Daily Sketch #23: Drawing in Reverse


Today’s sketch is inspired by curiosity and experimentation. I thought it would be interesting to do a drawing in reverse, kinda. The idea was to fill the entire page with a graduated value scale that was pretty dark, then remove graphite with a gummy eraser to “draw” the trees.

I’m happy with the result, but it made me think a lot more than I had anticipated. And frankly, this is more complicated than I initially thought it would be. While I only spent about 20 – 30 minutes on this one, it could have easily been a couple of hours. Here are the things I had to consider:

  1. Should the initial value shading be done with the darkest darks (about a 9 on a 10 point scale) in the distance where the pathway fades away, somewhere on the horizon line, or more in the foreground. I opted for somewhere near the end of the pathway, but then spread it out a little further once I got into the sketch details. I thought the horizon line would have been a good idea, but who the hell knows where that really is in this kind of composition.
  2. Trying to fill a large block with darkness wasn’t as easy as I expected. All the drawing lessons I’ve taken, ILT or self paced, you do a lot of shading exercises that have boundaries, shapes, and contrasts. You never do a whole page. Apparently nobody teaches that because you might go insane. Trying to get it laid in well enough to not be distracted by the sketch lines wasn’t easy, but it was a sketch so I didn’t worry about it too much.
  3. Related to #2 above, it was also important to not press the graphite into the paper too hard because I was going to pull off parts of it to “draw” the trees.
  4. Drawing the trees with a gummy eraser is fun, but ever so weird. I’ve used this technique to get texture and shape in clouds, but trees have more definition and sharper lines. It worked pretty well, though.

Overall, the effect is creepy and cool. The pathway is very light, although it darkens as you move further along – might be hard to see in the photo. There is a lot of variation in values in the darkness of the forrest, which is similar to getting just the right subtle mixture of color in an oil painting. It’s nice in this sketch because it gives a sense of atmosphere and prevents it from looking flat. Speaking of which, that was the hardest part with the trees. Pulling off enough graphite with the gummy eraser in just the right places so as to give the impression of trees with shape was the primarily challenge. The outcome is something unusual, deceptively layered, and just a bit eerie.

For the detail oriented, this sketch utilized the whole drawer: HB, 2B, 4B, 8B and an ebony. As mentioned, the gummy eraser was used for the trees.

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