Exercise: Getting tone and depth in detail


I found a lovely piece of splintered wood in Thetford Forest. It was a beast to draw as it is so complex. I had to settle for capturing some but not all of the fine detail. I particularly like the object because it reminds me of a ancient, crumbling citadel built  out of a cliff. There are quite defined insect holes, which look like windows, and an edge that resembles a harbour wall. This object sets the imagination going and might inspire film or theatre sets and imaginary landscapes.

I used a variety of soft and hard pencils. I found I had to put a lot of pressure on the soft pencils to achieve the depth.  If I was to draw this again, I’d start by singling out the most strong lines and working around these. It was hard to not to get lost and confused by the detail (I did a bit). The picture has fitted reasonably well on to the A3 paper. The image has an interesting shadow and I arranged it to take advantage of this. I used mostly vertical lines because this reflected the nature of the wood. I also used some cross hatching for the small horizontal areas.

It’s a very frail piece of wood in an advanced stage of decay. I hope it doesn’t crumble away to wood chip before I get the chance to draw it again. It’s a wonderful natural sculpture in its own right.

Additional note following feedback on Part One from my tutor. There’s no ‘support’ i.e. indication of table, floor, etc, to give context. I wondered if I should go back to add this but decided not to as in this instance it feels good to let the imagination decide what the object might be. I used a very strong light which cast a strong dramatic shadow which I thought I liked… but now I’m reflecting on the possibility that the  shadow might detract from the object itself and sometimes less is more.


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