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Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Lesson 2 of 9

Demo: Graphite Tools

Mary Jane Begin

Getting Started with Colored and Graphite Pencils

Mary Jane Begin

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Lesson Info

2. Demo: Graphite Tools

Lesson Info

Demo: Graphite Tools

Today we're gonna talk about basically two materials, which are the graphite pencils and the colored pencils. And we have two types of colored pencils. Your sort of traditional colored pencils. And I'm gonna actually switch order over here so all the wax based pencils are together and all of the water based or water soluble pencils are together. And that will be these and these. So wax based, and water based. And I'll explain the difference between the two. I'm gonna start with graphite. And I wanna talk first about sort of the tools that you use. Some of the blending tools. And talk about the papers. And I'm kinda gonna do it in combination so I can test it and talk about it at the same time. But I wanna walk through first graphite and then colored pencil. Mostly because the graphite, it's simpler. You're starting with value. Then we'll shift to adding color to that conversation. So the first thing I want to show you is, both a surface to work on and the types of pencils and leads tha...

t you have. Now you've see, you know, your traditional pencils like this. It's just a wooden stick with, you know, your leads on the end. Now, you can certainly buy any of the pencils I'll describe in a traditional pencil form. But I am a huge fan of what's called the mechanical pencil. And there's two of them. This is mine from home. I'm sentimental. I wanted to bring my pencil with me. And this is one that Blick Art supply, Blick Art Materials supplied. And it's a little bit heavier than mine. But it's really really similar. And it's by the same, Kohinoor is the company. So what's beautiful about these as opposed to the pencil, which are perfectly fine, you can get them in all the different leads, but the mechanical pencil you can actually pull the lead out and switch to another lead. And I really like that. It's just, it's my personal preference. And a lot of people don't know about the mechanical pencils or they don't think of it. They think of the kind with the tiny little lead on the end which breaks so easily. These are hefty. These are designed for architects. So, it's a really nice pencil lead. And it comes in a variety of what's called weights. And I've shown them here. I have the lightest pencil. Which is 4H. It's a super super light lead. I have it here. And again they come, the leads come in this, these tiny little tubes. You can get a big packet. Or a two, two leads in a tube. So we'll test the 4H. You can probably see that the 4H is really light. And you say to yourself, why, oh there's more pencil, why would you use such a light pencil? Why would you, why would you want something that barely even makes a mark on the surface? I can't get a very dark value with this because it's really hard. And it's meant to be really light. You would use this kind of pencil mark making if you were doing a drawing where you didn't want the lead to smear into any tonality or color. It's so hard that it doesn't move. When you touch it it doesn't go anywhere. So it doesn't go very dark. But it also doesn't create a thickness of, of lead on the top, or graphite, on the top, I shouldn't say lead, graphite on the top of the paper. So the H, the 4H, and the 2H are really designed for application that isn't about blending necessarily. You can make a gradation. But you can't make a dramatic gradation. It's just a very light tool because the graphite is super hard. So 2Hs and 4Hs are great to have in your repertoire. I would highly recommend it. Just because it's meant for a specific kind of application. I just have to put them back in the right tube when I'm finished with them. So here's our two, our 2H and our 4H. Super hard. Then we go to our B. And the B lead, you can also have an H in that repertoire. You can have a 4H, 2H, H. But I think the difference between 4H, 2H, and H is fairly minimal. You could have one H. You could just have a 2H or an H. Or a really hard 4H. But they're close in their application. I would say the net lead to have, besides one of your H's, would be a B. And there's another alternative, which is an F. The B and the F create a slightly deeper tonality. I've done a little gradation scale here of all the different, deepest values. And the B is here. And that can go fairly dark. It's not gonna go to black. It's not like charcoal. Graphite does not go to the depth of charcoal. But I can go pretty dark with B. I would say that the B lead is one of the most versatile leads that you can get. I tend to use my B or my F which is very similar for a lot of drawing. It does move a little bit. If I push my finger around, it does move. And if you go very heavily, it might pick up off of a surface if you're trying to paint over something that has pencil on it. So, you have to maybe switch to a lead that's maybe less, a little less soft. That's