I have a question. I hope you don't mind. Do you put down a line drawing or anything before you start to lay in your color with color pencils? I have been putting a light line of graphite pencil in but it shows thru the color. I'm not sure I can just start without a pre-drawing.Thanks for the question J - and it's a good one.
You are in excellent company in needing to do a pre-drawing and in using a pencil. Many artists and draughtsmen use a pencil or some other erasable media for their initial drawing. Da Vinci used to ink over his initial chalk drawings (isn't it nice to know he needed a pencil drawing first as well?!) - and we know this because in some of his notebooks the only drawings that have lasted are the ones he inked in - the ones still in black chalk have faded and been rubbed away. He also created cartoons in black and red chalk which were then pricked to transfer the outline for a drawing to the surface for the painting. Van Gogh also inked over initial pencil drawings in producing his pen and ink drawings done using a reed pen.
I generally use a graphite pencil line before I start to use coloured pencils. My pencil of choice for this is a mechanical pencil with an HB lead. This is because I get a light and thin line and I don't need to worry about the graphite transferring to the colour pencil (unless I start using it to shade in the tonal values). I've included a photo of my Moleskine on the rocks at Pemaquid Point and my initial pencil outline - which you can then see developed further here.
If I use the pencil to produce tonal values then it influences how the CP looks - but this is not necessarily a negative. This sketch of the kitchen garden at Winston Churchill's home Chartwell, in Kent, illustrates what it can look like
In my sketches I also use pen and either black or sepia ink and, of course, this shows right through the coloured pencils, although the sepia ink is less obvious than the black.
In artwork which is intended to be a more finished drawing I also generally draw lightly with a pencil initially - and then I often erase it in the area I am working with coloured pencils. However this depends on the colour being used - if I know the area is going to be dark I quite often don't bother - but if it is going to be a light value then I will generally erase.
If I'm working on a coloured ground, then I might draw using a coloured pencil, usually a fairly light coloured one. On the left you can see an example of a very early stage in "A wall of ophioscorodon" where I've created a very basic 'thirds' grid and outlined the shape of the garlic bulbs in white coloured pencil before starting to lay down initial colours.
From my perspective, the answer to the questions of whether or not a pencil line should show through or not or whether this is a 'good thing' or not is that it is purely a question of individual choice by the artist concerned. It's essentially a question of what the artist wants to do and personal style. If you look closely at some artwork in watercolour or pastel by famous artists selling for many thousands of pounds/dollars, you can quite often see the pencil showing through - it's not regarded as a fault per se. Some people like to show the process they used to produce their art.
Personally I'm not that fussed about it - but I feel it also can depend on the subject and the degree of finish I'm trying to achieve.
What do other people think?
- Travels with a Sketchbook: Pemaquid Point Light - from top to bottom
- Making a Mark: A sketch of the Kitchen Garden at Chartwell
- Pastels and Pencils: Fruit, vegetables and eggs