Shading Practice

After yesterday’s less-than-stellar pencil drawing of the back yard, I took some advice from John Ruskin, 19th century artist, through his book Elements of Drawing. In the first few pages of ‘Elements’ there are some basic exercises intended to instruct a beginner in uniform shading of and area, and shading from dark to light with a pen or a pencil.

Today’s experiment: Shading

Pen and Ink: Shading Practice Using Pen and Pencil

Shading Practice
11″x14″ 140# Mixed Media Paper

In the first exercise, Ruskin asked the student to draw a square box and, using lines that are drawn swiftly, in different directions, completely fill the box. The end result should be a uniform tone that looks like a patch of fabric.

In the figure above, I used a 005 Prisma Color pen to shade the two squares on the left. The nib of this pen is very fine. For the other squares, I used a Micron .5mm pen, much thicker than the first. Most of the patches are uniform in shading. Ruskin suggested that if the patches are not uniform, the student was to use the pen to correct the error. This sounds much easier than it actually is.

In the next exercise, (skipping Ruskin’s exercise II) I drew two long rectangles and started using dots to shade from light to dark. For the light areas I spaced the dots far apart, making them closer together to obtain darker shades.

In the topmost strip, I used the fine nib; the .5mm pen tip dots filled the strip immediately beneath.

Underneath the two strips, I innovated. I spaced parallel lines with wide spacing at the top, gradually narrowing the distance. The idea was the same as in the dot exercise: to gradually shade from light to dark. Based on the results, I need more practice with long parallel lines.

Below this, I did the dot exercises with pencils of different hardnesses: HB, 2B and 4B (unfinished).

Shading exercise in practice:

When I finished the shading exercises (after icing my throbbing hand), I desperately searched for a subject on which to put my sharpened skills to use. The ink box caught my eye.

Photograph: Box with Ink Bottles Inside

Box of Ink – Reference Photo

I used lines and dots to try getting the appropriate dark and light patches onto my paper.

Pen and Ink: Box of Ink Bottles

Box of Ink
6″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Aside from the dodgy perspective and some errors in tonal values, I am fairly satisfied with this study. I do think it wise for me to continue practicing, however.

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