Part 2: Project 3: Exercise 3 – Detail and tone


In this exercise you’ll practise building up dark, medium and light tones, principally using pencils and hatching and cross-hatching techniques. Select another single object such as a shell or a piece of driftwood. Get a varied effect by combining soft and medium grade pencils and altering the direction of the strokes you make. This is time-consuming but can produce great results.

Use smooth A3 paper and a variety of soft pencils. Use a putty rubber to lift out the smallest highlights at the end (but don’t over-use this tool). Lightly sketch in the outlines of the objects. Then screw up your eyes and identify the darkest areas. Begin to hatch in the dark areas in different parts of the drawing. Make sure you work all around the drawing so that you can compare the tones of different areas of the drawing. Seek out the patterns and really focus on making them key aspects of the drawing.

Introduce contrast into your drawing. Make sure you have areas of strong darks with deep cross-hatching, and other areas that are very light in tone, as well as variety in types of mark, direction of mark, continuous line and broken line.

Constantly review your drawing by stepping back from it. Ask yourself if you have sufficient contrasts and variation in mark, and whether you’re filling the paper in an interesting and effective way.

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 3 course note image
Leyla Bilsborough, Peppers (showing a range of tones in cross hatching)


On a weekend out on the East Sutherland coast we spent a day on the beach at Brora, dog playing on the sand and in the North Sea – chasing waves and generally having a rare old time. I had noticed this decaying wooden stump of a beach pole on a previous visit and decided that it would make an ideal subject for this exercise.

I spent the day lightly sketching in the outline and beginning to mark in the various colours and tones of the shape of the stump and the surrounding seaweed swirls on the sandy surface with a variety of coloured pencils – until the incoming tide meant a hasty retreat.

When I got back home and looked at the A3 sheet of smooth paper again I washed in the bluish/green background and then started to try and pick out some of the shadows, darks and highlights.

I used many different directions of cross-hatching, but still didn’t seem to catch striking contrasts in the drawing.

Apart form the shape of the stump, I tried to focus on the curved/eaten out sea patterns of the wood, the dark hole in the stump on the left, the darker fracture lines running down the stump, the weaving lines and shapes of the kelp and the stones in the foreground.

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 3 - Detail and tone draft
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 3 – Detail and tone draft

I left the drawing overnight and when I returned to it the next morning it looked to me like a washed up parcel wrapped in chains!

More work required.

Today, 15th June, I returned to the drawing and began the fairly laborious process of trying to bring the image into life. I over cross-hatched areas with different colours of pencils and did my best to add darker and mid-tones as well as using a malleable rubber to remove some of the colour to create spots of highlight.

I am in no doubt that I could have kept on at this process of adding darker marks and colours until the whole drawing was totally overworked. So, where and when do you stop?

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 3 - Detail and tone
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 3 – Detail and tone

I’m not that happy with this exercise as it turned out. Maybe it is because I Haven’t really managed to capture the 3D-ness of the stump and the seaweed.

But then, considering the kind of mark making I have used, with cross-hatching and random marks of varying kinds, colours and intensity, it is hardly surprising that the overall effect is one of flatness.


Before you move on, review your work for this project and make some notes in your learning log.

• Which drawing media did you find most effective to use for which effects?

• What sort of marks work well to create tone, pattern and texture? Make notes in your sketchbook beside some sample marks. This will prove useful as you continue your journey as an artist.

• Look at the composition of the drawings you’ve done in this project. Make some sketches and notes about how you might create more interesting compositions.

In this project (3 – Detailed observation of natural objects) I have found that markers and dip pens have provided me with the best medium to create boldness and vibrancy in my drawing. Their versatility and blending capabilities have been the most enjoyable to work with.

The detail and simple line of Exercise 2 provided an opportunity to experiment with line in some interesting and unexpected ways. I was quite apprehensive when I started this exercise, but soon found myself loosening up and enjoying a fair degree of random ‘scribbling’! I think the black fibre-tip pen worked well in capturing the tone, pattern and texture of the ‘ice cream’ coconut shells.

The hardest medium I have used in this exercise is the coloured pencil. I have not mastered it at all yet. I find blending difficult and some of my cross-hatching has not been that effective and at times a bit crude.

Having said all that I am reasonably happy with the three exercise compositions. I am sure that they all could be improved in terms of placement on the drawing surface. Looking back, I now think that my idea sketch 3 for Exercise 1 makes a better compositional arrangement as it has more depth and is less flat looking
than my chosen composition.

Part 2 Project 3 - review
Part 2 Project 3 – Sketchbook review notes

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
16 July 2015


Part 2: Project 3: Exercise 2 – Detail and simple line


Select a natural object with interesting detail and, using a black fibre-tipped pen or a similarly ‘non-expressive’ tool (i.e. where the line does not change in width easily) create a simple line drawing on a sheet of A4 paper. Take the time and effort to really look at the patterning, thickness of line, texture and shape before drawing, as well as considering how best to fit the form into the rectangular sheet of paper. Composition will help you create an interesting image. Position the subject so that the rectangle is worked effectively. Don’t leave a huge expanse of empty space around it. Where necessary, add a few marks and lines to position it within a believable environment.

Concentrate on the object and, as far as possible, do a continuous line drawing. Try not to lift your pen from the paper – this exercise is meant to make you aware of your ability to make a simple line flow across the space of the paper, creating the impression of three dimensions.

