I’ve had my new Tombow MONO Drawing Pencils for several weeks now. If you’ve been following along on my art journey, you’ll remember my initial thoughts about buying them. Did I really deserve professional quality drawing pencils?
Maybe. Maybe not. But I felt I deserved something for the long hours of drawing practice I put in over the summer, so I bought the pencils, and I’m very pleased with them.
But what does one do with a nice set of professional quality drawing pencils? If you’re someone like me, someone who’s only now learning to draw, you sharpen a few of those pencils and have fun playing around with them.
I’m not qualified to give a thorough review of the pencils, but I can share a little information about them.
From the Tombow website:
“Professional quality drawing pencils are crafted with the highest quality materials. Extra-refined, high density graphite encased in premium hard cedar wood. Perfectly centered lead core adhered throughout entire woodcase, making pencil break resistant and ensures even sharpening. Progressive degrees range from 6B – 4H. Easily erase graphite pencil marks with the included light touch plastic eraser. Set includes 12 pencils, plastic eraser and pencil sharpener.”
The set contains 12 degrees: 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B and 6B
I do like the pencils. I can tell that they’re higher-quality than the inexpensive drawing pencils I’ve used before, and I am looking forward to using this set.
Getting my new pencils seemed like a perfect time to start anew with graphite drawing and work once again on basic techniques. So back to the how-to-draw books I went, right back to the essential elements of art.
In addition to my little “Circle of Lines” illustration, I played around with space/negative space, creating textures, and shading techniques for different values. Although colored graphite is available, I’m keeping my basic practice studies to a few shades of gray, and I used my Tombow pencils to make a graphite value scale.
Each morning — after a few moments of mindfulness and meditation — I sit down at my drawing table and make a few simple illustrations. I’ve done birds — like the paloma blanca for our September Draw-a-Bird day — fishes, bunnies, and more. These aren’t highly realistic drawing. They’re just simple line drawings with a minimum of shading, and that in itself is one of the things I enjoy most about graphite. It can be so very simple.
Graphite drawings, of course, can be highly detailed, but as a morning “let’s get started” exercise, a few simple little line drawings or scribbles makes for a great way to start the day.
Some people do calisthenics every morning. I do art exercises. Here are a few ideas:
- Create a graphite value scale. Sure, you’ve probably done it before, but can we ever do this too much? It’s a great warm-up exercise before doing detailed graphite drawings.
- Play around with creating textures. Can you create believable fur? Hair? Wood? How many different textures can you make with your graphite pencils?
- Practice making basic geometric shapes. Draw simple squares, circles, and try one of those dreaded ellipses. Make rectangles, triangles, hearts and stars.
- Make a few organic shapes. Squiggle, scribble, and play. Drawing really can be fun!
- Practice line quality — as I did in the illustration above. We can have solid lines or broken lines, thick lines, thin lines, light lines, dark lines, and lots of combinations thereof!
- Go back to shapes and turn them into forms. Use shading techniques to make spheres from your circles. Turn your simple square into a box. Take your organic shapes and turn them into weird forms, as well.
- Have fun making simple line drawings.
- Create patterns and designs using the various elements of art.
Here’s one little practice piece I put together using simple shapes, texture, and value.
I’m quite happy with my new drawing pencils, and I enjoy limbering up my drawing muscles with my morning exercises.
How do you warm up before drawing and painting?