHOOSE THE RIGHT
Different pencils suit different styles of drawing, and there’s other equipment you
need too. Here we explain how to choose the best materials for your toolkit.
hether you’re doing
quick sketches and
layouts, or highly
renderings, graphite is
a wonderful way to produce a variety of
different looks. But buying the right pencil
for your needs is largely a question of trial
When first becoming acquainted with
using pencils for artwork, we’d recommend
buying one of each grade from 9H-9B to
become familiar with the hard/light and
soft/dark qualities of each.
Experiment with various surfaces, and a
wide variety of strokes and mark-making
(see pages 8-12 for more on that).
BLEND AND SHARPEN
After gaining an understanding of the
abilities and limitations of each pencil, you
can then investigate further with blending
tools and erasers for different effects.
A blending tool can be anything you can
use to add texture to your graphite marks.
The most obvious tool you have already to
hand: your fingers! Other blending tools
you can potentially use include tortillions,
blending stumps, paper, cloth, cotton wool,
make-up wipes, chamois, paper towels,
paper tissue, paintbrushes, and probably a
dozen other things we haven’t thought of.
Be warned, though: attempting the use
of blending tools too early can look smudgy
and amateurish, so don’t rush into this.
You also need to keep your pencils sharp.
And while a pencil sharpener is fine when
you’re just using a pencil to write with, for
drawing we’d suggest you’re better off using
a scalpel or craft knife. We explain the best
ways to sharpen pencils for drawing
purposes on pages 9-12.
If you’re just starting out you’ll no doubt
want to stick with the familiar. Graphite
pencils are the most common type used for
drawing as their composition allows for the
smoothest strokes. Once you grow in
confidence, though, it’s time to start
widening your scope.
How to Paint & Draw
For instance, you could try solid
graphite pencils. These are solid sticks of
graphite and clay composite (as found in a
graphite pencil), which have no casing
other than a wrapper or label.
Often called woodless pencils, they’re
used primarily for art purposes, as the lack
of casing allows for covering larger spaces
more easily, creating different effects.
Pastels are a great medium for producing
colourful artwork easily, with no need for
water, brushes or palettes.
The main types of pastels are soft and
hard pastels, oil pastels, pastel pencils and
water soluble pastels.
We look in more detail at how to get
started with pastels on page 20.
Then there are charcoal pencils. As the
name suggests, these are made of charcoal
and provide fuller blacks than graphite
pencils, but tend to smudge easily and are
more abrasive than graphite. Sepia-toned
and white pencils are also available for
“I use charcoal because it’s a versatile tool
that produces a variety of effects, from thin
lines to bold strokes,” says Jean-Sébastien
Rossbach, an award-winning illustrator,
concept artist and painter. However, he
adds a word of warning: as with blending
tools, “those just starting out can find it
tricky to control, with the results often
You can see some results of charcoal
being used alongside graphite in both our
shading tutorial on page 28 and our
lighting tutorial on page 30.
INK AND PASTELS
Of course, drawing isn’t just about
pencils: drawing with ink is another
popular medium that can lead to some
Traditional pen and ink consists of
black ink and white paper, creating space
through thick or thin lines, repeating
marks for texture.
There are many options for working in
ink so, just as with graphite, you’ll need to
find which best suits you by experimenting.
We look in more detail at how to draw
using ink on page 20.
If you want your drawing to feature
vibrant colours then you’ll probably want
to investigate pastels.
And that’s not all! You can also try using
carbon pencils, which produce a fuller
black than graphite pencils, but are
smoother than charcoal.
There are grease pencils, which write on
almost any surface including glass, plastic,
metal and photos.
Plus there are watercolour pencils,
designed for use with watercolour
techniques. (They can also be used by
themselves for sharp, bold lines).
In short, there’s a world of different
drawing implements out there. So start
trying different tools, and don’t hold back!
Attempting the use of blending
tools too early can look smudgy
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Illustrator Terese Nielsen explains how to pick your paper, pencils and more.
Choose the right grade
Pencils are graded on a scale from H (hardness) to B
(blackness). Generally a 2-4H pencil is as hard as one needs
for light areas, an H-B is for midrange, and a 5B-6B is for
dark areas. Rather than switching pencils for each tone,
experiment with altering the pressure. Brands vary, so
experiment to see what suits your temperament.
Try some strokes
Many strokes can be employed to indicate textures of
various objects. If you’re attempting a highly realistic style
then use very small circular strokes with your pencil;
otherwise unwanted banding of pencil marks occurs. Try
shading with a variety of tools from blending stumps to
paper tissue for better finishes.
Blending tortillons are made from rolled, loose-fibre
paper and are pointed at one end. The softer paper texture
of blending tortillons gives a different blending texture to
stumps, and they can be used to push colour and soften
Q 2-4H graphite
Q H-B graphite
Q 5-6B graphite
Q Kneaded eraser
Q Plastic eraser
Q Paper tissue
Q Charcoal sticks
Q Charcoal pencil
Choose the right paper
As much as pencil choice requires careful
consideration, the paper you choose is going to be equally
significant. If attempting to create a highly realistic style, for
example, you could try using a smooth, hot press/plate finish
surface. We prefer Arches 140 lb hot press watercolour
paper or Bristol Board plate finish.
