Gamut of pencil strokes

Gamut of pencil strokes

Drawings by Steven Nielsen, Drawing Academy student


I was practicing shading and gamut of pencil strokes. Here’s Sarah’s portrait. I feel that I may have overdone this drawing.



I feel I need to work on my hatching skills. Either I am impatient, or I just hatch in a controlled chaos type of way.

I will be going to a local studio on Wednesdays soon for life model drawing, and I am a bit nervous about this as I am not the fastest drawer, but we shall see how this works out!

Again, thanks for your feedback on my works! I will try learn from and improve with all of your suggestions.


Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy Tutor

Hi Steven,

Many thanks for your drawings.

I like your pieces, they are very natural, and I’m sure they share a great likeness with the model. Well done!

When it comes to shading, there are few things you might want to consider:

1. Go easier on the outlines. If an outline isn’t pronounced on the model, make it soft in your drawing. For example, you don’t have to outline a particular contour of the mouth, like slightly darker lips, if it is a soft tone.

2. Apply pencil strokes along contours (do not confuse these with outlines). Every surface has an infinite number of contours in every direction. Think which direction will complement the drawing and reveal the three-dimensional nature of the object, and apply strokes there.

3. Create hair as large masses; you don’t have to depict every individual strand. A hairstyle has mass and volume, so you should treat it as a big object and try to depict its mass with light and shadow. If you do a very long study, later you may include smaller details.

4. You may find this post about drawing eyelashes useful:

Notice the quality of lines on the drawings in that post, as well as how the artists portrayed hair.

In regard to a life drawing class, set meaningful and achievable tasks.

I would suggest that you practice gesture drawing for shorter poses and constructive drawing together with human anatomy in longer ones. Do not concentrate on shading at all at this stage. You will benefit more from trying to ‘catch’ the model’s shape realistically rather than polish pencil hatching techniques.

life drawing

Don’t feel like you’re under pressure. Speed is not required here. Even if you make quick sketches (two- to five-minute poses), don’t rush! You will learn more from unfinished but accurate and thoughtful sketches instead of mindless scribbling in the hopes of depicting the complete pose or gradations of light and shadow.

For shorter poses, you may want to make small drawings (making several sketches on one piece of paper); you should use larger paper (for example A2) for 45+ minute drawings.

life drawing

Hope this helps.

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Categorized: Critique My Artworks

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. tometeacher says:

    Love the critique as it is overall educational to anyone who is a subscriber to Drawing Acadamy. I am always amazed on how much intellectual information is provided in these shared critiques. It is almost like having a modified class.
    Vladimir, thank you for these critiques and illustrations at times. They are quiet helpful

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