How to Draw Dark Black Areas

Posted: July 6, 2012 in Pencil Drawing Tips
Tags: , , , ,

How to Draw Dark Black Areas: I generally use a SHARP B or 2B and go back and forth in small ¼ inch areas, expanding outward. I keep TURNING the pencil in my fingers, SO THAT the point digs deep into the TOOTH of the paper. When that area is complete, I then will go over it again with something softer, like 3B, 4B, etc. The final layer is to use a harder H pencil, and go over it again. When the drawing is complete, the spray fixative will tone down the shine.

1) The paper you use MATTERS! I use only “Bristol Smooth” (300 series) by Strathmore, which is much thicker than drawing paper, so it has a strong tooth to the paper. It takes a little getting used to, but I swear you will love it!!
2) I use either B or 2B. The softer you go (3B-9B) the more clay is mixed into the graphite, which makes it like a crayon and hard to blend.
3) I KEEP the pencil SHARP, and I hold it SIDEWAYS (over-hand grip).
4) I do small sections at a time (1/2 inch sections)
5) I TURN the pencil in my fingers as I darken the area. This also helps keep the pencil sharp.
6) I use a back and forth scraping motion, which I can FEEL dig into the paper.
7) I end up going back over it more than once before finished, in a different direction.
8) I LATER use a harder pencil (H, F) and go over the dark area again
9) I use a “workable spray fixative” made by Krylon which reduces glare
10) I NEVER use a software program to “paint” the black areas of a drawing

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Comments
  1. Paulette Dumas says:

    Hi l love your work. I want to know where do you get those great photos? From off the web? If so what is the website? Thanks

  2. Your vid’s and this blog are super helpful! Loving your work! I have started a female face,with the light on the left, and dark contrast shadow on the right. In the photo, the majority of her hair is just black, with just subtle highlight’s being picked up around the face. I see the fur trim on this image and the highlight’s through his hair, which is similar to the effect i need to try to do. Do you have any tip’s or tutorial’s, as my brain is finding it hard to compute right now? lol

  3. JeffBodeen says:

    Thanks, I’ve just read that again, and I’ll take your Advise about going over the B/2B with another Grade!

  4. Terry Martin says:

    I would also like to know where you get those great photo references with the fantastic contrast that Paulette Dumas asked about?

  5. Terry Conrad Martin says:

    Rick , I’m asking a controversial question I’m sure. Can you give me the “brief version” answer on the use of reference photos off the net for fan art and copyright infringement. I If the drawings are for practice and display in Facebook graphite artist groups. (no sales involved), do I have to be concerned about copyright infringement? If I prefix my searches as “copyright free” images on the web, can I be sure that the subjects are really copyright free?

    • drpencil says:

      Hi Terry, I honestly don’t know? I would think it matters ONLY if you PROFIT from a drawing taken from a ref photo, but honestly, to me, it’s about as worrisome as a cloud day 😉

  6. Mike May says:

    Hi Terry, just before reading this article, I was reading an article that you posted by Mike Sibley titled, “Applying Soft Graphite over Hard?” from May 19th, 2012 in which Mike stated that the harder the graphite, the greater the clay content. In essence, soft graphite has very little clay mixed in which is why it is so slick and shiny compared to hard graphite.
    I mention it, because you suggest the opposite in this article. Can you clear up the confusion?
    Thanks Terry!!!

    • drpencil says:

      Guess I was wrong 🙂
      ——————————————
      Pencil ‘Lead’

      “Pencil lead is made of a mixture of graphite and clay. The graphite is the part that makes the dark mark on the paper. The clay is there because graphite on its own is far too soft and crumbly to write or draw with. Thin leads for mechanical pencils are similar, but with a polymer or resin taking the place of the clay.

      Wooden pencil leads also have a little wax or grease added for extra smoothness. In mechanical pencil leads, this is replaced with oil.”

      The grade, or hardness, of a pencil is due to the proportions of graphite and clay (or polymer/resin). More graphite makes for a softer lead, and more clay makes for harder lead.

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