Drawing Lesson – An Introduction to Drawing Mediums and Accessories by Ralph Serpe
So you would like to learn how to draw eh? Drawing is one of the most economical forms of art and is very easy to get started. You really do not need much. For the absolute beginner, all that is really needed is a number 2 pencil and piece of cheap scrap paper. Eventually, though, you will probably want to purchase quality supplies as you become more experiences and start producing finished drawings. This article will provide you with an introduction to some of the more popular drawing materials and accessories available to today’s artists.
Graphite Pencils: Graphite pencils, which are sometimes confused with “lead pencils”, are nothing more than a mixture of clay and the mineral graphite. These pencils are usually in the form of a long rod which is encased in wood. Graphite pencils range in grade from very hard to very soft, although the harder grades are not used as often as the softer grades. The softer grade pencils will allow you to be more expressive with your work. You can easily find a high-quality graphite pencil set online at a number of different art stores and they are usually quite affordable.
Graphite Sticks: Graphite is also available in stick forms that are sold as is or can be inserted into holders or encased in plastic. Graphite sticks are graded in the same fashion as regular pencils and are excellent for covering large areas.
Colored Pencils: If you prefer to draw in color, then colored pencils may be a good fit for you. Colored pencils are available in a variety of colors and can be purchased in sets as well. They are rather waxy in nature so if you like to work with mediums that can be blended, then this is not the right choice for you. They are best suited for techniques that utilize “optical blending” like “cross-hatching” for instance.
Water Soluble Pencils- These are a very interesting and a relatively new drawing medium. These are a wonderful alternative to watercolor paints if you prefer to work with pencil, but still want that “Watercolor” look to your work. You lay down your marks as you would with a colored pencil only when you apply water, your marks instantly dissolve creating colorful washes
Pens and Inks – Pen and ink have been around for centuries and at one point in time was one of the most common drawing mediums. Drawing in ink is rather challenging and intimidating to artists because of its permanence. Inks are impossible to erase bit this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Each line you put down adds to the expressive nature of this medium. There are many different pens available and the only way to know which one you are comfortable with is to test various pens and inks out. You have your Nib style pens which are essentially a holder which accepts various nibs of different sizes and shapes. Then there are technical pens which are available in various sizes. These pens provide the means to create consistent lines no matter the force of pressure. Other pens include felt tip, roller ball, sketching pens, fountain and reed pens.
Chalk – Chalk is one the oldest drawing mediums in existence today. Today chalks are created by mixing limestone, pigments, water and a binding medium. There are a variety of chalks available to today’s artists. Conte crayons are a very popular type of chalk. Conte crayons are hard and less prone to breaking. Drawing chalks are also quite popular and are quite similar in appearance and texture to pastels.
Charcoal – Charcoal is made from charred willow and is a very versatile medium. Like chalk, it is also a very old medium that has been in existence for hundreds of years. Charcoal is a very expressive medium and produces rick, dark lines. Like graphite, charcoal is also sold in various grades from hard to soft and is available in different sizes.
Pastels – Pastels can sometimes be difficult to classify as certain pastels like soft and oil pastels, can be applied in an almost painterly fashion. However, because they cannot be mixed in the same way that paint can, and are therefore classified as drawing mediums. Pastels come in a variety of different formats. Some of the more popular are soft pastels and oil pastels but they also come in pencil, crayon, and water-soluble varieties.
Sharpeners – There are a variety of different ways to keep your pencils or drawing mediums sharpened. Always try to keep your pencils sharpened to a fine point. You will get a cleaner, more direct line that way. The best kind of sharpener is really a matter of personal preference. Manual sharpeners are believed to be a better choice as there is more control and less waste making them more economical. If not used properly, an electric sharpener can devour your pencils. A sharp craft knife is sometimes used and creates a longer point to work with.
Erasers – Erasers are available in a variety of different shapes and materials. One of the most widely used and most effective erasers is the kneaded eraser. A kneaded eraser is almost like silly putty and can be molded into any shape making it an excellent tool for erasing small areas of a drawing and a kneaded eraser does not leave marks or unwanted residue.
Fixatives – Fixatives are used to create a protective seal over the drawing surface to prevent the work from smudging. Fixatives can be used during the drawing process to protect each layer as you go or when a drawing is completed to create a permanent protective layer. Not all artists use fixatives as some feel they can ruin a drawing. It is really a personal preference that is always debated.
Tortillions – Tortillions are blending tools made of tightly rolled pointed paper. They are very similar in appearance to pencils. The paper can be peeled away as the surface of the tortillion becomes soiled by the drawing medium. Tortillions are used for blending purposes.