a little softer than this lead. But a B is a really versatile tool to use. If you're doing dry media on top of any pencil drawings that you've made, you can absolutely spray fix it. Workable fixative, which is also available from Blick, is a great tool for dry media, to be able to make a pencil drawing, spray fix it, make sure your outside or well ventilated where you use this stuff because it is an aerosol and it is, has a fume to it. But it holds your pencil lead or your pastel or any of your dry media onto the surface of the paper. So it's a really good tool if you use it wisely. You know, take it outside. But you can't spray fix a drawing that you're then going to watercolor on top of because the spray fixative will tend to resist the watercolor. You can use acrylic. You can oil on spray fixative. But I just, note to self, watercolor and spray fixative aren't too friendly. So I tend to use a really hard H lead for my drawings that I know I'm gonna watercolor on top of. Unless it has to be really really dark, if the picture's a dark tonality, I might go with a B. And then just try not to move it around too much as I'm watercoloring. The next lead up would be your 2B or your 4B. And those are your, really your darkest leads. And I'm gonna go straight to the 4B. Because it is the softest of the lead before you hit the ebony pencil. These have a point on them already. I'll show you the sharpener that you use, which is not the standard sharpener you would use with a pencil. You know, these two tools. But if you're buying what I'm showing you here, which is the mechanical pencil, you are gonna use a different kind of sharpener. And I'll just show you now how that works. This already has a point. But you stick it in. And you spin it around. It makes a kind of interesting sound. And you can make like a needle point. That's pretty sharp. And then you can blot the dust, the graphite dust, off of that by puncturing this little soft, it's like a little, I don't know, like a foam here. And that's just cleaning off so you don't have extra dust on your, on your pencil. And we'll talk about graphite dust in a minute. Because graphite dust can be really interesting. But this is your 4B. And this can get really really really dark. You can also get some beautiful fine marks with any of these pencils. They are designed for making super fine marks as well as you know tones. And this paper that I'm working on, this is just a regular old sketch. I'll show you the pad. It's just sketch paper. This is the kind of paper I would use primarily for you know rough sketches. Or gesture drawings. I would not use this paper for a very finished or fine illustration. The reason why, or, or image, is it's super thin. It's kind of a rough bond surface. It's, it's got a little bit of a texture to it. It's not really designed for super fine work. But it's great for roughs. If I were doing rough sketches I would absolutely do it on here. Or any kind of preliminary drawing. I would work on sketch paper. It's a nice paper to work on. So I did wanna mention the dust, what I do, and I may have, I also brought my (laughing), I brought my pencil sharpener from home. I will show you, there should be some dust in here. Yeah there it is. You can make, you can buy this in the art supply store. But you can home make it. If you have enough times that you've sharpened your pencil you're gonna create graphite dust. And the graphite dust is great for making a big, sort of surface of tonality. Like I've done up here. Now I'm just using my finger. Again, kind of knows, I like to use my fingers. But, you also have a tool, which I put over there, if someone can grab it I, didn't think I was gonna be using that for this material but the stumps are sitting over on the white table. If someone could grab them. That's another tool for moving the tonality across the surface. But right now I'm just using my finger. And I'm, just blowing the dust away. Like this. But this is a beautiful kind of way to create a very large tonality. Otherwise you have to, you know, just sit there and, and literally draw the whole thing out with a really fine point tool. So sometimes you want a large area. Use your graphite dust. And you can rub it with a rag. You can rub it with your finger. You can rub it with the stump. Which I can show you in a little bit. But this takes a lot longer and I can cir, you know, draw little circle shapes but it's gonna take a lot longer than if I use the dust that came right out of my sharpener.

Class Description

Are you interested in drawing with color or graphite pencils but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to color or graphite pencils. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a drawing practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to start experimenting and drawing with color or graphite pencils!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of color or graphite pencils and how they work
  • Which supplies and papers to use when working with color or graphite pencils
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium

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