Drawing a Detailed Urban Scene: Blocking in Tones

In this series we will be creating a detailed pencil sketch from an urban subject. In this session we will be laying in general tones to start arranging the values across the drawing.

You can download the reference image here: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/IMG-0536-scaled.jpg

Materials

  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Eraser

Process

  • Begin with a few very general passes based on the general fall of light across the scene.
  • In this case the light is coming from the top left so the buildings get generally darker towards the bottom right portion of the scene.
  • After laying these general tones you can start to differentiate other larger tonal differences (such as the doors, windows and the fire escape).
  • Try to do it gradually as this approach will afford more control.
  • Keep going with this approach until all the major parts of the scene are roughed in.

Drawing a Detailed Urban Scene: Laying In

In this series we will be creating a detailed pencil sketch from an urban subject. This first session will be spent lightly placing all the major elements of the scene in an easy manner.

You can download the reference image here: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/IMG-0536-scaled.jpg

Materials

  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Eraser

Process

  • Begin by selecting an element of the scene and sketching that in.
  • I chose the horizontal section of the fire escape.
  • Working from this anchor point you can then place elements in relation to it.
  • It’s best to add in parts that are closer to the anchor point before working your way out.
  • You don’t need to elaborate much – just get all the elements in place relative to one another.

The Basic Principles of Form

In this exercise, you will be creating a sphere, but the same principles apply whenever you’re drawing or painting any form in a representational artwork. 

Use the diagram below or watch the accompanying video lesson as a guide when you create your own sphere.

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pencil or charcoal
  • Eraser

Process

Determining the Light Source

1. Draw a circle on the page or canvas, this will be the basis for your sphere. Then draw an ellipse on the ground plane, this will be the shadow cast from the sphere and determine the direction of light.

2. Draw the ‘bedbug line’ (the line that divides light from shadow) onto the form.

Establishing the Shadow

1. Fill in the the shadow shape with an average shadow value (about a 7 on the value scale). 

2. Next, fill in the cast shadow on the ground with a similar value.

Adding Variations to the Shadow

1. The shadow isn’t usually evenly dark, because in most cases, light will be reflected into the shadow after bouncing off other elements in the scene. This will cause the centre of the shadow to lighten, becoming darker towards the bedbug line (the ‘core shadow’).

2. The shadow will also become darker where two forms meet one another (like where the sphere meets the ground). This is called the ‘occlusion shadow’, it is dark because neither direct light or reflected light reaches it.

Adding Halftones and Refining the Form

1. Begin adding halftones from the bedbug line, these are the ‘dark halftones’. As the halftones move further away from the bedbug line they will receive more light, and begin to lighten as a consequence. 

  1.  If you are painting on a toned panel, at a certain point you will reach a value that matches the canvas. When this happens you should stop adding dark halftones and start working out from the lightest values. You will find these values at the part of the sphere that faces the light source. Once you’ve added all the lightest halftones, they will meet the darkest halftones.
  1. If you are drawing your sphere you can just keep adding halftones gradually. The further that halftones are from the bedbug line, the lighter they will be. At some point you will just leave the white of the paper.
  • In stronger, direct light, the transition from the bedbug line will be more harsh.
  • In weaker, diffuse light, the transition from the bedbug line will be more gradual and softer.

2. Now that all the halftones have been added you should have a roughly correct sphere. At this point you should spend time correcting value relationships and neatening up your painting or drawing. 

Painting an Alla Prima Miniature

In this one off lesson, I will be showing my approach for painting a miniature (part of my own practice). It will be an alla prima piece – which means that I will paint the entire piece from scratch all at once.

Reference Image: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/IMG-1279-scaled.jpg

Materials

  • Smooth panel or card to paint on
  • Very small paint brushes
  • Mineral spirits
  • Palette cups
  • Palette
  • Oil paints; titanium white, ivory black, burnt umber, cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson, prussian blue

Process

  • Begin by using thinly diluted burnt umber to sketch in the basic shapes of the petals and stem.
  • You can erase and correct using a clean brush dipped in mineral spirits.
  • Then paint in the flower, starting with white and the by using as simple mixtures as possible.
  • Finally, paint in the background and shadow.
  • Once the shadow and background are laid in, you can blend them together to soften the shadow edge.

Cat Sketching in Pencil – Finishing off the Drawing

In this series we will be creating a soft pencil sketch from a cat reference. You can use your own reference or work from the same one as me using the link below.

