Project Six – Exercise 3: Tonal study

I have reworked this exercise after receiving valuable feedback from my tutor on my assignment 2: see here

For this tonal study I decided as mentioned in the previous exercise to go for the view into the ironing room with light is shining through the single window. I selected a vertical large format (70x50cm) for the more dramatic appeal. My chosen material was charcoal due to its flexibility in achieving quite a range of tonal variations and line drawing capabilities. I used compressed charcoal for the finer and line markings and willow charcoal for wider areas and broader tonal differentiation. The staggered clothes waiting to be ironed alongside the different shapes and textures give an appealing and intimate composition.

I started to double-check with a viewfinder my composition. In order to draw I had to sit and halfway kneel on the floor with my paper clamped to a support. My putty rubber always at hand for achieving tonal variations and keeping highlight areas intact during the drawing process.

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 3

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 3

I blocked in the main shadow areas and shapes, focusing on the negative space, and indicating key elements and shapes in the positive space. With further deeping of the tonal values I was careful to keep the light areas open till I got a better visual understanding of the visible contrasts. I kept the rendering of finer details of the objects till later in the process. I worked back and force with charcoal and rubber to ‘free up’ highlights and to fine-tune the subtle tonal variations on the floor and the walls. I indicated with quick strokes in charcoal and with the rubber the sky shining through the window. Towards the end I checked again the geometry perception and tonal values especially on the oblique wall. I’ve seen that I kept it initially to light and with a bit of awkward geometry perception, so I gradually made it darker and more correct in relationship to the other tonal values in the picture.

Work in progress:

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 3  - work in progress

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 3 – work in progress



  • Did I apply correct tonal values?
    After regular checking during the process and at the end (even one day later) I think I captured the key light/dark areas and tonal values correct. Actually this is an image with a wide range of light and dark tonal values that a camera can take it right. Drawing makes it possible.
  • Is there enough contrast?
    As already observed during the previous exercises I applied bold contrasts with dark blacks and light (paper white shining through e.g. floor and left side of window). I used stronger marks for cast shadows areas (e.g. clothes, suitcases) to indicate better depth and form perception.

Overall I am quite pleased with the final drawing and the process how I got there. At the beginning (exercise 1) the staggered clothes were quite a challenge for me, but more focus on the negative space helped m to get along.

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