Keep Pencil Lines Interesting – NOT Boring

Getting a pencil drawing on the watercolor paper is very subjective. Every artist will have their own artistic means or approach of how they do it. Let me give you a few examples.

Pencil Lines:
I was at a workshop given by Artist Don Andrews. Someone asked about which pencil he uses. He laughed and said his wife buys the cheap ones by the box in the fall. He uses yellow #2 (HB) pencils. Don paints very dark and you will probably never see his line.  When choosing a pencil, you don’t want a hard (H) drawing pencil that you may feel the need to press hard because it may scratch or dents the surface of the paper. If your wish is to not see the line don’t press too hard and don’t use too soft of a pencil, like 4B or 6B. I too use the old yellow pencils or a mechanical pencil. #2 (HB) pencils smudge a bit, but when used without pressure can be erased easily with a kneaded eraser to adjust your drawings.

When I draw lines on my paper I have a few things in mind. First and foremost, “if the line or mark you draw will be seen, make it interesting”! Sketchy lines look artsy!  Let them change width and vary from light to dark. You will like the results (message from artist Ted Nuttall workshop).

One technique I am currently using is to make shorter solid type lines for hard edges. Eye lids, middle of lips etc. These lines will be covered by darker paint and will not be visible. I use light dashy lines for the borders of soft edges and similar value parts of the face. The round outside edge of the nostrils, top of the lips, soft shadows, jaw lines, top of chin, cheek highlights, glints, etc. Keep these lines to show soft edge form shadows very light on your drawing. When you initially draw them erase them back to very faint before you add paint. On the first washes use these marks to lay in some color referencing these lines. With paint now as your reference the lines are no longer needed. If you don’t need them anymore erase them when dry. Note; Graphite will soak in and become embedded into the paper. They should come up if you drew them light and with only one wash on top of them.

If you use some technique to transfer or trace your image onto your paper be very careful not to make your lines boring. Don’t let your lines get too long, too straight, or continuous. These lines are stiff and uninteresting!!! Also, try to keep your lines to a minimum. It is a painting not a drawing!

I hope you found this helpful