Reference: https://unsplash.com/photos/13ky5Ycf0ts

Materials

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser

Process

  • Begin by making any adjustments to values that you feel may be necessary.
  • This might include darkening/evening the background or punching out the darkest shadows a bit further.
  • You can also add more fur divisions to enhance the sense of texture.
  • Finally, try to ensure that you have captured the underlying structure of the cat’s head by looking for halftones around the eyes and snout.

Cat Sketching in Pencil – Getting Started

In this series we will be creating a soft pencil sketch from a cat reference. You can use your own reference or work from the same one as me using the link below. In this session we will be lightly establishing the main shapes and features in the drawing.

Reference: https://unsplash.com/photos/13ky5Ycf0ts

Materials

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser

Process

  • Begin by using soft simple lines to form the outline of the head.
  • You can also plot in a suggestion for the placement of the features with the face.
  • Then gradually elaborate the lines and tones around the outside of the head.
  • You can break longer lines down into smaller ones and also lay in tone to roll the forms.
  • Finally, render the eyes, nose and mouth a bit more to give the drawing a focal point.

Cute Pet Portrait in Oils – Final Touches

In this series we will be making a pet portrait in oils. In this session we will be adding some final glazes and details.

Reference Image: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1060173.jpg

Materials

  • Canvas
  • Brushes (one medium and two small)
  • Solvent (mineral spirits etc.)
  • Linseed Oil
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cup

Oil Paint

  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Cadmium Red
  • Cadmium Yellow

Process

  • Begin this final session by thickly oiling in the entire piece.
  • This will ensure that all the colours are deep and fully saturated as well as providing a smooth surface to lay details and glazes into.
  • Look for minor details like whiskers, smaller patches of textures and the smallest forms.
  • You will likely find that pure black glazed into the shadows will be a helpful way to add detail effectively.
  • That’s it – I hope you all enjoyed this series!

Cute Pet Portrait in Oils – Finishing the Forms

In this series we will be making a pet portrait in oils. In this session we will be continuing to develop the halftones.

Reference Image: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1060173.jpg

Materials

  • Canvas
  • Brushes (one medium and two small)
  • Solvent (mineral spirits etc.)
  • Linseed Oil
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cup

Oil Paint

  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Cadmium Red
  • Cadmium Yellow

Process

  • Using the same approach as part 3 – continue to develop smaller forms by adding more complex halftones and lights.
  • You can use a smaller brush to add more gradual shifts in darker and lighter tones.
  • The smaller brush will also help you to catch more specific textures (such as the strokes of the fur).
  • Once all the medium and smaller forms are added, you can leave the piece to dry.

Cute Pet Portrait in Oils – Developing Forms

In this series we will be making a pet portrait in oils. In this session we will be using halftones to develop smaller forms, while adjusting and enhancing the colours.

Reference Image: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1060173.jpg

Materials

  • Canvas
  • Brushes (one medium and two small)
  • Solvent (mineral spirits etc.)
  • Linseed Oil
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cup

Oil Paint

  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Cadmium Red
  • Cadmium Yellow

Process

  • Begin by seeing if there are any colours that are a bit (too dull perhaps).
  • If there are, mix up new colours and test them, once you’re happy you can use these colours as you develop the smaller forms (killing two birds with one stone).
  • Develop the forms using a smaller brush and mixing up halftones (more values between the shadows and lights)
  • Work your way around the chosen area (in my case I focused on the head).
  • Look for all the medium and smaller forms, once they’re in place you can leave the piece to dry.

Cute Pet Portrait in Oils – Patching in the Colours

In this series we will be making a pet portrait in oils. In this session we will be figuring out the basic colours in the piece and patching them on in a loose manner.

Reference Image: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1060173.jpg

Materials

  • Canvas
  • Brushes (one medium and one small)
  • Solvent (mineral spirits etc.)
  • Linseed Oil
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cup

Oil Paint

  • Titanium White
  • Ivory Black
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Umber
  • Cadmium Red
  • Cadmium Yellow

Process

  • Begin by working over the shadow tones established during the wash drawing stage.
  • Start by putting pure black in the darkest parts, then use burnt umber mixed with gradually more of the cadmiums to make up lighter shadow colours.
  • Next you can start to mix up the darker halftones, working your way towards the lightest parts.
  • You can use a bit of the medium to dilute the halftones.
  • Try to keep the brushwork as simple and loose as possible.
  • Finally you can mix up the lightest tones.
  • Patch them on more thickly than the halftones and shadows.
  • If necessary you can use the smaller brush to have a bit more control over the details.

Cute Pet Portrait in Oils – Getting Started

In this series we will be making a pet portrait in oils. We will begin this first session with a wash drawing – using burnt umber and solvent over a toned canvas.

