Do you find it difficult to get your values correct on your drawings? Do you get frustrated when you see tons of tiny little white spots on your drawing? Do you ever wonder how some graphite artists can make their drawings look so realistic? In this drawing tip article, you will discover how to get rid of the little imperfections by conditioning your drawing paper.
There are a few different reasons why your drawings will have imperfections. Today I want to go over the little white spots. In the real world, most objects do not have little white spots on them. If you look at persons, face you will not see little white spots. There is a way to draw smooth value changes that do not have a gritty look.
Drawing Tip – Conditioning Your Drawing Paper For Shading
The drawing surface that you use will have imperfections. Most graphite artists use Strathmore Vellum Bristol Board (Amazon affiliate link) or Strathmore Smooth Bristol Board (Amazon affiliate link) for their finished drawings. Bristol board or any drawing paper used by artists have raised bumps (known as “tooth.”) The “tooth” grabs on to the medium that is being used to create a line. In between the bumps are valleys. These valleys are why you see a “gritty” texture or little white spots on the line.
Hard and Soft Leads
The pencil grade that you are using will determine if the graphite will reach the bottom of the valleys or not. The harder grades (any H grade graphite pencil) will reach the valleys. The softer leads (B grade pencils) will just glide on top of the “tooth” and not reach the valleys creating a “gritty” look.
You will need to use a sharp, hard grade pencil when you first start shading. The sharp tip reaches the valleys. Once the tip starts to get dull, you will notice that the lines will start to more and more “gritty.” Use a sandpaper block (Amazon affiliate link) to keep your pencil sharp.
Conditioning Your Drawing Paper
To create smooth value changes with your drawings, you will want to use layers of graphite. Many artists, in the beginning, use different pencil grades based on the darkness of the value that are drawing. The softer the lead is, the darker the lines will be. The problem that occurs is that the softer the lead is, the more “gritty” the line is.
To create smooth values, you will want to condition your paper. You start off by adding value to the drawing surface using a harder lead. I always start with a 2H. The 2H pencil is hard enough to add value to the valleys of the paper and will keep a sharper tip longer.
When I can not add any more value to the surface with the 2H pencil, I will use an HB pencil and layer graphite over the 2H pencil. If I need the value to be darker after using the HB pencil, I will use a 2B pencil and continue to layer the area with different grades until I reach the darkness that I desire.
By layering the values, you will be able to reduce the “gritty” look. It will take longer for you to complete the drawing but the time invested will be well worth the effort.
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