Category Archives: Project 2: Detailed observations of natural objects

Part 2: Project 2: Exercise 1: Detail and Tone


Very brief notes: I enjoyed this immensely and was surprised how well you could indicate tone and shape with line (contour line, hatching and stippling)… and the range of weight both by pressure and breaking the line.

Another thing I played with was finding the pattern and trying to find a composition/interesting aesthetic as well as be true to the object. So, true enough to read but also have compositional elements that improve artistic balance. This was mainly intuitive by ‘feeling’ what worked.

This is the first time I’ve drawn something and not felt I had to ‘copy’ it exactly as it was. A different criteria for success – it’s liberating and opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

A few things I found especially hard.

This was an oyster shell in case you hadn’t guessed!

There was lots of pearly white with minute gradations in texture/tone that became apparent if you stared at it for several minutes. To render this was extremely difficult.

However, if I could have done it as the eye is extremely sensitive and would have picked it up.

So, in terms of realism the tones were challenging – part of this is lack of skill with the pencil but also part of it is making a strong structured composition which required stronger local contrasts.

Finally two technical points.

If you press on too hard and ’emboss’ the paper you can’t draw over it and it loses it’s life. Much better to build up dark tones by many layers light application. Note to self: be patient!

Using the rubber to try and lift some pencil to indicate a lightening of tone didn’t work and just made the shell look muddy. Even going back over it didn’t rescue it. So I abandoned this as a technique fairly early on. I think the rubber works best to lift ‘dust’ off highlights not lighten hatching… or maybe where you’re shading it works better than when you’re using line.

I’m happy that my drawing achieves some of what I attempted – it resembles the shell and has some compositional elements.