View Full Version : how do you guys hold your drawing tool
October 10th, 2003, 11:16 PM
I went to my first art student's league class in anatomy with life drawing with Frank Porcu. After drawing for a while he explained to me and this guy next to me that the writing method of holding the pencil is incorrect for drawing. He showed us a method that uses the shoulder rather than the wrist. Is this grip good for all types of drawings or for just large scale? Its hard for me to imagine doing details or technical work with this grip. Feedback please
October 10th, 2003, 11:34 PM
Yeah I got told that by Costa V. I just use that to set up the big lines and get the gesture. I find it hard to control for short distances but its great for making straight lines and arcs. I think its to wean you off the finicky sort of line making that you do when you hold the pencil like youre gonna write with it. The two instructors I have use just the side and long arcs to create whatever they do. I guess it just takes practice. Sharpen up your pencil too so you have a nice long nose to it. It makes it easier to put in tone.
October 10th, 2003, 11:39 PM
hehe yea he constantly sharpened the pencil he was using to show me. it looks like a great technique for charcoal. I guess I have to just practice and do the excercise he reccomended
October 10th, 2003, 11:48 PM
eh what excercise is that? I could do with some practice too.
October 11th, 2003, 12:27 AM
the method in which your both discussing is how most draughtsmen today do drawings. Its how tonal drawings are done. The charcoal pencil or whatever pencil is sharpened to to a tapered point, and it allows you to get a multitude of line weights. You can get a variation in line with a normal pencil. Plus your wrist doesn't have the range of motion your shoulder does and you can't fill in large masses of tone that way. But by drawing from your shoulder this is much easier. And yeah you can get into fine details this way too. It just takes practice to build up your dexterity with the pencil. Tonal drawing is like painting in charcoal, and all the masters like sargent and sorolla and so on drew this way. Go and look and kevin chens stuff or fredflickstones charcoal drawings on these forums. Those drawings are done this way, from the shoulder, with the kind of tapered pencil I mentioned. A good way to practice is to just draw ovals and pull lines in multiple directions and see what kind a line variation you can create. Anyway hope this clears up some stuff.
October 11th, 2003, 06:28 AM
the ovals were very similar to what he reccomended us to do. He told me to draw a circle and then draw circles that go around its form like a ball of yarn. He varied it by creating objects with the circle and making some of the lines parallel to create thickness of lines. He said do it 10 - 50 times a day for a few weeks and you'll get it down ;)
October 11th, 2003, 01:00 PM
can anybody post a pic of this method
October 11th, 2003, 06:38 PM
Wow I practiced it for a day and used it for another class at ASL and I can do things I couldn't do before.. like draw faces somewhat accurately. The method is really simple, just draw a circle and then imagine it in 3d as a sphere. Draw the lines that go around that sphere. And repeatedly add lines until you can't tell where your drawing ;). I would post an example but I can only do perfect circles for now
October 11th, 2003, 10:49 PM
This is the best method ever. I use it in my sketchbook at times. It does take practice, and a lot of messing with, but it helps so much. An easy way to describe the "hold" would be a toothbrush. Hold it like you brush your teeth, and let your knuckles glide across the page in smooth long strokes. I also practice doing curves and such before every life drawing session. It helps a lot. IF you guys have never heard of Conte pencils, they are the tool to use for fig drawing (imo). Kevin Chen uses them, and so do many people. If you can get em, they are called CONTE pencils, A Paris France 1710 and I suggest 2B. They last longer. Make sure its 1710 though, cuz if they aren't then its like you're using a totally different pencil.
hope I helped!:)
October 12th, 2003, 04:52 AM
oh thx for the information about the technique, people! and thx for the info of the conte pencil, i.was.ink! really helpful!
October 12th, 2003, 11:40 AM
thanks for the info guys
thanks iwasink, I couldn't remember how to hold a toothbrush, so I just brushed my teeth and now I remember ;)
October 18th, 2003, 04:02 AM
Thats how you do it... I swear ! lol also use your pinky as an anchor when applying the lines so you dont smear the charcoal.
my hand looks fat in that picture... i guess its true what they say about the camera adding weight.
