Part 2: Project 5: Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone


In this charcoal and conté study of deer, the artist has taken a different approach, blocking in strong monochrome tone to create form and using loose, fine, unfinished lines to indicate the silhouette of the animal and just enough detail to make it interesting.

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - course notes image
Mark Adlington, Fallow Bucks, Richmond, 2006 (charcoal and conté on paper)

Using both line and tone can create a sense of volume and movement through space. For this exercise, you’re free to work in any combination of media. You can make a study that is monochrome or use colour to render tonal value or add visual interest. Using coloured sugar paper or Ingres paper will give you a mid-tonal ground and you can then use your drawing materials to establish lighter and darker tonal areas. Allow the paper’s ground colour to work in your drawing by leaving some areas clear or by shading lightly so that it shows through. Work on large paper so that you can explore tonal values freely. Remember to vary the pressure and speed of your lines to create a sense of dynamism or stillness, enhancing the stance, gestural posture and strength of the animal.


I needed to look no further than our garden and adjoining field for subject matter for this exercise – a roaming pheasant and strutting hens. I worked quickly to sketch down the main elements of the forms using colour brush pens and then worked them up in some more detail with regard to line and tone later on in the studio:

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - Live animals using line and tone - sketches 1
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – sketches 1

A trip out to the east coast cliffs allowed me the chance to capture a nesting cormorant, again quickly, this time using Artbar wax colour bars. I left this sketch in its original rough form. I sketched the local cow using Artbar as well, but this time back in the studio I used a fine brush and water to blend the colours:

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 - Live animals using line and tone - sketches 2
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – sketches 2

Finished drawing

I was struck by the energy and style of the strutting hen sketched earlier and decided on this as my chosen live animal. My medium this time though were Faber and Castell PITT artist pens on A3 Daler 90gsm sienna coloured Ingres pastel paper (the photograph of the drawing has lightened the paper):

Part 2 Project 5 Exercise - Live animals using line and tone - finished drawing
Part 2 Project 5 Exercise 3 – Live animals using line and tone – finished drawing

I lightly drafted in the outline using a cadmium yellow pen and then spent a happy couple of meditative hours building up the lines and tones using a range of coloured pens. Making small marks loosely with the pens allowed the paper’s colour to show through and merge with the different coloured strokes to suggest the texture of the plumage.


Once started on this exercise I became a bit less intimidated by the brief and had fun with the sketches and techniques of using the different media. I am reasonably pleased with the final drawing, although if I’m honest I prefer the original sketch for its spontaneity and dash – a hen with attitude. My feeling about the finished drawing is that it appears to me to be overly stylised and has lost some of the spark or verve of the sketch.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
5 August 2015