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Learning Event 1: DEFINE MEDIA

1. Media are the materials used to make an image. Once you understand the systematic approach, you must be aware of the various media available enabling you to create an image. You must also develop the skills to use those tools. Media (singular medium) have two main groups: line media and tone media.

a. Line media includes the materials which produce a black and white image, such as ink on paper. Line media uses no greys or tones. Use line media to make reproducible or camera-ready art. Some line media are pen and ink, brush and ink, and black magic markers. You can create a variety of effects using pen or brush and ink. Use this media to make line art for reproduction.

There are two types of ink: writing ink and drawing ink. Writing ink is relatively thin and transparent whereas drawing ink is much more opaque. Drawing ink is a must for illustrations or they may show streaks or spots.

Realistic Drawing Ink

Figure 3-1. Tone chart


Figure 3-1. Tone chart b. Tone media comprises any materials used to produce an image containing black, white, and intermediate shades of grey (fig 3-1). Tone media also includes color media. Tone media are classified as dry, wash, and opaque media.

(1) Dry media is any media which leaves a granular deposit on the drawing surface. Dry media includes pencil, chalk, charcoal, or pastel. Dry media is the most popular drawing media because of its ease of use and correctability. Also, it is easy to achieve gradual tonal changes by appropriate pressure, smudging, or blending (figs 3-2A and 3-2B). It is used extensively for portraiture, where the same general principles of drawing apply. Practice will help you master the subtleties of the craft.

(2) Wash media is any media which is fluid and transparent, e.g., inks and watercolors. The term "wash" refers to the appearance of the media on the surface the artist is working, not necessarily to a particular medium.

(a) Wash usually refers to thinned ink or watercolor. The more fluid the medium, the more transparent it will be (fig 3-3).

(b) When making a wash, use only the appropriate thinners and grounds.

(3) Opaque media is media which is fluid but NOT transparent. Underlying layers are not visible. The term "opaque" means "blocking out." One cannot see through it.

(a) Medium opaqueness is determined by the pigment content. The more pigment in the medium, the more opaque it will be. Examples of opaque paints are tempera, gouache, and acrylic.

(b) Though acrylic paints are classified as an opaque medium, they may need more than one coat to achieve the opaque effect.

2. Media have differing characteristics and uses due to their element makeup. Those elements are pigment, binder, and vehicle (sometimes called carrier).

a. Pigment is the colored matter which produces the image from the medium. Pigments can be either man-made or a product of nature. Ground pigment is added to the other elements for use.

b. Binder is the glue that holds the elements together. Some binders hold the elements together in sticks (chalk, crayon, pastels), others hold the medium to the image surface.

c. Vehicle (sometimes called the carrier) is the liquid which suspends the pigments and binders.

3. Mixed media is the combination of more than one media in an illustration. Some pleasing combinations are watercolors, tempera paints, or acrylics, with ink contours.


1. Techniques are the way you use or apply various media to the drawing surface. This application creates illusions of edges, depth, movement, and texture.

2. Line techniques create the illusion of tones and shading with black and white only. Line techniques effectively use lines, dots, or circles to create the illusion of tone (fig 3-4).

a. Single line technique creates the illusion of value variations through line weight, the number of lines, and their proximity. Single line weight is uniform throughout its length. You can achieve the total range of values using pencil, pen and ink, or brush and ink. Apply single line in one of four methods: mechanical, freehand, form following, and diagonal or repeating pattern (figs 3-5 through 3-8).

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