October 18th, 2003, 04:04 AM
Conte pencils are the best thing since Ritmos ... maybe i should have taken the picture with that instead of the Wolffs Carbon. hmmmm... :P Go with the 1710, i suggest the B so you can stay lighter if your heavy handed.
October 18th, 2003, 11:36 AM
I picked up some of those conte 1710's and they dont erase to well. I like the glidy feel of them though.
October 18th, 2003, 12:41 PM
thats exactly how dns2k, but I don't care about my knuckles getting dirty, I actually like it.:D
winjer: You're not supposed to erase them. That's the point. With life drawing you want to get so good that when you put a line down, it stays.
I can post some of those stroke exercises I do before each session, if anyone's interested.
October 18th, 2003, 02:29 PM
dont go too dark causing the suface to score or it wil be a pain to get out. Use light lines, and gradually build up to your darks.
October 19th, 2003, 12:21 AM
Well I'm not good enough to where i don't have to erase, so i do. If you do use the b's do stay light. If your heavy handed, the charcoal will more than likely not come out. Try the hb's instead and work your way up. But the wolffs carbon pencil is also a good alternative too.
October 30th, 2003, 08:22 PM
For fun, I recently tried using my tablet stylus this way (holding it in the palm, rather than over the thumb.) The main problem was getting my tablet at a slant, but it is more relaxing. I've always drawn on large surfaces with the pencil (or whatever) in my palm, but never tried to do it with a tablet. Tablets are apparantly designed to be laid flat, and the working surface is a bit small for drawing this way.
October 30th, 2003, 11:13 PM
tablets are meant for the writing style of drawing. the point of drawing this way is to do it with your arm instead of just your wrist. This improves your dexterity over time and then drawing the other way is easier when you are forced to.
November 2nd, 2003, 11:28 PM
inky, the 1710 contÚs are the "pierre noir" ones, right?
i picked up one of them some time ago. they're really great to work with, although the b one i bought needs too much pressure to leave that wonderful deep black they make. need to get my hands on a 2b, it seems :)
i'd be interested in those stroke exercises btw.
i plan to go larger in format (larger than my a4 sketchbook :) )so these exercises could help getting over the inevitable clumsiness i have when working large scale.
November 3rd, 2003, 06:37 PM
hmmmm.....so who here votes I post some of those exercises? Not that Im a pro at em or nothin, but I can show you guys what I do...
If anyone's interested!?...
November 3rd, 2003, 07:25 PM
November 4th, 2003, 12:33 PM
just post em :) those who are not interested don't need to look at them :)
November 4th, 2003, 04:12 PM
Please post 'em, ink! I need more practice w/ this holding method.
Btw, I've got about 1-1.5" lead per your notes ink, but I keep breaking the point and have to start all over. I keep distracting the other students by screaming "dammit!" because this happens to me a lot. I guess I'm using too much pressure, but how do people get such contrast using 2B conte pencils (which is what I'm using)?
November 4th, 2003, 06:59 PM
November 6th, 2003, 04:01 PM
Some people had asked for my stroke exercises when life drawing. So basically, I do these on an individual sheet of smooth newsprint paper. They help keep me loose and think about lineweight, rhythym(sp?) they get my arm ready for drawing. They are all done with the same pencil too. Also something that might help is to hold your pencil farther back, so you dont get to dark too fast.
How I hold the pencil
Just in case you guys want to check out how I draw the figure check out my Art Center thread (http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=97638#post97638)
Let me know if you got any questions. :)
November 6th, 2003, 07:58 PM
thanks inky :)
damn, i cant tell you how confused i was about how lighthanded you must be when you mentioned somewhere how much of the pencil lead you cut free for drawing. now that i know you use those contes, its all clear :)
i bet you can stab someone with the tip of even that 2b one.
i think i will try that in every case. it cant do more than help.
now i just need a place to hang my newsprint sheets for drawing :(
November 7th, 2003, 12:24 AM
Gekitsu I use a masonite board with clips on top. You can go buy one, or just go to the hardware store and buy a smooth board of masonite, some clips and your set, for like half the price.
