Pick another arrangement to draw. Choose a few objects that seem to require tone to make them appear as full as they are. Keep them simple, geometric shapes like fruit, plain boxes, a cup or mug, or some toy blocks. Try to pick objects that are close in color so the color won't be confusing you. Later you can pick objects that require your ability to establish true color differences using tone.
Back to the Drawing Board
You can work on line and tone simultaneously as long as you remember to keep checking and don't get bogged down adding tone to a drawing that still needs work on basic shapes or spaces.
Try Your Hand
Remember, squinting helps here, regardless of what you mother told you about making faces.
You don't have to fill in everything on a drawing; you can get more mileage by just suggesting light, tone, shadow, or volume with some tone, but retain the contrast and sparkle in your drawing. What you leave out can be just as important as what you put in.
1. Make your arrangement and composition. See your composition through your viewfinder frame. Decide on your paper and format—horizontal or vertical. Draw a proportionally equal box on your paper, with very lightly drawn center lines to help site your composition on the page.
2. Arrange a light source. Look at what it does. Try moving the light to the other side, the front, or the back, and see what the light does in each case. Decide which you prefer.
3. Site your view in space and on your paper. Don't forget the center lines, the viewfinder frame, and plastic picture plane as guides.
4. Make some beginning planning lines, then draw the simplest shapes, directions, and angles. Measure them against the sides of your viewfinder frame to see the angles. Lightly draw in the basic shapes.
5. Check yourself against your composition with the viewfinder frame and adjust. Work on seeing shapes as spaces.
Pay attention to the negative space shapes. They can help a great deal in positioning everything correctly. Check again.
6. Work on it; redraw until all of the objects are correctly placed.
7. Refine the shapes and lines to be more expressive. Look at each item in your composition and say as much about each as you can.
8. Make a tonal chart on the side of your drawing or on a separate piece of scrap paper.
9. Try to see each part of your drawing as having a tonal value, relatively speaking, from the lightest spots to the darkest ones.
10. Look at the light and shadows. Decide on a tonal range that you will use. Know which pencil will make which tone (this is where the tonal chart helps). Establish the light parts and the dark parts.
11. Draw in the shapes of the highlights and the mid-tones and the shadows. Pay particular attention to how a shadow is reshaped when it falls on another object. Add the tone to your drawing, as you see it.
12. Develop the tone on your composition from less to more, based on your tonal range chart and what you can see. Work on the drawing as a whole, not just one part at a time. Build up tones gradually.
You may see problems as you draw, some inconsistency that you missed. Don't hesitate to go back and fix it. Remember that your viewfinder frame and plastic picture plane can help you see your way through a difficult part.
Back to the Drawing Board
Sometimes, as you add a lot of detail, you have to go back and darken the darks for richer contrast, or lighten the mid-tones, or enrich the contour lines. Experience is the best guide here. Building up tone is easy; just keep at it. You can lighten a tone or area that has gotten too dark by erasing lightly. You can use the eraser as a "blotter" and pick up just a bit of tone without disturbing the line. The more you draw, the more you will develop a personal sense of style—and a sense of what suits you and the situation.
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