Black And White Art Techniques

March 28, 2019 7:18 am by columnblogger
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Black And White Art Techniques

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 100.

Drawing techniques: 7 fundamentals of pencil drawing06. Keep it light 

Behold the humble pencil: so simple and basic yet so full of possibilities. Like handwriting, everybody draws differently from everybody else. Our various styles will inform how we use our pencils so experiment with different types of pencil marks to get the full range of use out of your pencil. This will be valuable especially when using different types of marks to describe textures and elements as completely different things.

Just like when drawing with ballpoint pen, a blank sheet of scrap paper can come in handy when drawing with pencils too. Pencil drawings—particularly those done with B pencils—can smudge very easily so I like to put a blank sheet of paper under the heel of my hand as I draw so as to protect my work in progress.

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When working with markers, do a rough sketch of your idea in pencil first before making permanent marker pen marks. The great thing about sketching a marker drawing in pencil first is that after the marker ink has dried, you can take an eraser to the entire illustration and remove the initial pencil sketch, leaving the marker intact.

Hopefully these next tips will help you get over the learning curve quickly and with ease.

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Once you’ve painted a shape that you’re pretty happy with, it’s time to start adding in some values. When doing this I don’t tend to use any values that are too bright or too dark, I like to keep things subtle while I’m building up the shape. I keep things pretty sketchy and gently add in some subtle shadows and highlights to find the structure of the body.

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Pencils are versatile for all the different marks they can make

We can do a lot with one pencil but we can broaden our range of values if we use a variety of pencils. I prefer to use two or three different pencils, starting with a 2H. Pencils with the letter “H” have harder lead, which won’t mark my paper as much so their lines will have a lighter tone. “B” pencils make blacker marks than H, so I use these more towards finish.

I start out with a simple silhouette and then build up to a refined design. This technique also makes creating any variations on the character very simple too, because there’s no need to worry about interfering with any colours you’ve painted.

You’re here > Home > Features > Illustration & Art 38 tips for creating stunning black-&-white art

Have a look at the video below, then read on for nine tips for creating beautiful black and white drawings – or blue and white, if that’s your thing…

Before I begin drawing in earnest, I like to first plan out my drawings using small thumbnails. Regardless of what drawing tool I’m using, thumbnails help me figure out composition and readability, which helps me avoid errors before I commit them to paper. Employing thumbnails also allows me to explore ideas quickly and by sketching small, I force myself to simplify and focus only on the important elements of my drawings.

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When drawing with pencils, we tend to make lines too dark too early. We should sketch with light lines because these only suggest edges and borders; dark lines are for the later stages because they are definitive and not open to interpretation. Lines can darken prematurely if it takes a few tries to get the exact line you want. If that happens, slow down and be more careful; speed up again once you get the hang of it.

Subtle highlights and shadows help define the structure of the body

Ballpoint pens make readily accessible and easy to use drawing tools for black and white pictures. They also present their own challenges and limitless possibilities, which we’ll explore in these drawing tips.

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Remember to try and vary the values you’re choosing. You can use bright white highlights right through to dark greys and black. If you just stick to the middle ground and only use grey it can make things look a little flat.

Painting in black and white is great, because it makes you concentrate on elements such as composition, value, lighting and form. Of course, colour is a vital step, but the benefit of black and white is that you can focus on the image as a whole.

You might prefer to draw your black and white artworks in pencil or with marker pens, which we’ll explore too (or if you’d rather try charcoal, check out these 10 expert tips for charcoal drawing).

Painting in black and white means you can focus on the image as a whole and resolve any glaring issues before you get to the colour stage. From here it’s pretty easy to just keep building up the detail until you’re ready to either go to colour or simply leave it as black and white.

This may seem like an odd way to start an article on black and white drawings, but when I was a kid, my favourite drawing tool was a blue crayon. I drew everything in that one colour – the sky, the sea – and things that weren’t even blue, like my neighbour’s cat, our house, and my family. These monochrome drawings helped me develop the skills to know how to draw in black and white.

Sketch with non-permanent pencil before using permanent marker

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Ballpoint pens are great to draw with because we can make beautifully thin lines with them and create a lot of contrast. However, pens can also be very unforgiving: every mark is permanent – and so is every errant ink blotch! A big ink blotch could suddenly form and ruin your drawing forever. 

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I’m happy with the shape and structure so it’s time to add in details. This is one of my favourite stages and I could happily detail characters all day long. I start to add in those dark shadows and bright highlights to really bring out the form of the character. I stick with a fairly small soft brush, sketch in and then build up those details, refining as I go.

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First things first – I block out the character’s basic silhouette. I always try and keep things fairly rough at this point and avoid going into any detail too soon. Whether your character is a little kid or a hulking great giant, this is the time to focus on their shape and try and emphasise their character. Experiment with silhouettes until you find one you like.

To prevent this, periodically roll the sides of your pen tip on a scrap sheet of paper to remove ink buildup.

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When drawing with markers, try to get a variety of black tones to work with in order to create a maximum range of values. Markers draw really quick and clean but can be a little difficult to work with if you’re not used to the starkness and graphic nature of marker work. 

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Super-useful advice and techniques from 10 illustrators for creating black-and-white artworks – using pens, paints or digital tools.

Most of the time I opt for a black and white process. Here, I’m going to use the example of a character design, and run through some simple painting techniques you can use to get your black and white designs up to scratch.

Because markers use so much ink, they tend to run out quickly. However, just because a marker is fading doesn’t mean it’s not useful anymore. Markers that are running out of ink are great for creating texture or blending together tones. I find them just as necessary in the drawing process as fresh new markers.

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