How Tone Influences Depth Perception in Drawings

Creating depth is an important way to make your drawings look realistic. Begining Drawing helps you learn how to see and use tones to add depth and dimension to drawings.

tones finished, Begining Drawing

Building on our understanding of the illusion of space, let’s consider how tone influences depth perception. In the “Visual Habits” section on page 26, we introduced a few key concepts regarding how the artist sees tone. We use visual habits like squinting to identify simple values and discern the edges where values change. This is so important because the artist is only able to describe a very limited amount of the myriad values seen in nature.

Remember to squint at your subjects to simplify values!

A commonly accepted scale of visible tones in a drawing is the nine-value scale plus white. We must practice making these tonal keys communicate tone. To successfully portray the natural world around us, we must be able to simplify values by taking the various colors and shades and reducing them into a very limited amount of values in our drawing. This is a critical skill for the artist to develop. Try making a simple three-value tonal key with a clear separation between the tones.

tonal key, Begining DrawingA tonal key

Practice: Draw a tonal key in three values: light, middle, and dark.

value, Begining DrawingA nine-value tonal key

Practice: Now add greater complexity by drawing the full value range of nine tones plus white. (White is seen outside of the nine-tone scale.)

Subtle blending conveys soft and diffused edges and atmosphere in our drawings. Blending stumps and tortillons soften and subdue pencil marks. A chamois and even a paper towel can be used to blend the pencil or charcoal on the paper. Once you get good at blending, draw your own graded tonal range from light to dark with a very soft gradation between the values.

blending, Begining Drawing

Practice: On a blank piece of paper, experiment with a number of blending tools to soften edges and create smooth tones in graphite and charcoal. Refer to the blending tools on page 14 for ideas.

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beginning-drawingDiscover and master the fundamentals of drawing with professional tips and expert instruction.

Designed especially for aspiring artists, Beginning Drawing, the third title in Walter Foster’s new Portfolio series, offers a well-rounded introduction to the art of basic drawing. In this concept-and technique-driven approach, beginning artists will discover the fundamentals of the craft and how to put those skills into practice for creating realistic works of art. From selecting and working with the tools of the trade to learning a range of basic techniques, Beginning Drawing provides a thorough, easily digestible overview of key drawing concepts, including lighting, shading, shadows, perspective, texture, and composition, and then demonstrates how these techniques intersect, both functionally and creatively, in a wider context within a complete piece of art. Step-by-step lessons encourage practice, focusing readers on the methods and techniques designed to enhance their overall skill level, before graduating on to more subject-specific works. Packed with professional tips and expert instruction, Beginning Drawing is the perfect book for anyone desiring to learn, and ultimately master, the art of drawing.