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Sketching Techniques

June 5, 2009

I thought I’d take a moment to talk about some of my sketches, and show a few recent ones. Whether I’m drawing in a live location, such as a park or library, or indoors in a studio setting I still tend to work in a similar manner, which is to begin quickly and cover the page with the whole scene or model, and then finish it up more slowly. The first marks are roughed in shape outlines that layout the page, followed by flat areas of shading for the middle and darkest tones. Once everything is placed, then I can start refining the drawing, and if my preliminary sketch is accurate enough, I can easily finish it hours later.

Linguistics lecture

Linguistics lecture


I hope you can get a sense for those early stages in this drawing of a live lecture I attended a few months ago.

I tend to prefer to leave as much of the preliminary marks as possible so that the viewer can see the process. When working in graphite, I very seldom erase any marks unless I think they need to be lighter. Drawing is like carving. I often sketch in ink as well, usually with a marker pen.

I work in pencil very much like I draw in ink, meaning I rarely do any soft blending, concentrating on the contour direction and using cross-hatched lines; although, I do also take advantage of the light to dark values that graphite offers. This is what I enjoy about paint also, where the marks are allowed to be marks, and not hidden by a mechanical technique. Some people may be afraid of sketching in ink due to the permanency of it and being unable to make corrections. If they draw in pencil in the same manner it can help build up their courage.

From a photo of my hand

From a photo of my hand


From paused TV screens

From paused TV screens

I sometimes use my own photos for reference, especially if I need to act out the scene. Another good source is pausing the television screen or DVD. Don’t hesitate to ask your friends. Often they will be very flattered to act as models for you.

Drawing of a friend

Drawing of a friend


From a paused DVD

From a paused DVD


Drawing a live performance

Drawing a live performance


While at the library

While at the library

This last drawing began at a local library. As she sat in front of me, engrossed in her activity, I made a very fast sketch of her on the page, and only occassionally looked in her direction so as not to make her feel uncomfortable. All I needed was to record where to place everything accurately, and then it was no longer necessary for me to look at her so I could finish the drawing later. It was sketched in pen, and the dark area of the chair was made with a litho crayon.

One last point: none of my sketches are precious commodities to me. They are just notes. I have no problem discarding or redrawing them. Most of them only exist now as digital scans. There’s always more where they came from.

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One comment

  1.   Your idea coincides with mine.and I think it’s better.



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