Charcoal and Pencil by J. D. Hillberry
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Step by Step Drawing Lesson #2

Title: White Bouquet
Size: 18" x 14"
Medium: Charcoal, Graphite and Carbon on White Paper

Still Life pencil drawing

Step One
To  begin with, I cut the subject shapes out of frisket and apply them to my white paper.  If you are unfamiliar with this masking technique here's a video that explains it:


After applying the fiisket,  I begin applying layers of charcoal to the background and blending with felt.  

Step Two:
Here I’ve begun adding texture to the background. I start by lightening several large masses with a chamois. This creates an area that appears to stick out from the background. Then, I add to this effect by picking out highlights on everything that is facing the light (upper left corner of the texture). The lower right corner of everything receives a cast shadow. There are small dark spots that were created when I blended with felt. I use these to make the holes by adding the highlights and shadows.

The left side of the background is close to being done. The right side is still waiting for my texture enhancements. I am including a close-up so you can see the texture more clearly. Once I start drawing the objects, the background can be toned down if it appears to busy. I won't know till I get there!


Step Three:
At this stage I have completed the basic values and texture of the background and added the same type of texture for the front of the ledge. I heightened the contrast to make the front pop forward from the background.

I have also sprayed it with fixative, pealed the frisket from the glass and started laying out the details of the wine glass. I cut out some little pieces of frisket to mask the main highlights in the glass. I could have used liquid frisket for this also.

Step Four (a):
I've continued to enhance the background texture and started on the glass by blending hb charcoal pencil with a stump and a chamois. I masked the brightest highlights with frisket. 
All of the values are subject to change at this point. I have to see how the values develop on the rest of the elements in the drawing before I start to balance everything out.

Step Four (b):
Since I invented the background, I needed to know how much of that texture would be visible through the glass and bottle so I set up my drawing behind them and took some photos. I've included one of those here.

Step Five:
I finished the glass (for now) and started on the bottle. I'm using carbon for the bottle to help it stand out from the charcoal background.  I have included a close-up of the bottle to show the texture that the carbon is creating.

While rendering the glass, I noticed that in order to get the contrast I want; I will have to darken the background on the left side. You will notice that the background is darker peering through the glass. This wont be the case when I'm done. I'm waiting until I'm closer to being finished to do that to keep it from messing up my highlights. As I said before, all the final value adjustments will be made after all the elements are in.

Bottle close-up

Step Six:
The wine bottle and label are done and I started working in the leaves. I also darkened the background on the left. to help the wine glass "pop" a little better.

Step Seven:
The basics values are done on the rose head. I will have to darken the basic values once the bottle's cast shadow is in place directly behind the rose. That’s the last step and its next!

The final step involves pumping up the contrasts as much as possible. I go over the darkest areas again with charcoal. I have to be very careful to keep my the white areas clean at this stage. I usually put the drawing away for a few days and then come back for these final adjustments. 

My goal is extreme realism. When you only have black, white, and shades of gray to work with, you must make use of the entire range of values that your media is capable of to make that possible.. 

The composition as it relates to values:
I want to explain a little bit about my thought process behind the composition. I always try to plan ahead in my work to make sure I can maximize the available contrast. In other words, if I want something to look white, it's much easier to place it adjacent to something dark.

The flower head was deliberately placed in front of the cast shadow of the bottle to make it appear whiter and to give me a wider value range to work with when I rendered the petal details.

The background is darker on the left to help make the glass "pop" more. It also helps balance the dark values of the cast shadows on the right. 


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