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Wax Pencils - Marks

We can used the pencil point to make different types of mark on the paper. These ‘marks’ are not official ones and the names I give to them are simply a way to remember them all. When you work a picture, you will be using a combination of marks but it helps to have a range of strokes to simplify getting the feeling you want into the picture
The pencil mark you make will transfer more or less colour to the page dependant upon the sharpness of the point and the pressure applied. It will also have very different effects depending on the way you make your mark. These examples have all been prepared on a slightly ribbed cartridge paper, using a Prismacolor pencil which is quite soft and waxy. A harder pencil would have left finer lines and more precise shading but would have taken longer to lay down and the colour would have been less intense. Firstly we have simple hatching where the mark is made by a series of lines, all made in the same direction and close together. You can see that by pressing harder, or going back over with a second layer, it is easy to show a darker area.
By applying a second level of lines at right angles to the first, we get cross hatching, which is useful where we wish to avoid shading in a single Direction. Often this is used with a second colour on the second layer to blend two colours together visibly
I call this ‘Tick’ shading as the mark is made in a single stroke going from fairly high pressure on the point, fading away to nothing. This, in one way or another, is ideal for hair and fur as well as grass.
It is one step from here to tonal shading, where the pencil moves back and forwards across the area with a light touch and carefully trying not to overlap the strokes too much. More pressure gives more colour, and this technique is probably the most used single marking method. This is often used for colouring over indented lines in the paper - as shown here, to leave light or white marks showing.
Vertical ( or linear) shading is another version of the single line marking. Here a succession of strokes are made in the same direction but leaving spaces as required. The closer and the heavier the marks are made, the darker the effect. You can see the advantage of this mark for tree trunks, bark, and water.
Here the pencil forms a series of small circles or ovals of different sizes. Sometimes these overlap sometimes they are made heavier. These marks have a use when detailing foliage representing leavesof various types. Successive layers in shades of the same or similar colours result in a broken network of tones which represent leaves on a tree quite well.
We have ‘Aeroplane’ which is where the pencil lightly touches the paper and leaves again, like a plane coming into land and immediately taking off. This is often used to represent shine or shadow on a surface
And stipple, which is made up of small marks,usually of a random nature, which enable a more controlled image of a rough surface such as stone to be made
And finally, Scumble, which is a scribble action but with the aim of producing an even surface which will work accurately up to an edge if required.
When you are using wax type pencils, you are relying on the colour being built up on the paper in layers. This does not mean that you just ‘colour-in’ the drawing you have made, the art is in using the pencil to build up layering strokes - usually in the direction of the surface you are portraying. A smooth surface on a subject will require light layers of colour being built up in the way the light hits it. A rippled surface ( such as an orange skin ) will need a totally different approach so that the viewer sees the broken rippled surface. This page of marks gives you some ideas of the many ways the pencil can be used to show a surface. There are many ways you can make marks with a pencil which are not shown here. You will develop your own style with practice and time. This page is simply to introduce the idea of changing your marks to suit the subject.
Page last revised …. September 2017