Color Style #4: Chalkboard Technique
Our next one is a chalkboard drawing. So, this is a really great technique to practice, because it gets you thinking in a completely different way about what you're drawing. So far, everything that we have been drawing, we've been taking a dark colored pen or a pencil, or a paint brush, and looking for the shadows, and painting the shadows. Well in this one, we're only painting the highlights. There it is. Okay so, I started out, and if I want to paint something that looks like a chalkboard, I'm just gonna paint my paper black. Now, you could use chalkboard paint. I probably wouldn't use an oil-based chalkboard paint if I'm painting it with watercolor or gouache, anything water-based. I'm gonna look for something that's water-based and that doesn't have too much binder in it so it's not shiny. When you're doing chalkboard you want something that's very, very matte so it has a lot of tooth to it, so the chalk will really stick to it. And, basically I just took my black paint, this is wh...
en you use black, and I watered it, took my black paint, I watered it down just a bit, and I just painted the thing black. That's all I did to it. And on this one, you could do a couple coats if you want. If it seems like it's a little transparent, but usually black is just really thick and dark. Here you can see I taped off the edges with washy tape. It gives it a little more of a chalkboard look, but you don't have to. Okay now see what's happened to my paint water.
Cleo, can I ask, would there be a benefit to using chalkboard paint instead of the black gouache?
Yeah, this gouache is pretty expensive because it's made for doing little things this big, but if you can do something bigger, I definitely wouldn't use it. I'd buy chalkboard paint. Something that's like a chalkboard spray can, that's gonna be oil-based, or some kind of solvent-based, and I'm guessing your watercolors are not gonna stick to it very well. In this case, we're gonna use a colored pencil. So, it would probably stick to that, but if you try and do like a, you could do chalkboard look in white as well. And that looks pretty neat. And then since we're using gouache, it's gonna lift and it's gonna mix with that and you're gonna get some cool blend, you see now I have gray paint here. Because the bottom one just lifted, and it starts to look really cool, and it has all these different undulating shadows in there, and washy looks. We're gonna just do this with a colored pencil, to really give you a good idea of how to look for the light. Can I change out my water? Is there?
Do you think if I just dump it in this bucket?
Do you need a refresh?
That'd be great, thanks. Okay, because I'm not gonna use that for right now. So what you do is, you have a picture, you all have your picture on here. And, you're gonna trace it onto your tracing paper. I'm doing mine a little larger, and then we're gonna transfer it, and remember how we transferred our drawings with the Saral transfer paper in black. Well if we did black on here it wouldn't really show up, would it? So we are gonna use the white one. And you can see it has a powdery coating on one side. And then, you'll just have to feel where it is I guess. And I'm going to, make it a little bit easier to hold by cutting it down. Thank you. Now this stuff is a lot more powdery and it comes off more quickly than the graphite, so we're gonna get our hardest pencil, and we're gonna get it really sharp. So, you tape that down. With a little bit of washi tape. Try and find the powdery side, and put that face down on the black. And transfer your drawing on there.
And Cleo, quick question. If someone was doing this at home, could they also do this on a piece of black paper versus.
Painting it black?
Yes, for sure.
You could do it on black paper, and it's also really fun to do it on like a medium tone, like a craft paper like that.
On the paint, it gives it more of a chalkboard look, but for sure for an exercise, if you're just working on finding highlights, black paper is great. Okay so I did just a few lines, so I'm gonna peak, see if I've got my transfer paper facing the right side up. Yep, I do. Okay, how is it looking? Oh, this is gonna be fun to reveal it. This is looking very dramatic. Okay. And this is the lemon flavor. Do we have a lemon? We do have a lemon. I would say most of the time when you see chalkboard art, a lot of times it starts with a transfer of some kind. It's just a little bit harder to straight out draw on black for some reason. Okay, there you go, so that comes out much more dramatic than the graphite one, doesn't it? It's very contrasty, very fun.
And you said that the Saral transfer paper comes in a variety of colors?
And when would you use some of those?