November 7th, 2003, 12:33 AM
Originally posted by dns2k
tablets are meant for the writing style of drawing.
Depends on the size of your tablet.
I've got the Intuos 9x12, and it does wonderful charcoal sketches in Painter with the shoulder technique, which I learned in college some 25 years ago (yeah, I'm an old dog, but I still learn new tricks all the time!!!).
Especially with the adjustments for tilt, pressure, and size, I get some great shading strokes without holding my stylus like a writing instrument!
November 7th, 2003, 05:09 AM
inky: that actually is a great idea, thanks :)
November 16th, 2003, 04:17 PM
i can't see the pics concerning how do you hold you pencil
I.was.ink, the exercise pic isn't showing either,
and i am really curious about these two :confused:
Could you reupload these two maybe plz?
Thx a lot, hope i'm not bothering
November 16th, 2003, 06:43 PM
reuploaded my friend:)
LOOK UP! ^^^
November 20th, 2003, 05:12 AM
I.was.ink, I have quite some trouble to sharpen the pens the way you do - I tend to cut into to mine and I don't get the tip pointy, just chunky...
I guess that I hold either pencil and/ or knife wrong when cutting - so I ask if you find the time, could you show/describe your exact technique?
November 20th, 2003, 11:01 AM
After you carve out the tip w/ a razor blade, use a sandpaper block to get the tip smooth.
November 20th, 2003, 12:13 PM
Thanks, BadMange, I did that - but it still looks weird, maybe I'm using a wrong degree of pressure. Or it's just practice...
November 20th, 2003, 12:29 PM
Jester- what you want to do is: First, hold your pencil in your dominant hand, pretty much parallel to the ground. Then with your other hand, your going to take a SINGLE-EDGE razor. whatever you do don't use an exacto, or pocket knife, etc. Some people may say use that but don't. Hold the razor level with the pencil, and with your other hand(the one holding the pencil) your going to push the razor along with your thumb. Do it slowly and carefully so you don't chip into the pencil and make bevels. As you chip away the wood, you want the wood of the pencil to taper perfectly with the lead of the pencil. To start tapering the pencil tip, take the razor and do the same thing you did with it for the wood of the pencil. Just be more careful, so you don't take chunks of the lead out. You want to tilt the razor just enough to start scraping the charcoal, and not digging into it. Once you do that, then you can use that sanding block to smooth out any imperfections. Hope this helps, but it may be hard to put together visually. Maybe i.was.ink can post of image of his hands.
November 20th, 2003, 01:59 PM
Good explanation, tinyhands. I do everything except use the razor on the lead. Takes me too long, so I just whittle the wood away and use the sanding block to shape the lead. Much faster for me, especially when you are in the middle of a 5-min pose, break the lead and don't have a spare Conte/Wolffs pencil ready. I just put my thumb gently against the lead as I rub the lead back and forth against the sandpaper, rotating it slightly every few times. I don't think there's a "right" or "wrong" way to do it (unless you use a pencil sharpener, like some people in my life drawing class, of course!).
November 21st, 2003, 04:21 AM
...hunting for a single edged razor...
(Thanks a lot, tinyhands and BadMange - only thing that now confuses me in your description is to hold the pencil in my dominant hand. My dominant hand is my right hand, so I hold it with my right and take the razor into my left? Covering the lead with the thumb while using the sandpaper is a very good advice, thanks for that, too!)
