How to make the chiaroscuro. Here is one of the most frequently asked questions among budding designers: how to make chiaroscuro? How to bring out the shapes and the relief of the drawn figures? How to make an effective chiaroscuro, which moves away from the beginners’ slightly dirty and chaotic results?
Today we will see how to make chiaroscuro, or rather, how to improve your technique. First, we will start with a list of the drawing accessories you will need (very few). Then we will move on to identify the most common mistakes of beginners (and not only) who try their hand at chiaroscuro. Finally, we will teach you to step by step how to approach this fundamental technique of drawing ideas.
What is chiaroscuro?
We will not waste too much time with the theory: chiaroscuro is a technique that allows you to give your drawings the illusion of three-dimensionality by defining the areas of light and areas of shadow. The nuances that are created in a drawing determine its depth. Without a good chiaroscuro, a drawing – or a painting – can only remain two-dimensional, and therefore flat!
What you need to practice chiaroscuro
What drawing accessories will you need to enhance your chiaroscuro? Undoubtedly we start with pencils. In itself, to learn chiaroscuro, it would be enough to have a soft pencil at hand, such as a 4B. By varying the level of pressure and the frequency of the sign, as we will see later, it will be possible to achieve good results, as it would also be possible to do with charcoal.
Indeed, however, a designer has every interest in learning how to make a perfect chiaroscuro with several pencils, with different levels of hardness, to reach a vast range of light and dark. We, therefore, recommend that you have at least two pencils handy, one soft and one hard, and then move on to practice with three or even four pencils.
You will then need some drawing paper. It can be both smooth and textured reports, although the results will be different. With smooth paper, you will have a complete and precise shade, but touch the sheet with the palm of your hand to ruin the design – at least before setting with the spray. With a coarser grain, the shadows will be less precise, but undoubtedly the drawing will be immediately more resistant.
How to do the chiaroscuro the mistakes not to make
The first rule of chiaroscuro is to avoid sharp jumps unless you retract edges where the shadow is strong and well-defined. The shading you will have on a face, on an apple, on a vase, or a billiard ball will instead be sweet, progressive, and continuous. So it is not for nothing that we talk about shades, with a series of intermediate tones between dark and light.
Draw heavy contour lines
Heavy lines must eliminate in the contours. It is because the chiaroscuro, by itself, already creates our outline, defining the limit of the figures. The system made with a heavy line, on the other hand, compromises the three-dimensionality of the final design. If you find that you have drawn too heavy contour lines despite everything, we recommend that you intervene with the gum pane.
Make pencil marks that are too visible
Most often, the shadows drawn by beginners are chaotic. What does it mean? Creating a cloud, creating a dark area, means passing and often brushing a pencil over the same place. However, the problem is that this plot, in the drawings of budding artists, remains evident even at the end of the work, with the pencil strokes evident and disturbing.
A shadow, however, must not be made from a set of vertical, horizontal, and oblique lines to create an effect of chaos precisely. On the contrary, it should be a homogeneous, complete, and therefore vibrant area. Thus, the hand should always move in the same direction to keep the stroke always the same.
Draw lines that are too long
Another widespread mistake is to draw very long lines, definitely too long. Let’s assume that an area of shadow (for example, to the side of a face in a portrait in the foreground) extends for about a quarter of the width of the sheet. The beginner, by instinct, out of laziness and a still incomplete education in the drawing, will be tempted to cover that whole area with pencil marks that extend the entire length, from side to side, back and forth. But in doing so, the sign cannot be well controlled, with variable pressures and directions, thus denying an underlying unity in our chiaroscuro from the very beginning. Better, however, to use shorter, even concise, more controllable strokes. It will be more complex, slower, but more effective!
How to make chiaroscuro: tips
As mentioned, let’s start by drawing very light outlines using a hard pencil with minimal pressure. Then, once our draft has been removed, it will be possible, to begin with, the chiaroscuro.
An excellent rule is that – for those who draw with the right – to start from the upper left part of the drawing, to proceed to the right and downwards. In this way, the palm of our hand will not pass over the details already drawn, avoiding dirtying the sheet.
But sooner or later – for example – it will be necessary to go back to the left for the finishing touches. Hence, it becomes essential to keep a sheet of paper under the palm to avoid contact between skin and graphite. So how do you make chiaroscuro? We start with a hard pencil to define areas of shadow that are not excessively dark; to obtain more decidedly black shades, a softer pencil will use instead. As mentioned, the trick to having a homogeneous shadow is to make short strokes and in the same direction.
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