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The Best Tips for Black and White Drawings

Drawing in black and white can be an incredibly rewarding experience, especially if you have a variety of pens, pencils or markers on hand in order to create different effects. In fact, some of the most famous artists in history - including Rembrandt - are perhaps as best known for their etchings and drawings as their oil or acrylic masterpieces.

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With that in mind, here’s a closer look at some of the best tips for drawing better in black and white…

Draw small thumbnails before you start

While it might be exciting to dive in immediately with your drawing, it’s worthwhile to spend some time in advance, sketching out small thumbnails of key images or elements in your drawing. You can think of these as small notes for yourself to keep you on track and maintain an overall perspective. And, with these smaller thumbnails drawn, you will have a much better idea of how they will play into the look and feel of your final drawings.

Experiment with different types of pencil marks

Think of your pencil as a paintbrush rather than just a piece of graphite. In other words, experiment with different types of pencil marks, especially when it comes to shading. Get familiar with how the side of the pencil - and not just the point - can lead to different effects on paper. This is especially true if you are trying out new textures or drawing surfaces.

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Use the side of your pencil to keep your tip sharp

If you watch experienced artists, you will be pleasantly surprised at just how adept they are at using the entire pencil. In fact, in one YouTube video, a famous illustrator points out how he constantly uses the side of his pencil in order to keep the tip sharp. It’s like having an automatic pencil sharpener, in which you never lose the sharpness of your original point. In fact, you might find yourself using the tip of your pencil less than 20 percent of the time.

Use different varieties of pens and pencils

Not all pencils and pens are created alike. So spend some time experimenting with different varieties of pens and pencils. If you have 3-4 varieties of each, you can create some very interesting effects in your drawing.

Start out light and then go darker

Don’t go too dark too quickly. Start out with lighter marks on the paper, and then darken them over time. This will make it easier to erase parts of the drawing that aren’t working, or to highlight areas that look very good. If you’ve making thumbnail sketches along the way, you should have a very good idea of just how light or dark you can go from the beginning.

Control the blotches and smudges

The more time you spend on your black and white drawing masterpiece, the more potential there is to get unseemly blotches and smudges on the paper. So work out a method to control (and hopefully) eliminate those smudges. One technique is to continually roll your pen on a sheet of paper next to your drawing to get rid of ink blotches.

Once you’ve decided on a theme or concept for your next black and white drawing, it’s time to put these tips and best practices to work. You might just find yourself with some extraordinary new artwork that you can share with family and friends – or the entire world, if you upload images to Instagram.


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