It comes in like blue and yellow, and red. I use the graphite most. The white of course you use on a dark color. The blue, I think the blue originally was for non-photo blue, but with all the digital going on now, I don't know if that really counts. But I'll use it if I'm painting something blue, and I don't want it to show up. The yellow is a really good one if you're doing something on white paper and you just want barely a hint of a line. Like if I'm doing a watercolor transfer, I'll see that graphite through the watercolor because it's transparent, so I might use yellow there.
And, since it's very powdery it will probably erase better than the graphite too.
The graphite-based one that you used earlier, is the white graphite-based as well?
It just says wax-free pigment I think.
So, I'm guessing that graphite is always dark gray.
Pencil color. So now when we're looking at this one, we're not looking for the shadows, because if I took this white pencil and I looked at the shadows and drew them all in dark, I would draw an X-ray, which is cool, but I just want to try and draw the highlights in white, straightforward this time. And it kind of gets your mind, it's a little twist in your mind. This is a really good exercise to look at things differently. It's like you're looking at the positive and the negative shapes, and you're looking at the highlights and the shadows differently. Because before I would just kind of circle the highlights, and now I go straight in and draw the highlights. So, just a little bit on the lemon. Squint your eyes. What's the brightest thing that you see there? These drawings, this drawing, so it's really hard to tell on this because it's tiny. I'll just put this here for a second. This is a bigger version, and this picture is also in your materials where you downloaded all the dog pictures, and the thing that you're drawing on right now, the blue line drawing. So it might be a little easier to see on this than on this crinkly one. But squint your eyes, look at that. What's the brightest thing you see? So, fill that in first. Okay, I'm gonna avoid the letters for a moment, until we just knock out some of these larger light areas. And I'm just starting with a very light pressure. And then you can come back in after you've got this sort of very light pressure in places. Make sure you save out the blacks. If there's anything deep in the shadows in here, I'm not gonna touch it. Okay now when you get kind of a allover, squint again and find the lightest of the lights, and do that heavier. Let's see, this looks pretty light up here. Just try and get as much variety as you can with the lightest strokes and the heaviest strokes. Okay. Now there's a couple of ways you can come to when you have these little areas to deal with. Just gonna do a light one over here too. Two ways. One you can kind of fake it, and you can go with the lines that the transfer paper has made. Just kind of draw around them a little bit so you're saving dark areas. Because you just drew light, and this is dark on your drawing. So here I'm kind of just fudging it a little and filling in around, and that works for things that are kind of unspecific decorations. Because you can make them up however you want.
And Cleo, could you reiterate for us, when you talk about looking at that image and squinting to see the highlights, what do you mean by that?
When you squint your eyes, you kind of, things get blurred out, and the definition between the darks and the lights, it seems like it just gets more basic, basic black and white, as opposed to seeing all the different little crinkles of the paper and stuff. You can kind of just see the bigger shapes, because things are blurrier. It's harder to tell with a yellow and white tiny candy, but if you're looking at a larger object, like say this trophy and you squint down, you can really see there's like a big dark shadow on one side and a big light section on the other side. Okay so, here is where technique number one is just kind of blocking out around this white line, and saving it. Technique number two is, there is no way I'm gonna be able to draw around that white line, so what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna erase it. Because I can write those letters pretty well myself, and this stuff erases pretty well. You're gonna notice that the transfer paper erases a lot better than the colored pencil does. Now, I'm gonna take a dark pencil, and I'm just gonna write it again myself. It kind of shows up as a little bit shiny but it's still dark. You know what? That's an I, it's not an E. And then, now that my line is dark, I can go in around it much more easily. These colored pencils get dull really fast too. You notice when you see me kind of picking it up, I'm twisting the pencil, so I'm trying to find a sharper place. And I'll do that until I feel like I've worn out all the edges, and then I'll go sharpen it. So here's a sample that I spent a little more time on, and I really got into the detail a little bit more. You can see that I really left the darks for the writing, and for the lemon, and then I tried to get a little bit of undulation and highlights, and shadows within my whites there. And then on my shadow, notice usually the darkest thing is gonna be closest to the candy. But since I'm not drawing with dark, I started at the lightest side and drew towards it that way, and left it. Because we're drawing opposites on this one. So I really love that technique. And, it's great to just practice it a lot. If you've been drawing a lot in a pencil, switch things up. Go to drawing the opposite.