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 2 course note image
OCA student, Vivien Kay Wood


Three coconut ice cream shells (the ice cream was fab) and they were natural shells. The shell at the front-left almost looked like a hedgehog-type shape with eyes tilted up towards the empty shells, one sitting within the other. – is this my future? I used a fibre-tip pen as suggested which did present a fairly consistent width of line. Where differences appear these are due to lighter or heavier touch of the pen to paper as well as hatching effects, but basically the line width remains the same. A nice pen to work with, and cheap from ‘United Office’ (for kids!). I did do my best to flow the line across the paper, although I admit it was lifted briefly to move to other parts of the composition as I tried to deal with the whole arrangement as one, rather than separate parts. The shadows could maybe have been more delicately worked, but I am pleased with the way the shells turned out and think they sit realistically in their space.

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 2 - Detail and simple line
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 2 – Detail and simple line

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
13 July 2015

Part 2: Project 3: Exercise 1 – Using markers or dip pens


Line drawings made with pen are very direct but unalterable. However, the strong marks that the pen makes should encourage a bold approach and the opportunity to exploit the brilliance of colour makes the medium exciting. There’s a certain amount of unpredictability with dip pens. Make the most of these marks; don’t think of them as mistakes, but as alternative ways of seeing and mark-making. Allow blobs and blotches to happen and use them.

The ink in marker pens is transparent and you can mix colours on paper by laying one colour on top of the other from light to dark. As you work, you’ll find the colour mixes on the paper but take care to avoid building up too many layers and using too many different colours. Also avoid damaging the surface of the paper through overworking.

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 course note image
Student drawing, Shirley Ann Leslie, Still life using marker pens

The medium works best when you exploit its artificiality (as opposed to mimicking ‘natural’ colour), for example when your idea requires a hyper-real visual effect. So consider which objects require an overly saturated colour and strong harsh lines.

You might want to think about ‘kitsch’, Pop art, cartoons and other genres that embrace unreality, replicas, imitation and so on. You might also think about how some images or parts of an image seem deliberately ‘flat’ (for example the Caulfield image discussed in Part One). You might also think about using found supports – pages from magazines, the cover of an old book, a large envelope with address, stamp, etc., still attached (and so on).

Work out at least three alternative compositions for your objects and other material, and test colour combinations in your sketchbook. Use a collection of markers with different sized fibre tips, from fine points to wedge shapes. Choose a variety of colours in different tonal values – some light, such as lemon yellow, and some with more intense colour, such as a deep warm yellow. Pick some vibrant coloured inks and have ready a couple of different widths of nibs for your dip pens. Try using both media together. Once you’ve tested a few compositional possibilities, select the one you feel works best and recreate it on an A4 or A3 sheet (or similar size depending on whether you use a found surface).


For this exercise I chose collected sea shells and in this first sketch idea arranged them on top of a bunch of dried out/dead seaweed. I wanted to try and capture the shapes and colours of all three shells, and particularly the pink open mouth of the gastropod shell at the front. The Letraset Pro markers allowed for a certain amount of blending, but I found it quite tricky to control and found myself using my finger a fair bit to help the blending process. Having said that I am reasonably happy with the finished composition and overall result:

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Using markers or dip pens - sketch 1
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Using markers or dip pens – sketch 1

OK, I went a bit on the edge here with this next idea sketch. But I took the course notes to heart and looked for what I saw as an appropriate found support. Something about The Great Wave of Kanagawa about to overwhelm the pretty arrangement of found sea shells and probably scatter them to the oceans appealed to me. The simplified Japanese painting style and the sweeping lines seemed to me to support my floating arrangement. The fact that the shell arrangement fitted into the space in front of Mt Fuji was done deliberately for compositional reasons as I saw the whole picture – a temporary placing on the waves, on the fishing boat, soon to be disrupted/destroyed – or maybe not. The German manufactured brushpens I used soaked into the ink jet paper and needed a few applications to become a bit more vibrant. Using the bamboo dip pen and calligraphy ink helped to pick out the forms and hold the whole together:

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Using markers or dip pens - sketch 2
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Using markers or dip pens – sketch 2

Idea sketch three has a lighter feel and I think this is partly down to the better blending abilities of the Uni POSCA marker pens compared to the Letraset pens. I changed the composition here to look inside one half of the larger bivalve shell. The sketchpad paper was covered with a clear water wash before applying the marker pens with the effect that the paper became and remains buckled, which I think adds a background design effect that sort of represents a cloudy horizon floating above a random beach collection washed in by the tide?

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Using markers or dip pens - sketch 3
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Using markers or dip pens – sketch 3

Final drawing

Here I chose a found surface of a cut-off from a roll of bamboo wallpaper that I found in a charity shop. Returning to the first idea sketch I slightly rearranged the shells to show the opening between the two halves of the bivalve shell and moving the front gastropod shell a bit further left. The bamboo paper ground was washed over with Uni POSCA marker pens several times and allowed to dry before drawing in the shells, again with marker pens. I then stuck a few pieces of dried out seaweed on top of the ground and I think that this along with the yellow leaf of bamboo that lifted off of the paper accidentally give an added sense of depth to the composition. To finish the drawing I used a .70 and 1.0 Rotring isograph pen to ‘scratch’ black ink into the dried marker pen colours and provide a bit of extra definition to the shell shapes:

Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 - Using markers or dip pens - finished composition
Part 2 Project 3 Exercise 1 – Using markers or dip pens – finished composition


I enjoyed using the marker pens in this exercise, my favourite being the Uni POSCA variety due to their vibrant colour and blending abilities. I also found it interesting and challenging to use different grounds other than sketch book paper and I particularly liked using the bamboo wallpaper with it roughish texture. My use of dip pens was a bit hit and miss, but I feel the isograph pen ‘scratches’ in the finished drawing are effective. This exercise kept up the momentum for me of taking risks and experimenting with ideas, composition arrangements and mark making – this is what makes it all fun.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
12 July 2015