Working with the pencil.
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    Working with the pencil.

    Hey everyone. I'm NEW!

    I've been reading about how to properly hold a pencil, how to use your whole arm for drawing, and having your work surface vertical. Since this is all new to me, I'm finding it very awkward, but I understand that will pass.

    What I would like to know is if anyone has a link to a video showing someone working in this way. Proper pencil hold, using entire arm, vertical surface.

    I'm also trying to draw deliberately and less scratchy, and not petting in my lines.

    I'd like to understand when to use the whole arm, when to draw from the elbow, the wrist, maybe use your fingers for details? How scratchy or deliberate should it all be?

    I've read a lot about this, but I think it would help me more if I could see what I'm trying to achieve here.

    Also, do you ever anchor your hand in any way? It feels more controlled to have my drawing hand touching the paper, rather than just floating around. Is that bad to do, or acceptable?

    So in summary! lol. I'd like a video of someone drawing, and any tips or suggestions, that could help me better understand the mechanics of drawing.

    Thank you in advance!


    Jay

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    How do you remember your screen name when you have to type it in?

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    It's nine J's, lol.

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    Thanks Radicou.

    I've seen that page. It was very helpful.

    It seems that for fine details you would use the pen grip, with your fingers no closer than 2 inches from the tip. My question is do you use your fingers for drawing the fine details or do you still use your whole arm? I can't imagine my arm ever being steady enough for fine details.

    Also, is it best to have only the lead touching the paper, or could your hand, or possibly little finger, rest against the paper?

    The pen grip is said to be best for detailing and small-size sketching. The violin grip is said to be best for rough sketching, on big paper.

    What's considered small-size sketching? And what's considered big paper?

    If you were to draw a figure on 24x36, the head will be rather small, wouldn't it? So would you rough in the head with the violin grip? Or is that small enough for the pen grip? Features of the head would be pen grip, but would you be drawing with the arm then, or the wrist/fingers? And is it okay for your hand to touch the paper?

    Maybe I'm over analyzing, but I just want to make sure I'm not attempting something that isn't doable, drawing small details with your arm.

    And my other questions have to do with line quality. Deliberate lines, versus petting in your lines. I need pictures and video of people drawing!

    I appreciate the help so far!


    Jay

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    Here's a video...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oqq38..._order&list=UL

    Is the drawing he's working on here considered small, or large? He seems to use his fingers to move the pencil at times. I also notice he rests his hand on the paper.

    Comments? Help!?


    Jay

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    Do what makes sense to you. I never understood why you should hold your pencil in a special way. I can understand that there is a point to hold the pencil longer up the shaft if you're drawing something that's really big. Or if you're painting on a wet canvas. But for regular drawings it just makes it harder to draw accurately, which I assume is the opposite of what you would want...

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    tobbA: I guess what I was wondering was HOW to draw accurately with your arm. I can understand blocking stuff in, but detail is extremely difficult. I'm also bothered by having my hand floating off the paper.

    Thank you for the comment!


    Jay

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    That video shows what is often considered the "correct" way to draw... certainly a good thing to learn, because it's always good to have more tools in your kit than less, although many artists do not work this way.

    Notice a few things... he actually holds the pencil in a number of different ways depending on the marks he wants... he rests his hand on the paper, it's almost impossible not to do this for fine detail... he's working pretty large as it's difficult to work this way small.

    Some artists prefer an angled surface which among other things lets you use a bridge to keep your hand off the paper. Of course you can use a mahlstick to keep your hand off the paper when it's vertical.

    Personally I'm more comfortable with all the "wrong" ways of drawing, but it really depends on the tools you like and the size you like. Having said that, I always suggest beginners learn the standard ways to do things so they can at least make an informed choice about how they like to work.

    Oh yeah, I don't recommend working on a flat surface for observational drawing... it always seems to let distortions in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjjjjjjjj View Post
    tobbA: I guess what I was wondering was HOW to draw accurately with your arm. I can understand blocking stuff in, but detail is extremely difficult. I'm also bothered by having my hand floating off the paper.

    Thank you for the comment!


    Jay
    Jay I hope you won't take this the wrong way... But your time would be better spent practicing drawing and figuring out through practice what methods and angles, surfaces, textures you prefer than asking here. We can show you videos, but unless we see you draw we can't give critiques. And there is no "right" way.

    When I was in highschool a teacher showed us some techniques and said try them, if they don't feel right, try something else. A lot of people, myself included, get caught up in the minute details when in reality they should be focusing on what's natural to them. Im not saying don't learn what people consider the right way, just cautioning you to not get so caught up in details you don't actually draw.

