BEECH TREE in Pencil
Artists & Illustrators|August 2021
Drawing a colourful subject in graphite shouldn’t be viewed as a challenge, says DENIS JOHN-NAYLOR, but rather a welcome opportunity to use a little artistic license
DENIS JOHN-NAYLOR

Denis' materials

•HB, 2B, 4B and 6B graphite pencils

•A3 cartridge paper

•Putty eraser

•Eraser shield

•Craft knife

•Scrap paper

1 Draw outlines

This drawing was made in the studio using sketches and photos made on location. I drew the main trunk and root shapes with an HB pencil. In life, objects do not have lines around them, so these lines should get lost as we introduce tone. Don’t include any background at this point.

Use the side of a pointed 2B pencil, held underhand, to lay an initial tone within this outline, using a light circular action. Always test the working edge of your pencil on scrap paper first to check it makes the required mark.

2 Push the tones

Working from the top of the image, add variable toning to suggest form. Use short, vertical strokes with slightly blunt 2B and 4B pencils. Add pressure to extend the range of tones and texture with the 4B pencil. Where lightening is required, shape the end of a putty eraser and lift the graphite with a dabbing motion. Keep moulding the eraser to clean the working edge.

3 Feel out the roots

Continue with textural and tonal mark making across the trunk using the 2B and 4B pencils and the putty eraser. Start on the ground to get a feel for its tone and texture against that of the roots.

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