November 21st, 2003, 11:08 AM
I don't have a digital camera so you'll just have to visualize my description for now. I'm right-handed too, so this should work for you. Hold the pencil in your left hand, the razor in your right hand. You use your left thumb to push the razor slowly and to adjust the angle of the blade so that the wood tapers towards the point. Otherwise you'll have a sharp edge where the wood meets the lead and the lead will be more prone to break off. I'd start about 3" from the tip and start carving away the wood. Once I've carved away enough wood for the 1-1/2" - 2" lead, I tip the razor almost flat so I can cut away any wood left on the lead (the razor should be almost parallel to the lead so you don't cut into it, only the wood. Then I take the pencil in my right hand, put my thumb against the lead and rub it gently back and forth against the sandpaper block, rotating it slightly every few seconds to get it evenly smoothed. The steps above give me exactly what is pictured in this thread. Hopefully someone will post a pic of their steps... (hint-hint)
November 26th, 2003, 01:22 PM
Yeah, you're pencils are looking pretty jacked. Although they would be fun to draw with, they're not in good enough shape to fig draw...
November 26th, 2003, 04:02 PM
Whoa, that's going to take a lot of practice to get the shaving down right. I just went through a few pencils doing it the horribly WRONG way. :)
November 26th, 2003, 09:10 PM
A long tapering lead will allow you more variety in your pencil strokes, since you can use the side of the lead as well as the tip. You also keep the point without having to sharpen as often if you gradually rotate the pencil as you use it.
It looks to me (from the pics posted on your other thread) like you are laying in most of your shadow masses across the form. With a smoothly tapering lead you would be able to lay them in more rapidly with the forms, which might help with your modeling.
November 26th, 2003, 09:28 PM
Bio- I am inspired by how well you can draw using those horribly mauled pencils.
November 27th, 2003, 12:06 AM
Well after quite a few butchered pencils, my friend suggested I use a box cutter instead of a swiss army knife (hey, the swiss was sharp)
These are certainly looking better than the other ones.
Shaved off about two inches to start.
Attempted to create a small gradiant between the tip and where I started.
The tip is still tapered from when it was previously sharpened by an electric pencil sharpener, but that will take shape soon with some more drawrings :)
Am I getting close, or is this horribly mauled? :)
November 27th, 2003, 12:17 AM
Sic1: ACtually the second one is pretty good. I am swamped with hw, so I'm sorry if this is short and sweet. But like Elwell, mentioned, that with a more uniform and with a bullet type sharpened tip, you can control the tip easier. Also, I generally only use this method when life drawing, because of the bigger sized paper actually.
I have actually drawn with "Mauled" pencils, and you can get some sweet lines with em. It's just that I suggest this way. After sharpening your pencil, with a box cutter knife is probably the best way, you take sand paper, and grind it down to a nice bullet point tip. After that you smoothen out the texture you've given the pencil with the sand paper, by putting it inside a paper towel, and slowly turning it, so that in the end result, you get a nice bullet point tip, and its perfectly smooth all the way around. It takes practice, but its so worth it.
Let me know if you guys would like tme to show you some pics of what I mean...
I can do it tomorrow, cuz eventhough I have tons of hw:bars:, I have the day off, I think I can take a break and squeeze it in.
hope I helped,
December 28th, 2003, 01:03 PM
This is the single greatest thing I've ever learned. Ever. Forget figure drawing, forget how to paint the tip of a nose, forget all that color theory, this right here is what's letting me get the smooth, even, loose guestural lines I've been after since I was 6 years old.
Why didn't my art teachers ever teach me this?
Edit: Yeah, I know, old thread, but I felt it needed to be bumped.
January 5th, 2004, 07:25 PM
This is probably the most basic question of this subject: Whats the advantages/disadvantages to sharpinging this way? And what makes it so different from using a standard pencil sharpener? (PS, I've got one of those crappy little pencil sharpeners, could i take the blade out of that and use it to carve the pencils?)
January 5th, 2004, 08:44 PM
hey i use a big knife to sharpen n butcher it.. and i use that small one for... uh i dont know but that things damn sharp.. by the way.. dont mind that little white thing.. and dont mind reading it.. naw just kidding.. just a prank
January 5th, 2004, 11:51 PM
juicy_fruit: do you take those to a life drawing class?
January 5th, 2004, 11:53 PM
Yeah, then the threatens the model to get naked with the knife.