Reference Image: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1060173.jpg

Materials

  • Canvas
  • Brushes
  • Burnt Umber Oil Paint
  • Solvent (mineral spirits etc.)
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Palette Cups

Process

  • Begin by using a medium sized brush to apply the basic outline in slightly diluted burnt umber.
  • You can use a second brush dipped in solvent to correct any mistakes (it will wash the paint off the surface).
  • Then keep using the same brush to block in the dark tones.
  • Again, you can use the second brush to correct any mistake (it may need to be cleaned from time to time).
  • Don’t worry if you lose some of the edge to the background (like the lower snout in my piece) as these will be recovered later.
  • Finally, you can take a smaller brush to refine the shapes a bit.
  • You can also start to soften some of the shadow edges in preparation for building form in the next session.

Sketching a Shell in Graphite and Carbon – Finishing it off

In this series, we will be creating a rendered drawing of a broken shell using a mix of graphite and carbon pencils. In this final session we will be refining the texture of the shell and make some final adjustments to the tonal relationships.

You can download the same reference I’m using here: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1090886-scaled.jpg

Here is a rough materials guide:

  • Paper
  • Old bristle brush for blending
  • Graphite pencils (mix of hardnesses)
  • Carbon Pencil (mix of hardnesses)
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Begin by shading in the background behind the shell.
  • This will ensure that the highlights on the shell are the brightest parts of the drawings.
  • (Leaving the background white would make the highlights stand out less).
  • Then use a mixture of the graphite pencil and carbon pencil to add more specific textures to the shell.
  • This may involve softening transitions or it could mean adding contrast in some areas.
  • Finish by punching out the darkest parts with carbon pencil and erasing the highlights.
  • This will make the most of tonal range available.
  • That’s it!

Sketching a Shell in Graphite and Carbon – Deepening the Tones

In this series, we will be creating a rendered drawing of a broken shell using a mix of graphite and carbon pencils. This session will be spent darkening the shadows and the darker halftones using gradual passes of tone.

You can download the same reference I’m using here: http://drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/P1090886-scaled.jpg

Here is a rough materials guide:

  • Paper
  • Old bristle brush for blending
  • Graphite pencils (mix of hardnesses)
  • Carbon Pencil (mix of hardnesses)
  • Kneadable eraser
  • Begin by adding in the darkest shadows using the carbon pencil.
  • This will give you an idea of how dark the darkest parts of the drawing can be (thereby show the range available between the darkest sections and the lightest).
  • You can then use the old bristle brush to smooth out the charcoal and soften the edges of the shadows.
  • Once you’ve laid in the darkest parts using carbon, switch back to graphite pencil and start laying in gradual passes of darker halftones.
  • Start with the darkest parts first.
  • It’s always a good idea to work from dark to light and preserve the white of the paper for brighter highlights.
  • Keep adding more and more passes of tone until you’ve roughly matched the reference.
  • Don’t worry about any details yet though!

Bighorn in Watercolour – Finishing the Painting

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this session we will be adding final details and washes.

MATERIALS

  • Watercolour paper
  • Several small – medium soft brushes
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have to hand)
  • Water pot
  • Paper towel or rag

Reference Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/6Uh-fJizwlw

  • Following on from the penultimate lesson (Part 4) we will be continuing to add fur details using a smaller brush.
  • You should try to focus on getting as much variation in colour as possible (within reason).
  • You may also need to adjust some larger regions of colour and or tone as well as the relationship between different areas.
  • Think about the overall value statement across the whole artwork at this stage and make any necessary corrections (I had to darken the lighter part of the neck for instance).
  • It is best to finish by punching out the darkest notes (and background) to get the image as defined as possible.

Bighorn in Watercolour – Adding in Finer Details

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this session we will be using a very small brush to add more details in the fur and horns.

MATERIALS

  • Watercolour paper
  • Several small – medium soft brushes
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have to hand)
  • Water pot
  • Paper towel or rag

Reference Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/6Uh-fJizwlw

  • You will only need a very small brush for this stage.
  • You can use the same colour mixtures that you used for the previous passes.
  • Feel free to play around with colour accents though (dashes of more saturated or greater colours).
  • Look for details like the finer ridging in the horns or the fur.
  • Pay particular attention to what’s happening at the shadow edge as this is where more texture is apparent.
  • I also recommend that you try to maintain a reasonable amount of white paper to maintain a sense of luminosity in the picture.

Bighorn in Watercolour – Developing the Halftones

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this session we will be adding transitions and textures in the halftones.

