Project Six – Exercise 3: Tonal Study – Rework

This is the reworked exercise from part two – project 6 – exercise 3

From my tutor’s feedback that I received on this exercise related to contrast and working more reductively, I decided to rework this interior scene. As the scene as such changed a bit, I worked from my initial drawing and sketchbook studies (I did not make a photo at that time from the scene). I am glad again to have my own reference to build on for the new drawing.

I took my tutor’s insight on choosing right paper for a selected medium. I went for a rougher pastel paper (65x50cm). I choose a yellow paper tone as I wanted to fully emphasize this time on the skylight and the bright light shining into the small room.

I did the whole drawing on the floor, horizontal, sitting and kneeling. I haven’t done this so much in the past but I decided for that position as it helped me to get very close to each part of the drawing at this scale and to have more space around the paper. To do it on table (sitting) is a more distortive experience as I can not reach each part of the drawing as easily. To do it at a wall is a No-Go, as the charcoal dust would just flow down and mess up the light parts of the drawing.

Stefan513593 - project 6 - exercise 3 - rework

Stefan513593 – project 6 – exercise 3 – rework

I mapped out the main areas with loose strokes of the broad side of the charcoal stick. Most of the mid-tone and lighter parts are mainly done in reductive drawing and shaping with a putty rubber, a plastic rubber and at some places with a mechanical eraser. The latter one is hard to control due to its own motion. I tried to get as much black charcoal on the black areas of the paper as possible. At the end each finger tap was visible and charcoal dust was sitting on the surface. So I had to be careful not to mess up the lighter parts. When I put the limit of charcoal onto the surface I was still not happy with the very dark tone. So I put fixative on the drawing and continued. By that I could work much deeper in tone.


  • It is at times good to rework a study. It helped me to refocus and forced me to put more efforts into the key  idea of a drawing. All are good learnings to me.
  • Working flat on the floor helped me to get more engaged with the drawing with some variations in distance and not compromising the volatile charcoal drawing.
  • Trying to work with willow and compressed charcoal together to achieve deep black gives different tone. Compressed charcoal is cooler, willow warmer.
  • There is a limit on how much charcoal I can put on the support. Putting fixative inbetween layers of charcoal helps to get deeper blacks.
  • Working reductively is great for tone drawings. This avoids a mistake to work too much in line. ‘Carving’ out the shapes from a charcoal layer feels better related to creating of atmosphere.
  • Working with sharp edges (with plastic rubber or eraser) and softer edges (with putty rubber, more flat) gives different ways to create form perception and contrast.
  • Choosing a yellow paper supports the atmospheric appeal of light glow.
  • Choosing a stronger support is very helpful to work harder with plastic rubber into the surface.
  • Working with a mechanical eraser is good for thinner marks that should be very light. But it is hard to control due to its own motion. So only to be used for a few selective marks.

Next time:
– Trying to work with compressed charcoal only, to avoid the mix of two charcoal variants with different color values and to see if I can get deeper blacks.
– Understanding reductive drawing better on different supports. Also to see whether I can work in similar way with other materials.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: