Pencils and Pens
So a couple of weeks back, I mentioned that I wanted to do a series of posts on my drawing process. I don’t know if people care about this sort of thing, but I always like to learn how somebody does what they do. I find the various techniques rather fascinating. I decided to take the pencil drawing of the Parthenon in Greece that I did for my post on February 9, and document that illustration’s process to completion. I will probably only do one a week and over three or four weeks walk through what I do. So with out further ado…
For this project, I needed to see images of the Parthenon in order to have a model from which to base my sketches. A quick Google search later, I had countless images from both Greece and Nashville. I use a program called Skitch to grab quick selections of images and easily compile them in a library. The images are only screen resolution and I don’t keep them for printing or any use other than reference because other people took the photos and that’s not so cool, but Skitch helps collect them in its library and I can call them up easily. It works well. For this project, I was also given a print out of each of the monuments and that has helped determine which angle to use (this fact will be significant in me creating more work for myself later).
After I picked three or four good reference photos, I pull them up on screen and start my pencil drawings. Right now I’m using 2H Kimberly Drawing pencils, mainly because they’re cheap. They have a good line, but they don’t hold their points very well. I prefer Sanford Turquoise pencils, but the Kimberlys work for now. Despite my high school art teacher’s insistence that drawing pencils are superfluous and you can use a #2 pencil for any line you want to draw, I prefer the slightly harder lead of the 2H. I tend to do everything a bit heavy-handed and this helps me keep my lines lighter.
For the Parthenon drawing I sort of lucked out and nailed it on the first try. My goal in these drawings is to do fairly accurate rendering of the real thing, but with enough of a whimsical feel that it fits in a children’s book. I started with a reference cube and I did not have much hope that it would actually be the final one, but it came together. You can see the reference lines to my vanishing points in the sketch, which I am having to relearn how to use. The project calls for a number of known buildings around the world and so I am having to dust off the old, tried and true perspective principles.
Once I settle on a pencil drawing that I move to inking. I have thought about skipping this and doing it digitally, but I really enjoy this part of the process. There was a time when I considered practicing enough to try and be an ink artist for comic books, but I have since learned that I am not nearly good enough for that level of work. Right now I’m using Pigma brand Micron pens and I like them a lot. Their ink is not as black as I would like, but they are easy to use and since I am going to scan the artwork, I can fudge some of the ink quality. I would like to try some nicer pens in the future, but for now these will work fine.
I use four different sizes of pen tips and try to use the weight of the lines to create depth in my drawings. I did not do this well in the above drawing of the Parthenon, but the more illustrations that I have done for this project, the better I have become. There is something about this part of the project that I love. As I go over lines and determine how to pull certain elements out the piece begins to take shape and look more and more like a finished project. My goal after this project is complete is to experiment with different ways to maintain the integrity of my original lines when I move the art from paper to digital. Which leads us into the next part of this series, Digital Ink and Color – stay tuned!