MATERIALS

  • Watercolour paper
  • Several small – medium soft brushes
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have to hand)
  • Water pot
  • Paper towel or rag

Reference Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/6Uh-fJizwlw

  • Begin by adding the darkest halftones in gradual washes. These will be developed out of the shadow edge.
  • Try to avoid adding tone in the light areas for now as we don’t want to lose the luminosity of the image.
  • You can allow the brush to splay a bit because this will create a texture that emulates fur.
  • Once the halftones are in, you can go back into the shadows and start to lay some darker sections again.
  • This will likely be needed to create enough tonal space for the halftones to work.
  • Likewise, you can push the background much darker as well, because this will help to pop out the bighorn and enhance the glow of the lightest parts.
  • You can use wet washes at the edge of this dark tone to create a blurry transition.

Bighorn in Watercolour – Laying in Darker Colours

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this session I will be showing you how to lay in some darker tones / colours in order to separate the shadows and lights more clearly.

MATERIALS

  • Watercolour paper
  • Several small – medium soft brushes
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have to hand)
  • Water pot
  • Paper towel or rag

Reference Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/6Uh-fJizwlw

  • I would begin with the background as this will help separate the bighorn from its surroundings.
  • Use a fairly big brush for speed (and to avoid adding too much detail too quickly).
  • If there are any suggestions of shapes or colour shifts, you can go ahead and suggest them – in a fairly blurry manner ideally (using wet into wet brushwork).
  • Once the background is in place you can start washing darker tones over the subject in shadow.
  • Colours may vary; the horn shadows are much yellower and warmer than the cooler tones of the fur in shadows for example.
  • You can finish by swapping to a smaller brush and adding some more specific dark notes and define the shadow edges more definitively.

Bighorn in Watercolour – Initial Wash Painting

In this series of lessons, I will be showing you how to make a watercolour painting from a bighorn sheep reference. In this first session we will be going straight in with a watercolour wash.

MATERIALS

  • Watercolour paper
  • Several small – medium soft brushes
  • Watercolour paints (anything you have to hand)
  • Water pot
  • Paper towel or rag

Reference Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/6Uh-fJizwlw

  • Begin by using extremely diluted watercolour with your biggest brush.
  • It doesn’t matter what colours you use really, as this initial pass of paint will be so light.
  • Try to keep your lines simple as you feel out the proportions.
  • Make sure to correct anything that is wrong as soon as you notice. The fewer proportion mistakes at this stage, the easier it will be to continue with the rest of the piece.
  • Once the general shapes are blocked in, you can use the diluted paint to start massing in the darker shadowy regions of the piece.
  • Then you can use the smaller brush to start developing more specific details across the piece.
  • You can make the paint less diluted for this stage (not super dark – just slightly darker than the first pass over).
  • If you have got pretty good proportions from the first two stages, you should find it a bit easier / more relaxing to start laying in details.

Detailed Brush and Pen Drawing – Final Touches

This is a series that will show you how to make an artwork in ink using a mixture of brushwork and pen. In this session you will learn how to add final details to finish the piece off.

You can use the same reference as me by downloading it here: https://i1.wp.com/drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/P1090849.jpg

Materials

  • Watercolour paper
  • Small soft round brush
  • Indian ink
  • Water pot
  • Pencil
  • Use a very small brush to add very small details.
  • You don’t need to change anything drastic – just add to what is already there.
  • Use a mixture of lighter, washier tones and richer, darker tones with less diluted ink.
  • Pay particular attention to the textures that occur where the forms are turning from light to dark as this is where they will be most pronounced.
  • You can add details in the darker areas as well.
  • At this stage we are working over the entire piece as one thing.
  • That’s it! You should have completed a lovely ink piece in pen and brush 🙂

Detailed Brush and Pen Drawing – Bolder Accents

This is a series that will show you how to make an artwork in ink using a mixture of brushwork and pen. In this session we will be darkening the accents in the shadows to increase contrast.

You can use the same reference as me by downloading it here: https://i1.wp.com/drawandpaint4free.artcoursework.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/P1090849.jpg

Materials

  • Watercolour paper
  • Small soft round brush
  • Indian ink
  • Water pot
  • Pencil
  • This time we will be using less diluted ink in order to make sure that the darker tones are extra punchy.
  • Start with the parts of the shadows that are near black and then work your way towards lighter shadows.
  • This is still somewhat ‘glazing’ based as the ink will still be slightly transparent as it dries.
  • Take advantage of this by applying a few passes of ink to soften gradations.
  • You can also begin to add more refined textures where necessary.
  • We will be continuing to add more textures with a small brush next week as we move towards completion.