How Do I Create Tone In My Pencil Drawings?


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elizabeth murray Profile
To be able to add tone to your pencil drawing, you need to have the correct equipment. A soft pencil such as 3B or 4B can create a wide range of tonal effects. You also need a putty rubber to be able to highlight areas.

First, make a note of the position of the light source, and consider how this makes everything in your drawing appear. The naked eye is very good at spotting tonal mistakes. Next, decide on the darkest point in your drawing. Apply this first to give you a marker for the darkest shade. You can compare all other tonal points against this.

Now you need to fill in any mid areas. Ensure the pencil remains slanted, and gradually lighten the pressure as you shade. This will make the tone graduated and soft. Rub all the shaded areas with your finger to make them less harsh. Leave any highlighted areas clear. Your picture will now begin to take form.

To perfect the tones, measure the various mid tones against the darkest area. Sometimes what is expected is not necessarily what can be seen. Adjust the tone accordingly, smudging with the finger for softness. Dust shaved from the pencil lead can be applied to the paper and rubbed in for a very subtle tone. Cross hatching, where you shade with the pencil stroke in one direction, then overlap in the other direction, can create a very bold tonal effect.

To complete the drawing, use the putty rubber to lift out and highlight any areas that are particularly light or striking. This will give your drawing a full 3D tonal effect.

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