Beginning the Drawing

After the very small thumbnail sketches to plan how I will compose a scene, it’s time to begin the actual drawing.  I’m going to be working on an 8″ x 10″ piece of 140 lb hot press watercolor paper.  Arches is my brand of choice.  I love the way the ink from my pigma micron pen and my watercolors flow effortlessly across this surface.

Before the ink and watercolor arrive on the scene, I lay out the design on the paper.  For this I use an HB pencil and lightly draw the large shapes.  This gives me a road map for my vertical lines.  I know some people just jump in with a pen, but I find I have more confidence if I have a few guidelines down first.   However, when I tried to take a photo of the light sketch, it was so pale the camera wouldn’t pick it up.  I had to go in and darken my lines for you to see my starting point.

100 pencil

Then, I erased the dark lines and started in with ink.  The first pass over a drawing is usually a “tone” of widely spaced vertical lines indicating the areas of middle and darker values.   This provides a foundation on which to build the drawing.  And, it helps me keep the whole scene connected.  Take a look:


I make sure to draw with a light touch and widely space these lines across each major shape.  If it gets too dark too soon, it’s impossible to fix.  So I work up the values gradually, maintaining the balance and design.  Next week I’ll start building the values.  Stay tuned!


100 ink


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