Step by Step: Rhythm and shad­ows

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Artist Insight | Rhythm And Shape -

1 Start by ex­plor­ing

This is just a loose ex­plo­ration of shapes and rhythm. I’m usu­ally look­ing for pleas­ing shapes and in­ter­est­ing neg­a­tive space. It’s easy for me to get lost in find­ing de­tails at any stage, and de­pend­ing on my in­ten­tions for the piece I of­ten just let go and ex­plore in what­ever di­rec­tion the draw­ing seems to favour.

2 Sculpt­ing with shad­ows

Now I find the shad­ows that will sculpt the form, im­age or com­po­si­tion. This can change the de­sign and di­rec­tion, and is a stage where you must be un­afraid to use your eraser. Un­less you have spe­cific ref­er­ence to draw from, you may have to chase the form un­til you find it. Once you find it, how­ever, it may al­ter the form’s hi­er­ar­chy.

3 Push­ing the val­ues

Now I push the ren­der and look for val­ues that need to be coaxed into place. Of­ten this is the most fun stage of my draw­ing process, but sig­nif­i­cant changes can still hap­pen within the piece. I try to stay open to the pos­si­bil­ity that large ar­eas might need to be erased and then re­drawn at any stage.

8 Lost and found edges

It’s very im­por­tant to understand how edges cre­ate depth, re­solve el­e­ments and im­ply di­men­sion­al­ity. With con­cept work, lost edges aren’t al­ways an is­sue. A clearly de­fined sil­hou­ette is of­ten what’s re­quired but in illustration, per­sonal work and so on, it tends to make an im­pres­sion.

9 Add matte fix­a­tive

Af­ter a graphite piece reaches a cer­tain point and ev­ery­thing is in place, I’ll spray it with a matte fix­a­tive. When it’s dry I use a broad soft brush and ap­ply ul­tra-matte medium mixed with a bit of wa­ter (use a thick pa­per for this to work with­out buck­ling). This kills the graphite gloss but it also light­ens the val­ues a bit. You can now punch the value range if you tweak your im­age with a darker draw­ing tool, such as Nero black ex­tra soft pen­cil or even Pris­ma­color black. The im­age will also scan bet­ter be­cause it’s all matte.

10 Don’t be afraid to get dirty

As long as you clearly understand what your light­est value in a piece will be, light smudges and erased val­ues that leave a grey ghost aren’t any cause for alarm. Very many be­gin­ner artists’ draw­ings are less suc­cess­ful be­cause they leave too much white on the pa­per. In other words, there’s not enough draw­ing in their draw­ing. I’m a very pale per­son, but the light­est ar­eas of my skin are still darker in value than a white or even a cream-coloured piece of draw­ing pa­per.

11 Rub­bing for a rea­son

Draw as much with an eraser as with a pen­cil. It’s of­ten much eas­ier to find shapes and tex­tures with the broad stroke of a kneaded eraser than with a pen­cil. I of­ten dis­cover my best ac­ci­dents with the eraser.

It’s very im­por­tant to understand how edges cre­ate depth, re­solve el­e­ments and im­ply di­men­sion­al­ity

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