    That's just my 2cents.

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    CCThrom: Yes, I only recently discovered this "correct" way, so I was trying to play around with it and understand how it's done. I appreciate your help!

    Ardescoere: I HAVE been so wrapped up in this that I've slacked off on drawing! I guess I'll keep these other pencil holds in mind while drawing and use what feels best for what I'm doing.

    AND I should probably start a sketchbook to get critiques on the drawings themselves.

    Thank you all very much.


    Jay

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    In a nutshell:

    The "proper" method is great for gestures, sketching, broad strokes, et cetera. If you're drawing over large areas, you want to use it.

    Then there's the writing grip, which is perfect for tiny little details. Details that are the size of or smaller than letters.

    There are also other ways to hold the pencil, like flat to the paper for shading and such. It's largely a matter of scale and what you're trying to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jjjjjjjjj View Post
    I've seen that page. It was very helpful.
    Thankee.

    It seems that for fine details you would use the pen grip, with your fingers no closer than 2 inches from the tip. My question is do you use your fingers for drawing the fine details or do you still use your whole arm? I can't imagine my arm ever being steady enough for fine details.
    You still use the whole arm with fingers either just gripping or helping a little. You can prop the elbow for the pen grip, but do it in a way that lets you move the hand a little. (Also, the pen grip works better with inclined board, not a vertical one.)

    Always try to use the biggest joint you can get away with, fingers are the last resort for the tiniest things. Maybe it'd be clearer if instead of "use your whole arm" I say "never lock your wrist, elbow and shoulder joints"?

    Also, is it best to have only the lead touching the paper, or could your hand, or possibly little finger, rest against the paper?
    Ideally, you should avoid resting your hand on paper, because of smudges. But if you need to, either use a protective layer between the paper and your hand, or maybe prop the hand lightly on the nail of the bent little finger. Nails don't have oil on them, so they cannot smudge; and you only need a very light touch to get a lot of stability. You don't need "propping", all you need is a tactile sense of where the drawing surface is.

    What's considered small-size sketching? And what's considered big paper? If you were to draw a figure on 24x36, the head will be rather small, wouldn't it? So would you rough in the head with the violin grip? Or is that small enough for the pen grip? Features of the head would be pen grip, but would you be drawing with the arm then, or the wrist/fingers?
    You are more or less correct here: parts of a big sketch will be small enough to merit a change of grip. You could simply adjust the grip to the size, going through the whole range of "gesture" grips.

    However, the grip is less important than the motion of your arm. A "bow" grip is good for the biggest swooshy or straight motions, a "pen" grip for the more precise, small ones that involve less shoulder and more wrist. You can do small details with a "bow" grip, but you'll probably find that your lead angle gets awkward. Likewise, it's possible to do the widest lines with a "pen" grip, but again the pencil angle isn't great.

    What the grip is important for is the light touch. You mustn't press on the pencil, and with the "bow" grip you simply cannot. It teaches the light touch very well.

    The size of the sketch - how big is "big" - also depends on the motion range. If you only use your wrist, even 9 by 12 page is big. But try detailing a drawing that size with just the "bow" grip, and you'll find it small. It's relative to your movement, and that's what one needs to practice.

    The best thing you could do is start working big and just figure out how it works for you in practice. For the start, try to keep sticking to the broadest motion and the "bowest" grip you can, so you develop the motion from the shoulder. You'll develop a set of skills as you invent them. I, for example, often use my elbow as a fulcrum to make a variety of curves; and with pen grip I use my shoulder for the vertical motion and the wrist for the horizontal one. Your technique might turn out different. Experiment.

    One exercise that's very helpful is tracing your lines. Make a random, nice, flowing curve across the paper; then trace precisely along it. Or refine it if it turned out kinky. Repeat as needed. It teaches precision with broad motion, and helps to get rid of that "petting the line" that you've mentioned.

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    Anid Maro: I've always drawn way too small, and recent attempts at drawing large were very frustrating. Not so much the large parts, but the smaller details within the larger forms. I guess with practice I'll be able to use my arm with more accuracy, and be able to determine when to use my wrist more. Thanks.

    arenhaus: Thank you very much for the explanations!

    I've had lots of trouble squeezing the crap out of the pencil, and smashing down into the paper which is why I looked into this method. Trying to develop a lighter touch, and save my HAND!

    I guess I developed the habit of using tension in order to gain control. It's very difficult now trying to draw with accuracy while staying relaxed.

    Again, I really appreciate your help!


    Jay

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