A (somewhat dull) Drawing Lesson That Teaches You How To Make Finely Rendered Gradations With Graphite
This drawing lesson walks you through the creation of a series of increasingly "smooth" gradations.
You can make a gradation by blending with a stump or tissue, but creating them with no blending at all creates a fine surface texture that can't be imitated.
After you've practiced, you'll be able to make hatch marks disappear and leave behind velvety smooth graphite surfaces. The soft looking teddy bear above was created almost entirely with this technique.
2B & HB pencils
Smooth drawing paper
Before You Begin
Draw four one-inch squares on smooth drawing paper.
Keep the pencils sharply pointed throughout the exercise.
Square 1 - A Rough Gradation
- Fill the upper left corner with the tip of a sharply pointed 2B pencil.
- Make several back and forth swings (or hatch marks) with the pencil held in a writing grip at a 45-degree angle.
- It should take five or six passes to darken completely or you're probably pressing too hard.
- Hatch the rest of the first half of the square, but lighten the pressure on the pencil as you approach the diagonal mid point.
- When you reach the middle, switch to an HB pencil and try to match the hatching.
- Again, make several passes to darken the hatch.
- Gradually lighten the strokes as you approach the bottom right corner, but leave the last small tip untouched.
Square 2 - A Slightly Smoother Gradation
- Once again, start the gradation with the 2B pencil in the upper left corner.
- Switch to the HB pencil at the diagonal half mark to finish.
- This time though, make the gradation smoother by filling in the spaces between the hatch marks with a sharp pencil tip.
You'll notice that the soft pencil (2B) and the hard pencil (HB) don't blend perfectly where they meet. You'll learn to blend them in the next square.
Square 3 - Even Smoother
- Create the gradation in the same way, including filling in the spaces between the hatch marks. (Yes, I know this is getting repetitive, but you do want to improve your pencil technique, don't you? Keep going.)
- Now, blend away the line where the two pencils meet by hatching the HB slightly over into the 2B's area just past that line.
- Create the gradation one more time.
- Hatch the HB over the 2B all the way up into the corner of the dark half.
- The harder pencil works as a kind of blender by pushing the softer pencil's graphite down into the grain of the paper that it skipped over, both darkening the value and making the hatch look smoother.
- Finally, pinch the kneaded eraser into small tapered point and gently "tap" out any distracting dark spots in the gradation.
If you made it to here, congratulations! You really know how to make an effort for your art, and I respect you for that.