January 6th, 2004, 12:11 AM
lol... naw im 15.. i was just messin man
but i got mad skill at drawin
January 26th, 2004, 07:15 PM
This thread just seems to keep on going huh :) Well, I thought I'd contribute to it, seeing I have a few questions about the subject. First, here's an old handout i received from Watts Atelier a few years back that may help some in the process of sharpening those conte charcoal pencils.
I think they are Jeff Watt's actual hands!
It took me quite a few times and some cut fingers to get the hang of it, but now it's quite easy to get them tapered like that... just need to do it a few times.
I do have a question about holding your drawing utensil when you're using graphite pencils or mechanical pencils or even pens when you're sketching in your 9x12 sketch book?
Should i still use the same technique as with the charcoal pencils?
Thanks and hope this old handout helps some... sorry for the quality, just found it in an old notebook i had :)
January 27th, 2004, 05:20 AM
GCastro : Could you maybe post a bigger scan of this? Or send a bigger one to my e-mail : Esmar@internet.is
I'm very interested in that sharpening method but the pics are a wee bit too small for me to make out whats happening.
Cheers and thank yous :chug:
January 27th, 2004, 01:20 PM
Hey Talmir, sure thing, here you go:
and thanks Bio for answering my questions :)
January 27th, 2004, 02:48 PM
Thanks man, I really appreciate that :)
January 27th, 2004, 03:04 PM
Ideally, the charcoal pencil should be sharpened to a point (not a bullet shape or blunt nosed) with about an inch to an inch and a half of the charcoal exposed. This allows you a wide variation in line weight as well as allowing the side of the Conte to be used to lay down large swatches of tone. The difficulty is in controlling the tool and developing the requisite dexterity to take full advantage of its benefits.
If you get a dark graphite pencil, say a 6B or so, you can probably get the same value range, but you won't be able to cover large areas in tone very quickly because not that much lead is exposed. FOr more linear work or even smaller work surfaces graphite is fine, but for larger pads and a more painterly approach, it might hold you back a bit IMO
Typically people sharpen their pencils during the 5 min breaks in between 20 min drawing session at the school. If you constantly rotate your pencil as you draw you can sharpen it simultaneously and avoid the bullet shape or duck bill shape. Typically I use the single edge razor to sharpen it and use the sanding pad for a few seconds to get the razor point and even out any small imperfections in the charcoal. The sanding pad in itself won't get you a fine point. You need to use the razor to shave off the charcoal first otherwise you end up with bullet shaped pencil tips (which don't do sharp or thin lines very well).
Keeping the charcoal smooth allows for a clean application of the tone. Any sharp edges or bevels will leave gaps as you shade or dark spots that you will have to erase out or fill in to get an even tone or gradation.
In the beginning it's better to learn how to draw without fighting the materials. That way there is no excuse as to why a particular drawing didn't turn out well. Once you get better you can experiment and know that it isn't your manual dexterity or the materials holding you back. That said, I've seen tinyhands and fredflickstone do some great work using their Ritmo nubs that are barely an inch long :) New students normally take about a semester before they stop breaking pencils and can get a consistently sharpened Conte
For my sketchbook, I have held my pen/pencil both ways. I don't think it really matters other than preference.
January 27th, 2004, 07:42 PM
GCastro and dzu, thanks a lot - to both of you!
January 28th, 2004, 04:48 PM
those instructions by watts atelier really are going to change my sharpening ways :p no more small pencil sharpeners!
January 29th, 2004, 04:59 AM
I'm really glad it's helping you guys, just watch your fingers :)
February 2nd, 2004, 09:48 PM
When drawing with charcoal i've never held the pencil in a writing grip. I thought i would so a quick video to show how i draw with charcoal.
Keep in mind that i've not drawn with charcoal or been to a watts class in months... i gotta get back soon. This is by no means a tut on sketching, just merely showing how I hold the pencil to get various lines and results with it. Don't know how Jeff, Ron, or Eric will take this poor attempt at drawing the watts way :D Anyways, here it is... let me know what you think.
Pencil Technique - 14megs (http://www.gc3d.mselah.com/Pencil_tec_02.avi)
p.s. you need divx to view... all other formats were just too big
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