Project – Detailed observation

Exercise – Line drawing detail

Using a black fibre-tipped pen, I drew a leek.

Line drawing detail

I found it hard to resist the temptation to add tone and shadows to the image. The image is OK, but without tone and shadow it is not going to get much better!

Exercise – Getting tone and depth in detail

Conscious of my tutor feedback from assignment 1, I was particularly focusing on trying to vary the weight and intensity of my lines, use longer and more controlled lines, and ensure that I didn’t mix my tonal drawing with an outline drawing.

Detailed Observation

As with my still life of man-made objects in assignment 1, I did this drawing over a period of time and it shows. The style of the branch to the left and right of the section of bark is different as it was done on different days. I need to watch out for this in future drawings and either do all of the same type of textured areas at the same time, or observe what I have done previously more closely before starting again.

I think the right hand side of the branch works well, but the shadow on the left hand side is too abrupt and the lines too regular. I think the dark shadow mostly works, although I was too hard with my hatching initially on the right hand side of the shadow and changed to a lighter hatching after that, which shows. The boundary between the shadow areas is also too abrupt. Unfortunately I sprayed the image with fixative before I noticed some of these faults!

I think the key lessons are to keep looking more and more in depth at the object you are drawing, and also to step back from the drawing occasionally to see how it fits together.

Exercise – Stipples and Dots

I chose a fossil to draw, sketched it roughly in pencil, and then set about getting the detail using a drawing pen.

Stipples and dots

As you can see, I only got part way through this image. It was very time consuming and I realised that I had got the initial rough sketch wrong, and the next ring in was going to be bigger than the one before, it which obviously wasn’t right, so I quit whilst I was ahead (ish)!

I think the use of stippling gives an interesting effect, but it is difficult to get the tone and shadows to look right. I think the transition between the shadow on the fossil is too abrupt in my image. I also need to ensure any initial sketch is accurate before starting out with the pen as it is too late then to correct significant mistakes.

Research Point

Find drawings by two artists who work in contrasting ways: from tight, rigorous work to a more sketchy, expressive style.

Albrecht Dürer

1471 to 1528

Albrecht Dürer came from a German family of artists. His father was a goldsmith in Nuremberg and he initially trained under him before deciding that he wanted to be a painter. He was then indentured to the painter Michael Wolgemut. After this apprenticeship, he travelled throughout Germany and to the Netherlands to learn about the art of these areas, eventually establishing himself in Basle. He returned to Nuremburg in 1494 to marry Agnes Frey and settled back there permanently the following year after spending some time travelling in Italy.

He was a drawer, painter, printmaker and writer. His work is incredibly detailed and precise and stands the test of time, which is no doubt why he is often considered the greatest of all German artists.

I have picked out 4 images which fit with the theme of this section which are shown below:

Hands of an Apostle

A drawing of an apostle’s hands in prayer, carried out as preparatory work for an altarpiece commission.

The Rhinoceros

A woodcut of a Rhinoceros, based on a sketch and description.

Wing of a Blue Roller

Head of a Roe deer

Schmidt-Rottluff, Karl


Schmidt-Rottluff was also a German painter and printmaker, however he was supporter of Expressionism and has a very different style to Dürer. Following his friend Erich Heckel into architecture school in Dresden, they used this as a front to study painting. With Enrich they founded Die Brücke, a group of artists painting vital art which renounced the traditions of the time. The group eventually broke up in 1914 as the members moved away from each other in both location and style.

His work uses freely drawn lines to represent the images in a very simplified form.

I have selected 4 images which are shown below:

Allee, 1952 – Coloured chalks and pencil

Liegender Akt, 1913 – brush and ink on yellow paper

Landschaft – watercolour and brush and India ink on paper

Self Portrait, 1914 – woodcut


Oxford Art Online:

Bridgeman Education:

Check and Log

Which drawing media did you find most effective to use, for what effects?

  • I find the drawing pen effective for detailed work, but find it difficult to show light texture as it is a solid black. The pencil is much more effective for gradations of tone and the different hardness’s allow for a wide range of different marks and tonal values to be captured.

What sort of marks work well to create tone, pattern and texture? Make notes beside some sample marks.

  • Hatching works well to create tone, whereas this is hard to achieve with stippling. Pattern and texture can be achieved with stippling or hatching, depending on the effects required.

Did you enjoy capturing details or are you more at home creating big broad brush sketches?

  • I am far more at home with detailed drawing, although I do want to explore the broad brush approach more in my work.

Look at the composition of the drawings you have done in this project. Make some sketches and notes about how you could improve your composition.

  • This is tricky as all the drawings in this project are of single objects, so they don’t offer much in the way of alternative composition. I did move them all around at the time to try to capture their best angle. The only one I feel could benefit from being rearranged is the leek which is a bit boring being just side on. Not having a leek to hand now, I have not done any sketches on how it could be improved, but an angled view from the base up may be more effective, although without adding tone and shadows to this, it might look a bit odd?
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