My process for an editorial assignment, from sketch to final - Part 2

And here is part two of my process for an editorial assignment. In this part I will show how I work out a drawing, how I add more detail and shading. I will also explain what kind of drawing tools I use and why. It will be hard for me to actually give you a drawing class trough a post like this, because most of my drawing skills have come from years of studying, but I can explain how I use my tools and explain my process a bit.


Part 1 can be read here.

Part 3 can be read here.

I drew the illustration on A3 sized, 224 grams Bristol board. I prefer working on thicker paper with a very smooth surface. With this paper it's almost like drawing on plastic, which for me is perfect. My lines are sharp and smooth and they don't smudge so much, unless I want them to. Also my ink (from fine liners and markers) does not bleed at all. I feel in control of my tools using this paper. I've used a lot of different types of papers over the years, starting out with very cheap paper. I never thought the type of paper you use was very important until I tried a lot of different types and noticed there was indeed a big difference between papers.


Below is a picture of all the tools I used for this drawing. From left to right the picture shows: A smudger, some random fan-shaped brush, a grey pastel pencil, 2B and 8B pencils, a HB mechanical pencil, an eraser pencil and a kneadable eraser.

The Mechanical Pencil

I think it's quite obvious what the mechanical pencil is for; it's for drawing! I use it for the line work and most of the shading. The mechanical pencil is very useful because I prefer working with a very sharp tip so with this pencil I don't have to sharpen the tip every 5 seconds. Just click and draw. I also use this pencil to draw the hair, small details and extra fine shading. This is basically my main tool, I use it 80% of the time when I'm drawing.


So when I start a new drawing, I first lightly sketch out a composition on paper and then I go over the rough lines with this pencil to draw the final lines. I press the tip harder and softer to get a varied playful line. This is quite hard to explain, I do this by feeling and don't really have a set of rules for it. I think it just takes a lot of practice and trying out what feels right for you. But I can tell you that if you make all the lines the same shade and width, they feel dull. Especially with pencil lines.

Here are some shots to show my working process some more. As you can see I just jump from one area to the next, working on bits that I feel need to be worked out more. I start out quite lightly and slowly make the lines and shades darker. I do this mostly by gut feeling and looking at the reference from time to time. For this drawing I just used a light source which came from the front, as if someone made a photo with a soft flash, so the shading is quite simple.

As you can see I change a lot of details while working out a drawing. Sometimes I work out a drawing and just don't like the first expression for example, so I erase and change things around while also working out other area's. And if a certain area feels to empty I sometimes add extra details, like the tattoos on this girl.

2B and 8B Pencils

The other pencils, 2B and 8B, are for shading. I used them a lot for the moon in this drawing. I like how you can shade big areas fast and smudgy with these pencils. The 2B pencil is great for very light shading and finer lines, while the 8B pencil is great for very dark and deep shades. It also smudges a lot, so I use this when I want some details to be more blurry.


Also, sometimes my mechanical pencil, which is HB, doesn't give me dark enough lines. I use the 8B pencil to go over them one extra time to make the shading deeper if I feel it's needed.

The Erasers

And now we reach the first mysterious object, the pencil eraser. This is basically an eraser in the shape of a pencil. You can also sharpen it like a pencil. This tool does not draw white lines, but it's very useful to erase parts that I've already shaded to add little white accents. I used it for the craters in the moon and to add extra speed lines around the owl.

So I use this tool to erase pencil lines and to make highlights. It's also useful to erase small details or little mistakes which are hard to erase with the kneadable eraser. The kneadable eraser is a lot more pudgy and rough, which is actually great for lightly fading some areas. But what I'm basically trying to explain is that erasers are not just for correcting your mistakes, you can also "draw" with them.

The Pastel Pencil

I don't have this pencil for very long yet, so I'm still trying it out a lot and figuring out the possibilities. But for this drawing I just used it to add some extra shades of grey. Pastel pencils are great for very light and soft coloring/shading and it's easy to slowly fade out to white with them. I just roughly jot down some grey and then go over the lines with a smudger to give it a more refined shape and blur it out to the shade I want. You can even go over it with a darker pastel or pencil afterwards to make some areas darker.

The Smudger

I use a smudger on the pastels because they are very messy and cover your hands with all kinds of colors in no time. I don't want to wash my hands every 5 seconds or smudge my entire drawing, so a tool for the smudging is very useful. It also has a finer tip than your finger, so you can smudge more precisely.

By the way, I didn't draw the clouds in the background with the pastel pencil. Somehow a normal 2B pencil seemed to work best for this. I just jotted down some very light lines to outline the clouds and rubbed it out with my finger. Your fingers are better to use in this case because here I did want it to be very blurry and "messy". I didn't need the graphite to have a certain refined, solid shape. So I didn't need to use the smudger for this.

The Random Fan-Shaped Brush

Somehow my friends always seem intrigued by this tool, but really it's just a random make-up brush I found somewhere. I use it to brush away the excess graphite covering the paper. When you draw little bits of graphite crumble off the tip of your pencils. And because I work on very smooth paper with almost no texture, the excess graphite doesn't settle in the paper but just lies on top of it. Then if you go over it with your hand it smudges. I hate this, so I softly brush my paper from time to time while I'm drawing.

And that's it! This is how I made this drawing, hope it was useful to read about the process. I think this took about a day to draw in total. Although I spread it out over two days because I was also working on other projects in between.


In the next part I will show how I scanned, edited and colored this illustration. But that's for next week, when the final illustration is approved by the art director.

You can read part one of this post here: Part 1



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+1 #3 Elseline 2011-02-06 10:20
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+1 #2 Erwin Kho 2011-02-04 17:28
Thanx for the tip on the pencil eraser- never thought about using it in that way. I should try it out.
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