Exercise 10: Tonal studies
Draw four 5cm squares in your sketchbook using four drawing tools, e.g. pencil, ballpoint pen, dip pen and ink, and drawing pen (rollerball?). Try to make four distinct grades of tone using hatching (within each square). Don’t worry about the detail of the marks at this stage – half close your eyes, as this will help you eliminate most of the detail.
As simple as this exercise sounded, I found it really tricky. I’d already learned that hatching didn’t come naturally during the mark-making exercises. I started with a charcoal pencil, but found it hard to get a good dark tone with that. The fine liner, biro, and Rotring ArtPen were better, but my ‘technique’ (I hesitate to actually give it that name) is very poor as yet. I did try to achieve graduated tones, but still ended up lurching from one to another in a very unsatisfactory way. I deliberated sticking with this exercise a while longer, but was curious to see if my hatching might improve when applied to an actual subject, and so I moved on.
Then arrange four objects such as apples or other fruit, cups, or other kitchen utensils, and make a quick line drawing of them. Then use a hatching technique to add the tonal shadow patterns to your drawn objects. The tonal shadow follows the shape of the object. Tonal shades should be proportionate to the strength and position of the light and the shape of the object. Include the cast shadow in your drawing.
The four objects I chose were an apple, a pepper mill, a tea cup and an old caddy spoon. I decided to work in fine liner as I had at least been able to get four clear tones with that. I began by making a series of quick preparatory sketches of each item. Once again, my hatching left much to be desired.
Not feeling terribly confident, I decided to just get on with it. I lit the objects from the right hand side. What I discovered was that I was so intent on trying to improve the hatching, that I lost focus on form. The tea cup has a wide top, so the ellipse needed to be correspondingly large. I don’t think it was far out, but the front was slightly off. Other than that, I think most of the overall shapes weren’t too bad (apart from the top of the pepper mill, which was too broad an ellipse). The tone was the problem. I could see it reasonably well, but concentrated so hard on the hatching that I lost some of the lighter tones. Using a pen, as I was, there was no chance of recovering them, either. As I looked at the objects there were two tones of shadow under the apple, but the photograph hasn’t really captured them. The whole drawing felt very frustrating, but at least I know that I need to get far more practise at hatching.