2.1. Tonal variation

Exercise: Gradation of tone using repeated marks

  • fix three A4 sheets on a wall
  • fill the sheets with marks of approx. 2 inches in hight
  • keep the pressure consistent, light on the first, stronger on the second, strongest on the last.
  • Compare the three tones
exercise-2-1
Conté-stick on drawing paper, A4

Are the marks in all three consistent in length and thickness? – Yes, quite, I think. The first ones in each show that I was tuning my hand. Also the texture of the wall beneath shows and makes the marks mottled.

Are there more strokes than spaces in between? – Yes. In the lightest tone the stick did not always draw with its whole width which gives the impression of wider spaces.

Are there clear differences between each sheet in terms of tone? – Yes. The midtone is somewhat closer to the light one I would say.

This way of achieving tone is very straight forward – more pressure gives darker marks. I was interested in how the relation of marks to spaces works as a means to achieve tone when the darkness of the marks is consistent. For this I made some examples where the tone changes gradually from left to right using ink pens and graphite pencils. I tried hatching in different directions, crosshatching and stippling.

I found that the direction and character of the marks is important. I wanted to work more on this and find out when to use which marks. These first attempts were timid, scientific and rather stiff. I was worried about the lines not being parallel and the distance between them changing too abruptly. In the course of the following exercises I lost that a bit and grew bolder. I got some very nice effects in some of the less ordered marks.

(I made this exercise first but left the logging of it until last).

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