Project Three – Exercise 3: Detail and tone

With this exercise I will create an interesting and appealing drawing with a range of tonal values made with coloured pencils. I understand that the key elements for this exercise are: variety of marks and contrast. I selected a red cabbage with its stem, cut off, from our garden – with amazing texture patterns and contrast in texture.

With some preliminary sketchbook studies to warm-up and to understand better how to make what kind of markings as well as some compositional ideas framing within the rectangular format of the paper. I tried to understand how to create highlights, was not that easy as coloured pencils are not so easy to erase compared with lead pencils. However I found that my oil based pencils (Polychromos) can be erased with putty rubber to some extent, what made be feel quite happy. It astonished me that it was easier to erase on a smooth surface that on a rougher surface (as my sketchbook papers)

Stefan513593 - project 3 - exercise 3

Stefan513593 – project 3 – exercise 3 – A3

 Sequence of work:
– Blocking in the main shapes with light pencil
– Hatching the shadow areas with fine marks
– Working in parallel on positive and negative space
– Keeping the major light areas blank till later
– On very dark areas (e.g. the receding cabbage leaf) I use putty rubber between my pencil markings to shape lighter areas
– More delicate markings with continuous line for the texture pattern of the cabbage
– Finer hatched marks for overall toning across shapes (e.g. cabbage, the centre area of the cut-off)
– Broad strokes at the end for finishing and expression (e.g. stem, upper background area)
– Using putty rubber for highlight areas (e.g. stem and cut-off area
– Using turpentine wash in background space
– Framing the composition with simple free lines (rectangle within rectangular format)

Closeup views on variety of markings:

Stefan513593 - project 3 - Exercise 3 - closeups

Stefan513593 – project 3 – Exercise 3 – closeups

Using of variety of marks:
I used the tip as well as the side of my pencils depending on the purpose of my marks
– Finer hatching with multiple layers for toning (e.g. receding cabbage leaf)
– Broad expressive strokes (e.g. stem – I wanted here a rougher touch compared to the cabbage leafs) and for finishing marks (e.g. receding cabbage leaf)
– Continuous line for the exciting texture pattern of the cabbage
– Finishing hatching for overall tonal value
– ‘Fuzzy’ expressive marks for background (made with broad strokes and wash)
– Free lines marking the composition frame
– Marks following the contour of the object (e.g. left side of the front cabbage)

To achieve a certain depth as well as for shadow areas I applied multiple layers of strokes, hatched marks, and deepening with black. I placed highlight and light areas (e.g. stem, cut-off area) close to the darkest areas for steep contrast. During the process I checked several times whether the dark/light patterns and shapes reflect the observed object.

Sketchbook studies:

Stefan513593 - project 3 - exercise 3 - sketchbook studies

Stefan513593 – project 3 – exercise 3 – sketchbook studies



At the beginning I had some troubles with getting along with my colored pencils. I guess I worked a bit too much on the receding cabbage leaf, somehow trying to get tonal value and color right. After keeping a certain distance to my paper in front of me and applying some more loose marks ( e.g. stem) I became more relaxed and enjoyed more the drawing process. With this experience I also applied broader strokes towards the end at other areas. I feel the combination of finer hatching for tonal value and broad more expressive strokes make my drawing more interesting and appealing. I felt more intimate. I really enjoyed working on this exercise as it also helped me to answer my question from previous exercise on accuracy versus expression.  

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