For centuries, people have been working with the graphite and clay mixture of pencils in order to create art. Depending on the ratio of the mixture, pencils can be created with different degrees of hardness. More clay gives the pencil lead greater strength, and more graphite leads to a darker abrasion. If you want to learn more about pencils, take a look here. But when do you choose one degree of hardness instead of another? If you want to learn how to use them via a specific example, then you’ve come to the right place.
Florian Erb, also known as lazy.arts, explains how you can use different degrees of hardness to draw a portrait.
Step 2: Draw the eyes, nose, and mouth
Keep the shapes simple and avoid applying pressure to the paper when drawing. Use triangles, circles, and ellipses to depict the respective parts of the face. At this stage, we are not interested in the details yet. The best way to do this is to use the pencil with the HB degree of hardness. Afterwards, you can erase your guidelines. You don’t need them anymore.
In this step, you give your proportional drawing a personality. Pay attention to the details here. Are the eyebrows bushier or finely shaped? Are the lips plump or on the thin side? Observe these details carefully as they determine the character of your drawing. Both the HB as well as the B pencil are suitable for this step. With the higher graphite content, you’ll create the initial shadows.
Step 5: Erase highlights
If you went beyond the lightest parts of your drawing while shading, just use the eraser to uncover them so that the white paper is completely visible again. For example, on the tip of the nose or on the lips. This gives it a special effect. Grab a compass and round off your artwork with a circle as a design element. Make sure that a part of the figure extends beyond the circle. That will make your drawing perfect.
Tip: In a portrait, it’s the eyes that serve as the most expressive element. Thus, make sure they are the darkest part of your whole drawing.
- Florian Erb
Florian is a creative all-round talent and is particularly interested in art and design. He originally trained as a stage and theater painter and now works as a freelance artist in the areas of mural painting, street art, and illustration. For his large-format projects, he first creates a draft sketch for each client – the MONO pencils from Tombow are ideally suited for this.