The subject of this demonstration is relatively simple, but it does include different kinds of textures—wood, stone, shingle, trees, and grass. These surfaces were all rendered in a different manner.
In the first drawing the artist made the values exactly as he saw them. There are light trees in the background, and dark dirt and grass in the foreground. A strong light from the right strikes the front of the barn. This isn't good, since the dark side of the barn and the foreground all run together and the light side of the barn and background do the same. In the middle drawing, he made the background trees the darkest value. To separate the dark side of the barn and the foreground, he changed the light so it comes from the left.
This still isn't appealing because the light side of the barn is flat and uninteresting, yet it has become the focal point of the drawing. In the final sketch the artist kept the background trees dark, since this creates a good sharp silhouette of the barn. He preferred the light coming from the right, the way it actually appeared. He kept the middle tones in the shadow side of the barn and under the eaves in the front, and the light values in the foreground. This creates a nice simple pattern of lights, middle tones, and darks.
In these studies, the artist was concerned with working out the basic shape of the vignette. His first thought was to square off the top and left side of the barn, since it faces right and the light is coming from that direction. Because the barn has many square corners, he thought it would be more interesting if there was a softer vignette around it, so he drew another one.
The shape of the second vignette has too much of an overall solid feel because the artist didn't use any white areas to break it up. The left side of the barn awkwardly converges with the background, and the foreground is Hat and dull-looking. He did another drawing.
The final vignette is much more successful. The outside shape has a definite feeling of space and dimension and there are some interesting minor silhouettes created by the fences against the white area. The path in the foreground leads your eye directly to the center of interest.
With the values established and the vignette achieved, the artist was now ready to start the drawing.
1. The artist did the initial drawing with a 4H pencil. He included only the important lines of the barn—he did not draw every board, stone, etc. He was concerned only with the proper proportions, placement on the paper, and perspective.
2. He established the darkest tones first, using an HB pencil. Then he made the trees behind the barn one value darker with a 2B pencil. There is a basic reason for starting with the darkest areas. The light area is pretty well established. You cannot go much lighter than the white paper or possibly one value lower with a 6H pencil. The two unknown values that were established later were the middle and dark tones. When he laid-in the darkest first, he immediately established how dark he was able to go with the middle tones. The middle tones are always the critical areas. If they are too dark, the drawing will become too low-key, and if they are too light, the drawing will look washed out.
3. Once the darks were established, the artist put in all the middle tone areas. Since the boards on the side of the barn were vertical, he drew all his strokes the same way with a 2H pencil, varying the direction occasionally to add interest. The stone area (left), the fence, and the beginning of the grass were added with a 4H pencil. With an HB pencil, he darkened the shadow from the overhang on the front of the barn. He added details only after he was satisfied with all of the value areas.
4. After all the values were laid-in and the vignette established, the artist began working on the detail and the texture. He drew some of the boards on the shadow side of the barn with an HB pencil. To add interest, he indicated some of the boards missing. The artist felt that this was a case where he needed to exercise a little artistic license. Even though there were no boards missing, he felt that the barn would look too boring if he left the sides as they were.
With a 6H pencil the artist indicated the right edge of the barn, and he used a 2H pencil to add the missing boards.
Notice that the details in this area were left to a minimum. If he had indicated too much detail, it would have cut the value down and reduced the effect of the light on the front side. Finally, with a 6H pencil the artist indicated the roof, hills, and trees in the distance, and he finished the grass in the foreground. He then placed the drawing in a mat and moved away from it to see if the values held together from a distance. With all the visualizing, preparation, and planning, he completed the drawing in approximately one hour.
A. The side of the barn was drawn quickly with a 2H pencil using vertical strokes and varying the amount of pressure. This gives a slight tonal change that occurs in barn siding. The artist did not go from the top to the bottom in one stroke. He changed the length and direction of lines, again giving more interest to the area. After he put in the divisions of the stones with an HB pencil, he darkened an occasional stone with a 2H pencil.
B. The trees in the background were indicated with very short strokes going in all directions. He covered the entire tree area with an HB pencil, and again, using very short strokes, he used a 2B pencil to draw the darker trees next to the roof of the barn. Notice how the value relationships are quickly established with the dark areas against the white paper.
C. The fence was indicated with a 4H pencil. The strokes are vertical, but note how the direction is slightly varied. The artist left the fence white in front of the dark area of the barn. With a 4H pencil, he drew the grass with short strokes going in all directions.
Observe how the fence is not outlined. The entire fence is held together by tones. On the right, the fence is indicated, and on the left the dark background constructs the fence. This is important: Do not outline objects and then fill them in with a tone—that will make your work look amateurish.
Creating a Dark Value
Creating a Dark Value
The flat rendering (right) of the "Lobster Shacks" drawing shows how Ferdinand Petrie planned his values with three pencils. The darkest value was drawn with a 4B pencil, the dark middle tone with a 2H pencil, and the light value with a 6H pencil. Try to visualize all your drawings in as simple a statement as this diagram. Notice also how he planned the vignette with white areas coming into the drawing.
In the finished picture the artist showed how dark values can lead your eye through a picture. The dark rocks in the foreground lead the viewer's eye into the cast shadow on the wall, then through the cenler shack, and finally into the dark tree. All other values and the vignetting lead to this central pattern of darks.
Was this article helpful?