What Is "Sketch"?
by Shriliene Ogan, 2005
Sketch: A simple, rough drawing or design, done rapidly and without much detail.
Sketch Book: a book of drawing paper for making sketches.
Sketchy: Having the form of a sketch; presenting only major parts; not detailed; lacking completeness; rough.
Kinds of Sketches:
- Thumbnail sketch
- Value sketch
- Color sketch
- Compositional sketch
- A FUN SKETCH
Who Can Sketch:
- Any Artist: Skill level may be minimal or advanced. Sketching is as unique as one's own handwriting.
THERE ARE NO RULES!
- Just for the fun of it
- To improve observation skills
- To improve drawing skills (draw fountain figures to improve drawing the human figure â€” they hold still for as long as you need)
- Experiment with different drawing tools and techniques
- It's personal, can be private
- A sketch may be the beginning of a great painting
- It's a good source of reference material
- It can help to get you out of a painter's block
- When others see you sketching, it adds to your creditability as an artist. Also, others realize that a sketch is NOT A FINISHED DRAWING, so, you as an artist has the freedom to do what you want.
- It is a great "ice-breaker" in drawing in public and meeting people.
- Sketching may be a visual journal only, or may include a short written description of objects, places and etc. Sketching allows the artist to recall a scene or moment more vividly than a photo can, because in order to sketch it, you are seeing it line-by-line, detail-by-detail, and taking the time to record it.
Basic Tools for Sketching
- A blank book of drawing paper or watercolor paper. Spiral-bound is preferred, so that it lays flat. A 6" x 9" is a good size to capture an image.
- A no. 2 pencil
- Ink pens
- Colored pencils
- A small watercolor box
More Tools for Sketching:
- Pencils: The no. 2 pencil is the most common. Others come in varying degrees of hardness: the 6B pencil is the softest; the HB falls in the mid-range; and the 6H is the hardest. Hard pencils are good for detailed drawings. Pencils in the B range are softer and can create darker darks.
- Mechanical Pencils: These never need sharpening and come in various sizes, 0.5mm or larger. These are great for line work, but hard to produce toned areas. Can be used somewhat like an ink pen.
- Flat pencils: Sometimes called carpenter's pencils. These are versatile in that they can cover large areas and make a variety of marks for sketching.
- Colored Pencils: These can be used alone or with ink drawings. They are convenient in that no water is required.
- Watercolor pencils: These can be used like colored pencils. However, if a drop of moisture lands on the drawing, it will mar it. If using the pencils with water, they can produce a watercolor-like effect.
- Charcoal: Probably one of the first tools used for sketching. These come in a variety of choices â€” vine, stick, round, octagonal or square bars, and in pencil form. They are available in soft, medium or hard. Since charcoal smears easily, one needs to take extra steps to keep the drawing clean, as well as the artist.
Ink Pens for Sketching:
- Dip pens: A flexible nib produces a variety of line work and makes for an interesting drawing. Line work and cross-hatching are the traditional means with this tool. India ink is a good, dark black ink. If using a watercolor wash, make sure the ink is waterproof.
- Pre-filled ink pens: These come in a variety of point sizes. As in the above, make sure it is waterproof if wanting to use a watercolor wash over the drawing. There are three techniques in producing areas of tone or shadows: stippling (dots to create tone), hatching (tone is produced with parallel lines), and cross-hatching (darker tones are produced by layers of parallel lines applied at angles to one another).
Kinds of Paper:
- Watercolor pads and/or blocks, 140 lb. cold press. Best for pen & ink with watercolor washes.
- Sketchbooks: The paper in these books range from 140 lb. to 90, 80, 70, and 60 lb. All can take pen & ink, pencil or watercolor. If the paper is lighter than these, pencil is best as the ink and watercolor may soak or bleed through. Also, the lighter weights buckle when wet.
- Bristol Board: This heavy-weight paper is usually used
for illustrations. It comes in 2 sizes:
- Plate or smooth (hot press) heavyweight surface. It is good for detailed ink work. Watercolor can be applied, but it will "puddle" on this paper.
- Vellum: This heavyweight paper has a medium finish and lightly textured. It is good for pencil, pastel, charcoal, as well as pen & ink. When using pen & ink and/or watercolor, caution is needed since "bleeding" can occur.
- Sketchbooks: Spiral-bound; all white and/or with colored paper.
- Watercolor Blocks: Usually small sizes, 9x12 and postcard size.
- Watercolor: Small set of pan watercolors.
- Waterproof Ink Pens: MICRON, set of 6 pens in different point sizes. Make a simple "chart" to determine point size to use.
- Watercolor Pencils and/or Crayons: KARAT AQUARELL is one brand. These are fun to play with as well as used somewhat traditionally.