Watercolor Pencil Lines

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.

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. He paints very dark and you will probably never see his line.  When choosing a pencil, you don’t want a hard drawing pencil so that it scratches or dents the surface of the paper. If your wish is to not see the line don’t use too soft of a pencil, like 4B or 6B. I use the old yellow pencils or a mechanical pencil.

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

One technique I am currently using is to make shorter solid type lines for hard edges. Eye lids, lips etc. These lines will be covered by darker paint and will not be easily visible. I use light dashy lines for the borders of soft edges. Nostrils, soft shadows, jaw lines, cheek highlights, glints, etc.

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.

My current style of painting is to use transparent paints and I don’t necessarily want to see lines in my portraits.

I will use soft light lines to guide me in my first washes and then the light marks could be easily erased. If you wait too long the lines cannot be fully erased. Think about it, the pencil lines will be under layers of paint. Also the graphite soaks in and becomes embedded into the paper.

I hope you found this helpful

Bill