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11 Quick Tips on Drawing with Graphite Pencils

Graphite has always been a go-to medium for many artists. Whilst, for some pencil drawing, is the skill that introduced them to this wide-ranging art world, many others fell in love with the portable and clean medium of graphites and mastered the art of pencil drawing. Undoubtedly, some of the most incredible works of art can be found in a sketch art gallery across the world.

If you have also developed an interest in working with graphites lately but are confused about how to get started, here are some pro tips to guide you.

  1. Master The Right Grip

The first step in pencil sketch art is to master the technique of holding a graphite pencil correctly. Rather than holding the pencil from the point, you should grasp it firmly using the side of the lead similarly like you hold a piece of charcoal. This will not only help you draw more conveniently but will also keep your graphites sharper for longer.

For drawing wide and softer lines, hold the pencil perpendicular to the line while to add details, and make sharp and narrow marks, hold the pencil parallel. Resort to using the point of the graphite pencil only when you are working on intricate details.

  1. Be Careful With Your Lines

Every line and mark you draw will eventually shape your sketch art and significantly affect its overall look and feel. Hence, always ensure that you are careful about every stroke you make and avoid every mark that you are not sure about.

Factors such as how fast you draw a line, pressure, and the weight you put into a stroke significantly impact the look of the line. For example, a heavy line 
is usually dark and definite while a lightly drawn line is always pale and exploratory.

  1. Begin With Underdrawing

For beginners, it is always advisable to lay a rough underdrawing of the composition beforehand. Experts recommend using a hard lead pencil, maybe a 2H for the base as it keeps lines light, easy to modify. Alternatively, you can also consider using a digitally printed one.

Having a more fluid foundation already in place will help you perceive the final result without the intimidating commitment of getting everything accurate and perfect.  However, don’t limit yourself to the underdrawing and use it as a guide to proceed further letting your intuition take over your creativity.

  1. Work From Left-to-Right

Graphite pencils are prone to smudging which makes it extremely difficult to keep everything neat. Things would be easier if you plan beforehand about which area of the composition you should work so that you don’t end resting your hand on areas you have already drawn. This means that ideally you should work top to bottom and move left to right if you are a right-hander else work right to left.

  1. Vary Line Thickness

Beginners are generally unaware that adding lines of varied thicknesses and weights can help infuse depth and even a three-dimensional appearance to your work. At the same time, it also allows you to direct the viewer through your sketch art.

Thicker lines help indicate importance or guide the viewer towards the elements of your composition that forms the foreground. You can even use this technique to differentiate between two distinct objects placed overlapping each other, for example, a thicker line on the outer portion of an object marks the distinction between the outside lines and the inner lines representing the details of the subject in the drawing.

  1. Mix Shading Techniques

When it comes to shading with graphite pencils, there are lots of different drawing techniques that you can use. The first deals with all the lines going in the same direction. This technique makes the shading look more cohesive, with the details popping out from the lines used. The second method is related to shading in patches and helps to define shape, keeping things in perspective.

  1. Control Lines In Detailed Area

If you’re working on a portion of the composition involving detailed work, be mindful of your graphite pencil line. This is the key to creating cleaner and tighter line work.

Don’t rush and be extremely careful of the look of your line and the pressure you are applying to the graphite pencil and on the paper surface. In fact, take time to regularly step back and check the overall effect of the composition drawn and ensure that the lines are consistent and steady throughout.

  1. Master The Art of Blending

To master the technique of blending, it is essential that you follow a step-by-step process. It starts with drawing an outline, this will help you check the form/shape before committing to the final structure. This will also give you a clear perception of the correct placement of the highlights, shadows, and lighting. Later slowly build up the structure creating subtle and softer layers. After laying each layer, you can consider blending it gently using the stump. Once you reach a stage you see the results that you envisioned, move to the final step of adding the final outline wherein create the final layer, and do not blend it.

  1. Start Light and Build

When working on a pencil sketch, use light and loose lines to explore and avoid committing too early with darker lines. As you progress closer to the composition, your lines will change, so step back and keep a check on the work. Move to darkening the lines and incorporating details only towards the end. Also, don’t focus on a particular portion of drawing for too long so as to avoid indulging in overdrawing, and messing up everything.

  1. Clean Up After Yourself

An important tip to remember while working with graphite pencils is to clean up during the process of drawing itself and not wait for the end so that you don’t miss out on any area.

Indeed, in drawing an eraser is  just as important as the pencil itself. There are quite many different types that you can get into your supplies but whichever you use make sure that it is handy so that you can quickly rub off any unwanted elements. For example, if a line gets too thick than required, erase the entire line or try slimming down the line using the edge of the eraser.

  1. Check And Recheck

Before you move towards making stronger, darker lines and adding the details, it’s very important that you ensure that the correct form is in place. The key to getting this right is  to check and check again.

Nailing down the foundation before adding details will keep the composition symmetrical and just.

Also, make sure that you always listen to your gut while drawing, and if it is indicating that something is off, give it precedence.

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