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Working with graphite pencils

Posted by Matthew Bell on
Working with graphite pencils - Matthew Bell Wildlife Art

Many pencil artists use only graphite (greyscale, the 'HB's etc.) pencils for their artworks and stay well away from colour pencils. Personally, I love the variation of using both, and most of the time will alternate between completing graphite and colour drawings as I find this keeps things interesting and gives me a nice variety of completed drawings.

In this post, however, I will talk briefly about my use of graphite. I prefer to use graphite pencils only for the 'grey' animals (Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo's etc) and you wont ever see a drawing of mine where a lion, leopard or any type of bird for example is drawn in graphite. 

As with any of my drawings, layers are vital. Once I have drawn the general outline and other main lines and features of the animal I use an 8H pencil which is a very hard, very light pencil and only slightly darker than the white of the paper to 'colour in' the animal and create that first layer. This also serves to smooth out the texture of the paper slightly which enables me to get greater detail as the drawing progresses. I will then go darker and darker using 2H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B and even a waxy, black aquarelle pencil to get the desired level of lightness/darkness in the picture. 

In the accompanying picture of my Buffalo drawing one can see there are also many small hairs on the animal and these are added in along the way. Drawing in individual hairs can be tedious at times but theres no other way around it! It is also important to draw these hairs going in the right direction so as to enhance the realism of the drawing and also to show the musculature of the animal.

As the drawing is almost complete I will use a milky pen to add in small areas of light which helps give any drawing a 3D effect and makes it really come to life! In the Buffalo this can be seen on the nose, in the eyes and on the lighter areas of the horns.

This particular drawing is roughly A4 size and took around 20 - 22 hours to complete but to this day is still one of my absolute favorites!


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