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Drawing: Selecting your material

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When sketching from life, there's no point in loading yourself down with rags, erasers and fixatives: You need to take along the min-i-mum!

1. Select a solid, portable support

For obvious reasons of organization, it is preferable to avoid working on loose leaf paper (because it can get lost or damaged). Your most practical tool is a sketch pad. 

 

How do you select it?

Select a pad with a hard back. This provides you with support.

- Spiral pads are practical because the sheets are independent of each other.

- As for format, go for simplicity. A4 or A5 sizes provide you with a very comfortable drawing surface and are not very cumbersome. As for volume, go light... a hundred sheets are quite enough.

- Sketch paper is usually bulked, that is, both light and thick. It is perfectly suited to graphite, pastel, charcoal and sanguine drawing.

However, if you work with a felt-tip or marker, select a pad of smooth, water and ink resistant, paper (layout paper).

 

How do you use it?
 

  • When you work on a subject from various angles, do all your rough sketches on the same page. This way, you can keep an overview.
     
  • Try turning your pad to be more comfortable. Draw in all directions.
     
  • Only draw on the front of the paper. Transparency could play tricks on you...

Memo: paper with bulk!

Connoisseurs tell us that sketch pads usually come with bulked paper. What are its qualities? It is both light and thick. It is a fairly rough paper, ideal for quick sketches and studies.

2. Selecting the right medium

Any pencil or ballpoint will do. But some media have significant advantages:
 

  • Graphite pencils, preferably very soft ones (7B or 8B), make it possible to add both light lines and dark contours.
     
  • Graphite lead or charcoal: alternate between a lead tip for contours, and a lead edge, for areas to be shaded. Another advantage with charcoal: you can make corrections fast. All you have to do is run your finger over the line to fade it.
     
  • A few color pencils or markers can be very useful for quick color references.