Materials and preparation: Reading and recreating tone

The Guardian-11 years before

When describing an object as black, we are acknowledging both its "local colour" (black) and also its tonal value (black is dark). But we must recognise that within the blackness there may be differing amounts of absorbed and reflected light that require us to draw changes of tone. Where these changes of tone are and how well they are seen is crucial to the depiction of the object's character, form and context.

Matching tonal values
In each drawing you make, you'll need to establish the lightest and the darkest tones and two or three "bridging tones". It is ve...y difficult to use more than four or five tones when using a single pencil, but each pencil will offer a different kind of tone and may be used in any combination (see table above). Try recreating this scale with your pencils. Look carefully at the four sets of patches of tone and use them as a matching reference for your drawings. This will ensure that your drawing has tonal contrast and is full of life.

Shading Shading is the placing of tone in a drawing. This usually means carefully filling in a range of smoothly graded, measured tones that direct the drawing towards a rather mechanical, photographic likeness. For some drawers this can become a habitual solution to all tonal problems, and - although useful in some instances - it should be thoughtfully considered and only used when appropriate to the overall language of your drawing.

Cross hatching A cross-hatched area of tone holds the eye's attention more or less statically in a net of criss-crossed lines. The closer the lines are to each other, the denser the tone. Cross-hatching can be used to flatten the space/tone, but the eye can sometimes have difficulty escaping the net to re...#8209;engage with the drawing.

Hatching When close parallel lines are made to describe tone, they have a directional emphasis that offers the eye a way in and out of the tonal area, and are generally preferable to cross-hatched marks. Tonal change can be described by increasing the spaces between the lines from darker, closer parallel lines to progressively lighter, more spread-out lines. They may also be used to inform the eye about the direction of surface planes, and express both the energy of light and of the hand that made them.

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