For ink drawing:
Q Pen and nib
Q Brush pen
Q Fine-point pens
Q Erasing shield
Blending stumps are made from tightly wound paper,
formed into a stick and sanded at both ends to create
points. Used ideally to create gradations and half-tones, the
sanded area is ideal for blending while the point (ideally kept
clean) is best used to blend light-toned areas. Unlike fingers,
blending stumps leave no oily smears.
These small leather
pieces are ideal for
blending, but can be
expensive from art
shops. Instead, buy a
large piece of chamois
from a car care store,
soak it in washing
and then rinse in clean
water in a washing
machine to remove the
oils. Many things can
be used to blend, so
long as they’re dry and
soft, and don’t contain
oils or chemicals. You
could try cotton buds,
paper towels and
Unlike standard office erasers, kneaded erasers are
dry and don’t smudge or leave flaked residue. Their softness
makes them ideal on sketching paper with a lot of ‘tooth’.
These erasers can also be formed into points for picking out
highlights in eyes and hair.
How to Paint & Draw
Pencils are not the only drawing medium. We explain what ink has to
offer the artist and how to get more out of this versatile medium.
rawing with ink is a big step
up from drawing with
graphite. The most obvious
difference is that there’s no
more relying on the eraser,
but it can be a wonderfully creative
medium. Here’s how to get started...
Traditional pen and ink consists of black
ink and white paper, creating space through
thick or thin lines, repeating marks for
Ink drawing techniques can be as
delicate or bold, as your temperament
dictates: it’s all about trying things out.
First of all, pour your ink in an inkwell
high enough so that when the nib touches
the bottom, it covers three-quarters of
the nib. Start with the focal point, working
your way back and out to the lessimportant elements.
Grip the pen close to the tip and keep
the angle of the pen at about 45 degrees.
Your main subject should feature bold,
heavy lines and should have the greatest
detail and contrast.
Strokes generally start close to your body
and move outward. Use your arm and
shoulder, not just your wrist.
SENSE OF CONTROL
“Pen and ink has always been my favourite
medium,” enthuses Canada-based artist
Socar [see some of her inspiring work on
the right, and at www.gorblimey.com].
“Not only is it conveniently cheap, but I like
everything about it, from the way it gives
me precise control over every dot and
whorl, to the feel of the nib as it scratches
the tooth of the paper.”
Socar likes to draw things that can be
found in the great Canadian outdoors, like
birds, flowers, lost trinkets, roots and trees,
garbage and pedestrians. “I like to sketch
on tracing paper,” she says. “Because it’s
translucent, I can combine elements from
several sketches into one, or move them
around to experiment with composition.
Tracing paper is also one of the cheapest
papers, so it’s okay to waste some.”
How to Paint & Draw
Her tips for working in ink include the
following: “Always cover the areas of the
drawing you’re not currently working on.
This cuts down on ink spatter damage, and
keeps your skin oils off the page. Use tape
to hold the cover paper in place.
“Also remember that you can always add
more ink, but you can’t take any away.
When you want a subtle texture, like the
one I’ve used on the birds’ wings, start light
and build up slowly.
Finally, she adds: “The heavier the tooth
of your paper, the more its texture will
show. Use smoother paper for greater
One of the best known uses of ink by
professionals is in comic act, which is where
Andy Brase works.
Known for his creature, character and
cover illustrations, he’s worked on
Daredevil, Swamp Thing and Assassin’s
Creed, as well as book covers for George RR
Martin, and his own artbook/sketchbook,
“I’m often asked what tools I use to ink
my art,” he says. “Most of my detailed
works are done with Sakura Micron Pens.
Long ago, when I started inking, I used
Rapidograph technical pens, but they
started leaking and required a lot of
cleaning, so I switched.“
“Microns don’t require any cleaning up
afterwards,” Andy continues, “and they
also have more of a flexible tip than some
“Sometimes I use an opaque white
ink with a brush to make small corrections,
break up lines, or add splatters and stars.
I’m a big fan of Winsor & Newton’s
“Sakura Micron Brush pens are a good
and quick way to make small ink fills. For
big fills, such as a black background, I break
out the brush and ink.”
There’s no ‘right answer’ to what to use,
of course: it’s all about what kind of art you
want to create. “So if you’re new to drawing
with ink, it’s always good to try out some
different tools and see what works best for
you,” he recommends.
His tip for anyone drawing with ink:
“Test your pens on a separate practice sheet
beforehand, to make sure the ink is flowing
properly when you work on the drawing.”
Andy adds: “Develop your style over
time – don’t be too concerned about your
style of inking. Style will build naturally
when you’re creating your art.”
Strokes start close to your body
and move outward. Use your arm
and shoulder, not just your wrist
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