OCAD Studio: Charcoal Still Life Part 3

In this lesson we will be refining the forms in your subject. Adding and removing tone where necessary to give the main subject in the drawing a 3D quality.

Materials

  • 1 sheet of strong drawing paper (I recommend Fabriano Ingres or something similar)
  • A couple of similarly sized sheets of cartridge paper
  • A few different types of charcoal (I recommend Nitram Charcoal in B and HB)
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Hard white eraser (the normal type of eraser)
  • Sponge
  • Kitchen roll
  • Sanding Block
  • Drawing Board
  • Masking Tape

Process

Reinforcing Shadows

  1. Sharpen your charcoal and use the point to darken the shadows sufficiently. You should find some areas within the shadows which are almost black.
  2. Look for reflected light as well, this will give the shadows an airy quality. Use your kneadable eraser to remove tone where necessary. It is also possible to smooth out and lighten areas with a soft brush.

Refining the Halftones

  1. Once the shadows are complete, start laying large flat areas of halftone planes. You can do this by lightly hatching in a single direction.
  2. Keep building up areas of tone until the forms seem correct when you blur your eyes.
  3. Now you can add and remove tone where necessary to soften the transitions from shadow to halftone and between the halftone planes.
  4. Don’t make everything evenly soft though, you want a mixture of soft and hard edges throughout the drawing

Remember to keep your charcoal sharp!

Task 1: Observational Drawing

Observe this line drawing. Copy the direction of the lines, the angles of the lines and carefully observe where they start and where they end. Look into the negative spaces to see the shapes that have been created…how big is the triangular shape created between lines? Or that semi circle or conical shape? By looking only at shapes and lines you will start to draw more accurately.

This is because the right side of your brain is looking at the image, not the left. If it is the left you may have noticed what this image is…

 

 

A bird!

If you draw it this way your left side of the brain will see ‘wings’, a ‘head’, a ‘beak’… when this happens you are less likely to draw accurately. You will accidentally draw what you think it should look like, rather than what it really does look like.

So this task gives you the opportunity to build on how to use the right side of your brain when drawing from observation. Go on to more complex line drawings to challenge how you are seeing these objects.

Turning the images upside down helps with the right side of your brain to work better. Use grids on top to help further with seeing where the lines meet, and which shapes the lines create when they meet or diverge.

You can even cover part of the image with paper and observe each part of the image in turn, completely taking away any familiarity of the image and letting the right side of your brain do its job.

At OCAD we look at the following two as a good start and also a challenge. Turn your drawing the right way round at the end to be amazed at how accurate you can be.

 

A simple horse for your first go 🙂

For a bigger challenge:

Picasso: 1973 Portrait Igor Stravinsky

 

You can use any line drawing to give it a go.

When you take on your still life observations next time, the task will seem that bit easier when you reduce the image in front of you, into shapes, lines, distances, angles and negative spaces.

Give it a go 🙂

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

 

 

OCAD Studio: Charcoal Still Life Part 2

In this lesson we will be building on the lines and shapes from Part 1 by adding tone and some texture before starting to refine parts of the picture.

Materials

  • 1 sheet of strong drawing paper (I recommend Fabriano Ingres or something similar)
  • A couple of similarly sized sheets of cartridge paper
  • A few different types of charcoal (I recommend Nitram Charcoal in B and HB)
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Hard white eraser (the normal type of eraser)
  • Sponge
  • Kitchen roll
  • Sanding Block
  • Drawing Board
  • Masking Tape

Process

Adding Tone and Texture

  1. Using the softest stick of charcoal (Nitram B for example) you have, start filling in the darker shapes loosely. You can add quite a lot of tone because charcoal will erase more easily than graphite. Stick to the shapes you drew in Part 1 but don’t worry if you go over the lines a bit, we are going for a mostly loose sketchy style with this one.
  2. Once the tones are blocked in you can mess around with them. Try smoothing out the tone by rubbing it with the sponge or use pieces of scrunched up kitchen roll to make a rougher texture.
  3. You can also build up some charcoal dust by sharpening the charcoal on your sanding block. Once you have a pile of charcoal dust built up, try tipping or blowing it onto the page, this can make for really interesting droplet style textures.
  4. Keep experimenting with textures for as long as you like, it doesn’t matter if the original drawing is somewhat lost, we will find it again in the next step. The important thing is that you make a nice abstract composition with your tones and textures.

Rediscovering the Shapes

  1. Once you’re happy with the textures, you will need to rediscover the original drawing which will have likely become a bit lost during the previous stage.
  2. Focus on the main subject of the drawing as this is where we will add detail – the rest of the drawing will stay loose and sketchy.
  3. Just lightly erase any part of the subject that has been covered in charcoal during the texture stage.
  4. Once the subject is clearly visible again you can move onto the next stage.

OCAD Studio: Charcoal Still life Part 1

This exercise introduces techniques in charcoal which will provide you with a broad range of expression. We will look at loose textural application techniques that can be used to create interesting abstract backgrounds as well as refined drawing techniques that will allow you to create detailed focal points where necessary.

In this lesson we will be sketching in the main lines and shapes of shadows in preparation for the textures and forms that will be added in the next stage.

Materials

  • 1 sheet of strong drawing paper (I recommend Fabriano Ingres or something similar)
  • A couple of similarly sized sheets of cartridge paper
  • A few different types of charcoal (I recommend Nitram Charcoal in B and HB)
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Hard white eraser (the normal type of eraser)
  • Sponge
  • Kitchen towel
  • Sanding Block
  • Drawing Board
  • Masking Tape

Process

Setting Up

  1. Assemble a subject, I recommend something simple and quite like a teapot or vase with a few extra elements, such as fruit or flowers etc.
  2. Have an even background behind, this could be a panel of wood, paper or fabric.
  3. Light the subject from one side so that the shadow shapes are clear.
  4. You can photograph your subject or leave it in situ and work from life, whatever you prefer.
  5. Once your subject is ready you can sort out your paper – tape the extra sheets of cartridge paper to the drawing board before taping the sheet of drawing paper over the top. The paper below cushions the drawing paper from the board so you wont get any wood textures showing through as you draw.
  6. Set up you drawing board vertically, on an easel and next to you subject, this way you won’t have to hold it while you draw.
  7. Now you’re ready to start drawing.

Sketching in the Lines

  1. Start by roughly plotting the approximate size of the subject on the paper. You can do this by noting the farthest left point of the drawing, farthest right, top and bottom with light, sketchy marks.
  2. Once you’re happy with the size of the drawing you can start loosely adding in the specific shapes of your subject. Keep your lines very light and sketchy, you don’t need to erase everything, as the sketchiness adds character.
  3. Don’t go into too much detail, you just need to have the overall proportions blocked in before moving on.

Blocking in Shadows

  1. Once you’re happy with the line drawing, you can lightly block in the shadow shapes.
  2. Just pick the obvious dark shapes in you subject and sketch them over your line drawing. They don’t need to be very neat or dark, as we want a sketchy look and we’ll be working a lot over the top in later stages.
  3. When all the major shadow shapes in the subjects and background are in, you’ve completed the first stage!