Intricate pencil art
Miles Johnston on values and edges.
Everyone has drawn in pencil. For most of us it’s probably the first drawing tool we ever used. When I was a beginner and I would find out about a new artist, I was always attracted to their pencil drawings most of all.
Since then I’ve studied oil painting, worked as a digital illustrator and tried out many different media, but I always feel the pull back to pencil calling. I think it never hurts to see what you can get out of pencil and paper. There’s a satisfying purity to knowing the only thing between you and the end result is your imagination and your skill.
Over the past few years I’ve settled into a working method with graphite that’s pretty efficient for the kind of results I was interested in. Now I’d like to share with you my method for creating this illustration, from the tools and techniques I use, to an outline of my workflow and sketching process. Limitations can be creatively liberating, and working around the restrictions of graphite will improve your abilities as an artist.
I’ll try to cover how to capture a strong sense of light using the comparatively restricted value range of pencil. I’ll show you how to master simple tools to achieve varied mark-making, combining smooth blending and hatching techniques. These will enable you to develop exciting edge variation and gain precise control over your rendering. I’ll also reveal how you can use different kinds of contrast to create satisfying compositions.
Pencil is mostly seen as a sketching medium, but I’d like to show you that by following some simple guidelines it’s possible to produce polished finished pieces out of pencil that can stand alongside other work in your portfolio. Miles is a freelance illustrator born in England. He now lives in Sweden, where he’s a part-time instructor and artist in residence at the Swedish Academy of Realist Art. See his art on Instagram: @miles_ art.