Pen Techniques

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Let's concentrate on pen now, to take your skills to another level. You can sketch with a pen using a technique similar to the one employed with pencil. Begin by observing the contours of objects, both inside and out. Then, when you commit those contours to line, break them up naturally and spontaneously.

Pen values are created through three basic techniques:

• hatching: making a series of closely set parallel lines;

• crosshatching: making sets of close, parallel lines crossed over one another, usually at right angles, either casually or in a more controlled way;

• stippling: making a group of small dots, dabs, or other tiny marks to produce a dappled effect.

Let's do some exercises to get a feeling for these useful techniques.

"I would force myself to just jump in, follow the lines, and keep going—not let myself look at it until the end. That somehow helped me to get over my fear of not being able to draw realistically."

-studenttracey m. robinson exercise: pen sampler

Pen values are created by reducing or expanding the spaces between marks. The closer the marks, the darker the values. Although pressure can produce somewhat darker marks, reducing the space between them is the key.

1 Working on your 14"-x-17" pad, begin by testing both your micro and fine pen nibs with scribbles to see their different value ranges.

2 Fill the bottom of your page with some flowing, squiggly, angular, ribbony strokes, anything you can think of to fill space in spontaneous ways. Make little marks or long, continuous lines that look like imaginary handwriting-whatever comes out.

3 Make a scribble with each pen, starting with very close, very tight coils, then make them looser, farther apart at the end. Your values will move from dark to lighter in tone.

4 Draw three squares. Fill the first with vertical strokes, leaving obvious spaces among them. Make strokes closer together each time. As spaces contract, you need more strokes to fill the same size square, and the squares get darker. Make lots of these. Play with this until it feels quick and automatic.

5 Do the same with horizontal strokes.To get into the repetition, do it quickly. And listen to the sound your pen makes. There's a real rhythm to it. You can hear the number of strokes and the speed increase together. Faster, closer strokes often seem easiest.

6 Overlap vertical and horizontal lines, keeping the space between them approximately the same. Add a row of diagonals.

7 Make a square as dark as you can with lots of fast, close strokes. Use diagonals as well.

8 Outline two small squares and fill them with small marks. Use dots for the first, then any marks you want for the second. As noted earlier, stippling is a way to create values out of small dots, but you can also make up your own tiny marks to create a dappled pattern. The amount of space between marks creates value changes. Try making the corner of each square a darker value.

9 Make a coil, rhythmically and quickly done, and let it spiral into an increasingly narrow coil, like a tornado. Build up your energy with a quick practice coil gestured above the paper before you begin. Make lots of them!

10 "Mole holes" is the nickname used in my classroom for marks that are almost semicircles. They also look a bit like croquet wickets. Do them rapidly, automatic-pilot style. Listen for the sound of the quick marks. Don't over-control. You begin to feel the centrifugal pull as your hand whips around the shape and comes to a stop.

11 Notice the small value hatches along tornadoes and mole-hole shapes. They reflect the same curvature as the associated larger shape, but are not as wide. You'll apply these small hatches in a column down each side of the larger shapes, starting each hatch on the outside of the larger shape and moving toward the middle. Then make a narrower column on top of that. You can add one small column at the edges to increase dimensionality more. Figure out where you're going, then put your hand on automatic pilot and start in. A rapid approach works better than a slow one.

PEN SAMPLER. Refer to these marks in constructing your own "Pen Sampler," as described in the exercise that begins on the opposite page.

"Pen was really fun. The only thing is,jou can't erase. But I think that's a good learning exercise, because it makes me take ny time a little more. "

-student jamie k.eever

Potential subject matter for pen drawings is all around us. Select what catches your eye. student drawings, from top clockwise, by mary jo fusaro (plant, bottle), michelle g. cappellieri (pulley), and anne osso porco (spray valves, mortar and pestle, tool)

STRATEGIES FOR DRAWING WITH PEN

• Don't strive for perfection in each stroke. It's the overall accumulation that counts. Have fun and let 'er rip!

• Have your pen strokes mimic the shape of the object, just as you did with pencil. Let your pen move in more than one direction. Crossing over your strokes in another direction helps create a three-dimensional effect. If a cylinder is both round and tall, use strokes in both directions.

• Make crosshatching quickly. Don't pull marks with your whole arm; let your hand and fingers do the work.

Tricia Vanacore

As you probably noticed from the examples shown on earlier pages, shoes have been a popular subject in my classrooms, for both pencil and pen drawings, student drawings, from top clockwise, by jane wolansky (sneaker), tricia vanacore (skate), pamela mcfeely (slingback), and m. e. olson (sandal)

Tricia Vanacore
"I thought about things I would do when I got the time. At the top of my wish list was learning to draw. It was time to move to something that gave some space to the soul." —student al roberts

exercise: rounded/ irregular shapes sampler

What about hatching rounded or irregular shapes? The technique is similar to the loose movements used in sketching. Work on a sheet from your smaller drawing pad, using both pens for this two-step exercise.

1 Make a small, freeform shape. Fill it with dashes that mimic the contour shape, as though your strokes described streams of water, flowing over rock.

2 Make a similar shape. Fill it in again, but this time, make one side of the shape darker than the other by filling in the spaces between marks. See if you can make a clear value transition by gradually decreasing white spaces.

These two drawings match subject matter effectively with the contrasting qualities inherent in pencil and wash, and the more assertive nature of pen and wash. drawings by student anne osso porco

These two drawings match subject matter effectively with the contrasting qualities inherent in pencil and wash, and the more assertive nature of pen and wash. drawings by student anne osso porco

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Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

Easy Step-By-Step Lessons How Would You Like To Teach Yourself Some Of The Powerful Basic Techniques Of Pencil Drawing With Our Step-by-Step Tutorial. Learn the ABC of Pencil Drawing From the Experts.

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