Draw with me … adding shadow, colour and highlights to floral motifs | 24 Nov ’21

Oh, I had a lot of fun bringing the simple line drawings from yesterday to life with shadow, colour and highlight. Here’s the link to today’s video if you’d like to try this along with me.

The humble 2B and 6B graphite pencils (the Pitt Graphite Matt versions) were used to create the shadows, the illusion of folds and curls, curves and edges. It took me a while to remember how to do this, to work out the effects I wanted to create. This is, however, like riding a bike – once learned you may be rusty, but you never forget!

There is a simple pleasure in using just the grey of graphite to give more form to these designs. Adding colour over the graphite added to this. I really am enjoying the way the careful shadowing with graphite works with transparent watercolour. Then, there’s the use of white charcoal and/or white ink to bring out the highlights.

If I use ink, I much prefer to use dots white, rather than a solid line or shape. I enjoy the subtle texture it gives as well as that brightness too. I find the white charcoal tends to bleach the colour out way too much, it feels not quite right. I will eventually work out how to do this in a better manner I think. Perhaps trying other colours of chalk pastel pencils maybe, or really making sure that the colour is barely there in the highlights. It’s a work in progress for me, that’s for sure! I may just stick to white ink dots, perhaps trying other colours that work with the colour of the motif.

Using various grades of graphite helps me to get that intensity of shadow that I like, without struggling with watercolour. I can vary the intensity of one colour (and I even tried two colours in one motif!), and let the graphite do the work of darkening the shade of colour.

The metallic looking result I find quite pleasing, now that it’s becoming familiar to me. I find I like the effect far more than adding graphite on top of the colour. The pigments in the watercolour pencil seem to sit over the graphite when they’re activated with water, tinting the graphite in a way that is pleasing to me.

I do love the Graphitint pencils very much, but this method gives me a way of getting more vibrant colours, which are pleasingly toned down by the under-shadowing of graphite.

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