Drawing lines, is not quite as simple, as you might think because the weight and thickness, of the lines we make, have an impact, on the effectiveness of our drawings, to add to this, is the hardness of the line, which I will explain later, is also of importance.
The meaning to thickness of line, should in essence be obvious, it means what it says, how wide or narrow, the line actually is, has an impact, on how our brain, relates to that line in context, of what is surrounding it and the tonal value of the line, also has an impact, on what is seen, when I say tonal value, I am talking about how light or dark, the line is in tone.
If you draw a circle, with a wider, darker line along the bottom area, it will look like it is, the bottom of a sphere and will start to look like, a ball shape, rather than, simply just, looking like a circle. This also gives, the bottom half of the circle or sphere more weight because the wider line, is more substantial, especially, if it is also darker in tone, it will attract the eye, giving more emphasis and importance, to it, this also creates the illusion, of light and shadow, that is often used, to emphasize, the under areas of shapes, we draw, suggesting, the shape, is three dimensional.
Please take a look, at the drawings, of the two circles, 1 & 2 below, to see an example of what I am trying to explain, also take a look at, 3 & 4, these lines and circles, have been made with a 5 mm, a half cm, flat pencil, notice how the line varies in width, giving it the look of a twisted ribbon. Number 5, shows, how lines can go, from a hard, definite edge, to a more subtle, less definite edge, that can be used to great effect, in your line drawings. These different types of line, can be used to create light and shadow, so as to suggest the illusion of form and shape but still maintaining, the quality of being a line, using this, within your line drawing, can start to bring, your line drawings, to life.
The dragon drawing below, was created with pen and ink, it puts very little emphasis on line quality, it is a line that is consistent, in thickness, giving little or no quality, other than just being a line but even so, it does create the image of a dragon, through the use of drawing lines, with nothing more.
In the process of drawing images, we often start out with a basic outline drawing, as the foundation, for learning where everything else goes, in relation to the outline and each other. The problem I find with many beginners and well practiced people alike, is they do not always, understand outlines very well, also as in the case of beginners, they do not understand at all, in many instances.
The easiest way to draw and understand outlines, is by using tracing methods of drawing because when you trace an image, you can only, realistically make an outline, as tracing doesn’t lend it’s self to shading. Tracing also gives you a better understanding, of how pictures work, especially when trying to understand, construction drawing.
Let me explain, by using a car wheel as an example, we all know that wheels are round but they are only round, when we look at them directly face on, because when we turn them, at an angle, they become, more and more oval, in shape.
The correct term to call this oval shape, is an ellipse and is something many people have problems with, when trying to draw them accurately, to find out more about this, please take look at single point perspective and two point perspective, you will find the both helpful.
Get yourself some pictures that you might like to draw and trace them, so as to be able, to take a look at these images, as only line drawings, you will notice when tracing these outlines, that they are most often, not as you might have thought they are.
Doing this, will help you to understand, that shapes are not often, the shapes we think we see and that wheels, are most often not circular but oval, along with many other shapes we see but actually, only think we see. This is because our brains tell us that wheels are round or that a shape is this shape or that shape, when in actual fact, many shapes are not what we think they are because our brains are telling us what we see, rather than actually, seeing what we see.
Hatching, cross hatching and tonal modeling basics, will help you understand shading techniques, this understanding I am going present will further enable you to develop your drawing skills, by using these simple methods.
A very basic explanation of tonal modeling is as follows.
If you draw on a piece of paper with a soft, 3B or 6B graphite pencil and make a dark line by pressing hard, then rub over the top of the pencil line, with your finger or with a piece of paper under your finger, you will see that line you made has now been smudged. Now the line that you made, will not be as well defined with the edges of it being softer and less definite or hard. This is known as a tonal modeling technique, one method of creating this tonal modeling technique is by smudging the pencil marks used for shading, to help create a more realistic three dimensional form. This is not the only way to do your tonal modeling or shading, as it can also be achieved by rubbing the pencil lightly over the paper to create a soft blended tone also.
There is also another shading method called hatching and cross hatching as well that we will explain a little later in this article.
Tonal modeling is when the pencil marks are modeled or smudged, so instead of them having hard edges, they have soft blended edges, this smudging can be done using your fingers, a paper stump, soft tissue or cotton wool. Using your fingers is not recommended because of the oils from your skin, that contain acids being left on the paper, these oils with time can cause discoloring and rotting of the paper, ruining the finished drawing, over a period of time.
