I made a bit of time last night to drop into a studio (where there’s a model doing various poses) and do a bit of drawing to get my hand back in. She’s a great model who understands her body and uses the light well, so one sees forms quite readily through her work. I decided to try something I’d not tried before, given the strong subject matter. (It is a known technique I’d read about before, but I’d yet to deploy it.) I took a soft pencil and darkened the paper first (rubbing with a tissue to smooth a bit) and then did my sketch on top of that. (In future I’ll use those graphite sticks I have sitting in my desk and never use.) I built the layout as I usually do, needing to use a softer pencil this time to see the lines, leading to a lot more fluidity in my strokes… Then I began to refine shapes and form in two ways…. darkening a bit here and there with a slightly softer pencil and -most importantly- lightening shade by using an eraser (sharpened pink mostly… blue kneaded more rarely).
The point here is that I do a lot of subtraction in the later parts of my sketches anyway, but in the 25 minutes of the pose, especially when I am rusty (as I am now) I spend so long working on layout that I’ve not been getting to the point where I get to refine the forms and add shade, so the act of priming the paper beforehand and then subtracting works really well here, since it saves a lot of time and also makes my overall drawing more fluid. My subtraction is more on shade and less on line refinements (although the two are of course connected.) In a way, you end up sculpting the drawing more than anything else. It is a fun process. The result (click for larger view) is very unfinished and only my second attempt at this, so forgive the roughness. I just wanted to use this example explain the process for those who are interested. Another five or so minutes on this and I think I’d have got the light done pretty well.
For comparison with my usual technique when it is working well, look at the drawing from a post in January.
Some Related Asymptotia Posts (not exhaustive):