Drawing Methods

Pencil Drawing - Tutorials - Drawing Methods.

This is the first of the series on tutorials page on pencil drawing.

There is one item of stationery that everyone is familiar with, and that is the pencil. It can be found in every artist's studio, and is probably in every classroom, office and home. Yet, it still remains as being probably the least tested or understood art medium.

Text on practical knowledge relating to pencil drawing can be gathered from numerable sources. So it is important to shop around and find that which makes sense to you. Thereafter, experiment until you find those methods that suit your style. Ultimately, it is the effect the artist puts into his or her art that will bring about satisfaction and reward.

The object of this text is to reveal the potential of what the graphite pencil has to offer. It is a medium that can be pushed beyond the sketch to produce art that is unique and unmatched in sentiment and character.

Types of Drawings

Drawings as with any art can be categories in many ways.


The more detail and contrast there is in a drawing, the more complex the drawing methods and techniques become. Here we will be reviewing the complexity of the different types and the methods needed to create that drawing.

Line Drawings

At the lower end of the scale of complexity is the line drawing. These are drawings that outline a form or shape with a series of single lines. Furthermore, they quite often have no detail or shading. Yet despite this, and because of the lack of detail they usually require a special level of skill to create successfully.


These are usually live recording of an event, a scene or landscape, or a posed sitting. More often than not, a series of sketches is a precursor to a final drawing. The level of detail varies depending on what information the artist wishes to capture. And shading is generally limited to convey light and shadow.

Shaded Drawing

These drawings are mostly shaded with an effective tonal range and potential have a good level detail. They are by and large drawn with one or two grades of pencil on a good quality paper. Composition is important and attention must be given to good drawing methods.

Photo Quality Drawing

This is one of those cases where we have to tick all the boxes. Where the artist has to consider and test all the options available. For if they got one thing wrong it could cause some unforeseen problems. Where the only solution may well be to scrap it, and start again.

Drawing Styles

Styles in art such as realism, impressionism and abstract are no different to those in pencil drawing.

The challenge comes when colour has to be substituted with black and white. Some art styles do not lend well to this option. Consequently, the range of styles adopted by pencil artists are limited.

That said, the possibilities do exist. If an artist wishes to challenge the prospect of creating art in a curious style, it could produce some interesting, if not, amazing results.

Whenever we talk of style, the ultimate master is the artist. Be it realism, impressionism or a mix of two or more, it is the pencil artist that will determine the style. For it is the artist that is the source of creation, not a schedule of parameters that categorizes style.

So follow that what feeds your passion and create art that is fresh and unique.



Drawing Paper

The drawing paper you choose is the foundation to your pencil art.

It must be of the best quality, hard and should have a light grain, preferable an irregular grain. However, the grain of the paper is a matter of choice. Well-established makes of paper usually have a variety of grains for you to choose from.

Grades of Graphite

The graphite pencil is the cornerstone of your pencil art.

There are a variety of types and designs of pencils you can choose from. The 3 mm clutch pencil is probably the most practical. They come in a number of colours, which allows you to colour-code the various grades of graphite you will be using.

In addition to the clutch pencils you should also consider getting a few solid graphite sticks. There are two types I would recommend. The first is approximately 5mm in diameter and is sleeved in plastic. The next is a 8mm hexagonal stick with no sleeve. Both of which come in different grades.

The grades of graphite range from a hard (H) to soft (B). Preceding the H or B is a number.

The higher the number harder or softer is the graphite with the HB being the midway.

For example ranging from hard to soft the grades would read: 4H - 3H - 2H - H - HB - B - 2B - 3B etc. However, it is not necessary to use the full range of grades.

Over time I have whittled then down to 6H - 4H - 2H - H - HB - B - 2B - 4B and 6B.

"He who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions."


In addition to the pencils you choose you will need to get the following:

An appropriate sharpeners, erasers, putty rubber or 'Prestick' and one or two erasing shields. Other items of stationery you should consider adding to your shopping list are a dusting brush, T-square, straight edge, Stanley knife, and proportional dividers come in handy when doing detailed or complex studies.

Keep Clean

Keeping your pencil art clean and free from dust is very important.

Before I move onto the drawing process, it is vital that you are conscious of the importance of keeping your study clean and free of foreign matter that can stain your paper.

Here are a few tips in no particular order that you should put into practice from day one.

  • Keep your hands and stationery clean.
  • Never use your finger to blend. Unconsciously we do rub our eyes, scratch our noise and the like. It is that residue left on your hand that will leave a fatty stain on you paper and will attract dust.
  • Use a soft brush duster to remove dust and eraser flakes. Do not blow the dust away.
  • An alternate is to use an air gun from a compressor. But, be warned; if the compressor is nearby switch the compressor off after you have compressed the tank. The unexpected 'bang' as the compressor switches on automatically can be very startling.
  • Cover your work with a clean covering whenever you are not working on it.
  • Never rest your working hand on completed or partly completed work.

Start to Finish

Now that you have got you paper and variety of pencils on hand let's get started.

First tape the paper down on to the working surface and with a HB lightly map out you subject. After you have done that, tape a clean piece of paper over the lower portion of you study to protect it from getting dirty.

The reason for doing this is. Most of the work done on your pencil art will be done while holding the pencil close to the tip and your hand resting on the study. As a result your hand will unwittingly rub the paper and dirty it.

The next method is a matter of choice. The primary object of this method is to keep your study clean and free from smudges. If you are right handed you start at the top left of your study and work down in stages to the bottom right, completing each section as you go. In this way your hand never rests on completed or partly completed work.

The process would look something like these simulated time laps video of an actual drawing:

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