When a sculptor models with clay, he creates the shape and form of the sculpture by modeling the clay with his hands, tonal modeling is when you model the pencil marks to create soft blended tones of graduated shading with a pencil, charcoal, pastel or paint, it is a process of blending tones or colors, so there is a soft graduated transition from one tone or color to another.
Tonal modeling in a drawing or painting context, is when the pencil, charcoal, pastel or paints are blended to create soft shadows, to produce the form and shape of the object, being drawn on a 2 dimensional surface creating the illusion, of a 3 dimensional form or shape.
The blending of the drawing materials, into graduated tones to create the illusion of a 3 dimensional form or shape, on a 2 dimensional drawing surface is what’s usually referred to as tonal modeling.
Below you will find an image of two pencil drawings.
1. This first image has been drawn with a 5B graphite pencil, using a hatching and cross hatching method.
2. This other second image, has been drawn with a 5B graphite pencil, using a tonal modeling method.
Both depict the shape and form of the image but the second example, is modeled, using the tonal modeling method, notice that the shadows and tones are soft, with few hard edges, unlike the first cross hatching example, with many hard edges/lines.
Essentially there are hatch marks and smudge marks, with both these types of marks having attributes, also associated with the use of charcoal, that enable you to learn to understand tonal variation better.
• Both types of marks are good and effective in their own right, as well as when used together.
• Both make excellent drawings, in their own right and when mixed.
• Both can have specific, common and preferred uses.
• Both are also used when painting.
• Both can be used effectively, with other types of drawing tools, especially the hatching marks.
Modern mark making revealed again.
Crosshatching and tonal modelling.
The above is a combination of hatching, cross hatching, line drawing and tonal modelling with only a HB pencil being used to do this.
Crosshatching and tonal modelling.
Cross hatching style drawing, of a dolls leg but although very messy looking in the detail, it is a fine example of how, even soft flowing shapes can be created with crosshatching.
Tonal modelling or blended style, with very hard edges, although you can see some of the hatching marks showing through as well.
Hatching and tonal modelling revisited.
Example of a loose tonal modelling or blending style drawing, of a face that is really somewhere between, hatching and tonal modelling because of the even marks, slanting downward to the right.
A Yorkshire terrier dog, which happily lends it’s self well to this loose but flowing hatching technique, which is highly appropriate for drawing fur or hair, as can be seen a little in image 3 as well.
A soft blending of tones creates this portrait, this is mostly achieved by smudging the graphite pencil marks, with a paper torchon or drawing stump, this is just a hard paper pencil type tool, that can be used to smudge the pencil marks.
Although some like to call this a squiggle or squrkle technique, it is actually just another form of cross hatching, this image has been drawn with a permanent ink pen.
I took the charcoal drawing of a 1967, Austin Healey, 3000 Mk III, sports car and super imposed it into another image of a thumb and finger, using GIMP photo editing software, I fused them together to compose the image below, about understanding perspectives and using mark making, as a visual dynamic for tricking the eye.
In the drawing above you will see two different pencil techniques, one is called hatching and the other is called tonal modeling, both are used often, as drawing techniques for different reasons mostly. The hatching or also called cross hatching technique, is often used to draw subjects, that lend themselves to that type of mark making, like hair, grass and other textures, that can be described with lots of little lines or dashes going all in one direction or differing directions, and is a natural way to use a pencil.
The other technique is tonal modeling, which is where the pencil is smudged or modeled using graded tones, to create soft edges and shadows, most often seen in the drawing of skin tone, and clouds but in the drawing above, you will notice that both are being used in the same drawing.
The finger and thumb of the hand is drawn using hatching and cross hatching, whereas the back of the hand is drawn using a tonal modeling technique. The example is used to show how these techniques, can be used in this way and although they lend themselves to best describe textures that have been mentioned, they can also be used effectively to describe textures, that would not really lend themselves to these techniques, like with the finger and thumb.
This is also an example of how you can take already existing drawings and with photo editing software, fuse them together as a means of generating new ideas, bringing very different tools together to aid the creative process.
The image below, is almost completely created using tonal modeling and is a example of use, where it would accurately describe the fleshy textures of the baby’s skin tones, as well as, the bone textures of the skull, with the only hatching type marks, being around the word zeitgeist, which are again smudged pencil lines, with slightly modeled edges, that are not sharp or well defined. Mark making is also found in painting as well as drawing and is an important part of all kinds of art, where sometimes they are not lines, dashes or modeled areas but can be splashes, scribbles or pointillist type marks.
A hand and the artificial creations, born from its great ability, to manipulate the world around it, isn’t all intelligence artificial because we only think we know, when we recognize the mark making?