I have decided to document, approximately, the process involved in creating one of my drawings. Perhaps it will be of interest to others who are, like me, learning to draw. Otherwise it will just be an interesting note for me to look back on. If you have any comments on the following, please write to me!
The idea of this image came to me in April 2002 while working, and I quickly made a note of it. Initially, I thought of it as a silhouette, but later decided to do it as a pencil drawing. I had made two tiny thumbnail sketches (not reproduced here) to go with my notes, just showing the basic composition of the scene.
A few days later, I started by drawing the rough outline of the face and head, and very lightly the outer circle. At this stage, I have enough of an idea of the shape of the face to be able to draw a reasonably realistic outline from the front or the side.
I needed to get a feel for the hands, so I experimented on a piece of writing paper that was nearby, with my own hands as a reference. The result was actually quite good, and I was later disappointed that I had not done it on better paper.
With this experience, then, the next step was to draw the near hand. I should have drawn a very rough outline to fix the position, but finding this difficult, I ended up detailing the hand considerably before realising that it was not at all in the right place. So I had to erase the first attempt, and was then more successful at positioning the hand correctly.
Until now the outlines were very rough and approximate. I drew the outline of the rear hand, added detail to the face and hair, and refined all the shapes until I had a simple, clear outline of the image. The face detail took some effort, and I searched through some photographs to find the side view of a face as a reference. While doing this I also adjusted the face outline to be more that of a child's face. Was I successful?
At this stage, I would still have done the image as a silhouette, but it had come to my mind that the image would also work well as a pencil drawing. I scanned the image to preserve its current state, and could still use it as a basis for a silhouette if I wished.
Having this security, I was free to begin shading the drawing in pencil. I usually add shading very slowly, starting out very light, and very gradually adding darker shades. I find that as the shading is gradually developed, I gain a feeling for the forms, and I can more accurately add shading this way than by applying it all at once.
I began with the hand, which progressed rather quickly, and I then began with the edges of the circle and around the outside of the shapes, adding a suggestion of a shoulder, and shaping it and the arm to mingle in with the background. I added just a touch of shading to the face and hair.
I continued working on the face and head. I drew basis of the hair, and added shading to the side of the face. I also began to shade the front of the face, which was difficult. However, I am happy with the way the form of the face and the cheek is developing.
I note that shading with the side of the pencil invokes the grain of the paper much more than with the tip. One must take care not to mix the two kinds, as they do not go together. However, the tip must be used in some cases, as the side of the pencil is too large for detail work.
The hair was over-detailed, so I simplified the back of the hair while darkening it. I added more shading everywhere, and made adjustments until I was happy with the forms. I adjusted the arm somewhat as it was too curved.
I could have further darkened the drawing to add contrast, but I was happy with it as it was. However the concept of the picture was not yet coming across really clearly. Therefore I added further shading to the background and formed the rays of light.
The concept is that the girl is holding a shining thing (or the thing is floating just within her hands). I am not exactly sure what the thing is; perhaps it might be a gemstone, or a star, or a fairy. The illumination in the scene is all coming from the thing.
Here is the finished image, with the contrast adjusted slightly. I think the coarse texture derived from the paper grain is very successful here.
As noted above, my initial drawing of the hands was on poor-quality writing paper (ruled!), and when it came out so well, I was disappointed that I had not done it on good paper. But the thing was done. An hour later, after careful restoration on computer, the lines are gone and the drawing actually looks rather nice, in its own way.
I initially used an F pencil for the outline and initial shading. The rest was all done with an HB pencil. I used a rubber while developing the outline and in a couple of places to adjust the shading. The drawing was done on Bockingford 110 gram acid-free drawing paper, on my desk pictured below.
Images on this page are copyright © 2002 Mario Becroft. All rights reserved.