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A List of Drawing Mediums and Their Characteristics

By Matt Fussell

Drawing is the process or technique used while medium is the actual material used to create the artwork. There are a variety of different drawing media that can be used to create drawings. Each medium has different characteristics and produces different effects. There are also different drawing techniques associated with each medium. Many of these techniques are explored in the video art lessons listed above. (Remember that this list of drawing lessons is added to on a consistent basis, so if an art or drawing lesson is not listed above, it may be coming soon. So check back often.)

Graphite- most commonly referred to as pencil or lead. Graphite is a grayish material that is available in a variety of different grades. " HB" is most commonly called a #2 pencil and is found in the middle of the grades. Softer graphite pencils are named "B" pencils and range from "B" (soft) to "9B" (extremely soft). "B" pencils generally make darker marks because of the softness of the graphite. One downside to "B" pencils are that they become dull easily. "H" pencils are made of harder graphite and range from "H" (hard) to "9H" (hardest). "H" pencils make lighter marks but keep a sharp point for a longer period of time. Graphite also comes in large chunks that are not in pencils. This graphite is used for covering large areas of a surface quickly.

Charcoal- While graphite is grayish in value, charcoal provides rich, dark blacks in the creation of drawings. Charcoal is burnt organic material and is usually some type of wood. Charcoal comes in a variety of different types. Vine charcoal is soft, makes lighter marks and is easily erased. Compressed charcoal is harder, makes darker marks and is harder to erase. Charcoal is produced in both stick and pencil form.

Colored Pencils- Colored pencils are made of a pigmented stick held together by a waxy binder. Colored pencils vary in brand quality and price. They are available almost anywhere.

Chalk Pastels- Chalk pastels are powdery pigmented sticks that are held together by a gum binder. Finished chalk pastel drawings can look like paintings and are often referred to as paintings.

Oil Pastels- are colored sticks that are held together by linseed oil. They can be thinned and spread by using traditional oil painting solvents. Finished oil pastel drawings are also referred to as paintings.

Pen and Ink- Ink that is applied to a surface through the application of a pen is considered pen and ink. Inks come in a variety of different colors and can be applied in a variety of different pens. Hatching, cross hatching, and stippling are most commonly the techniques used in pen and ink drawing.

Markers- Markers are typically used for design work. Markers are generally not permanent, (despite what it may say on the marker). Therefore, markers are used in fashion design, graphic design, industrial design, and illustration. Rarely are markers used for what is considered "fine art".

Is the Technical Illustrator a Dying Profession?

By C A Green

Over the last twenty five years considerable changes have been see in the shape of Technical Publications departments. The traditional roles of the technical author and technical illustrator have changed dramatically, but have we now got to the stage where the technical illustrator is no longer required?

When I first started in a technical publications department there were clearly defined roles and departments within the technical publications department. The technical authors creating the words, the typing pool, the illustrators within their studio and the make-up artists. As time has gone by these roles have changed significantly and some died altogether. The advent of technology and software has meant the end for the typing pool and the make-up artist if not extinct is definitely on the endangered list. Is it now the end for the Technical Illustrator?

The traditional technical illustrator would have been college trained and produce isometric pen and ink illustrations, obviously mistakes and amendments were very difficult to correct or implement.

The first real change was the introduction of the PC and drawing software such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. The traditional illustrating skills of how to construct isometric illustrations were still needed, so the only change for the technical illustrator was the PC replaced the drawing board, pen and ink.

With the PC becoming more powerful and common in the workplace Itedo produced the first specialist illustrating software "Isodraw". This could be argued as the first step in software replacing the trained illustrator, with a bit of training on the software non-illustrators could now produce simple isometric illustrations. However, the role of the technical illustrator was still safe.

The next threat was from the drawing office with the general availability of the 3D modelling software. This software made it possible to automate the process of creating isometric illustrations. The saving grace was that the illustrations produced by the 3D modelling software were not of the same quality and the cost of the software made companies reluctant to use it for technical publications. These model files could be imported into visualisation/animation software such as 3d studio max and 3d viz. The resultant CGIs and animations were more of a threat to graphic designers than technical illustrators.

The biggest threat to the technical illustrator came ironically from the first ever software designed specifically for technical illustrators, Itedo released "IsoDraw Cad Process". It is now possible to import native 3D model files into IsoDraw Cad Process which can totally automate the production of illustrations. Therefore anyone trained on the software can now generate the illustrations required.

As if this wasn't bad enough the modelling software costs have dropped to that similar to IsoDraw Cad Process making it readily available to the technical publications department. As many of the modelling software programs now incorporate rendering engines, this has made it possible to create animations and photo-realistic CGIs that are possible to update by modifying the 3D model file, thus making the production of animations a cost effective option.

So has the technical illustrator died? You could say he's definitely dying, but as long as companies are still reluctant to allow the Technical Publications department or outsource company access to the model files and they continue to send photos to be traced, the technical illustrator is still alive, just.

Is the Way Architects Currently Draw About to Change for the Better?

By Paul Doherty

Are architects scared of change? It took them a considerable amount of time to move from pen/ink and traditional drawing boards, to computers... Ap is the software of choice in the industry, but why have architects not begun to take advantage of the multitude of three dimensional software tools which are available when designing buildings which are of course three dimensional forms?

I used to work as an in-house 3D visualizer for a large architectural practice. All the architects designed in 2D, they drew plans and elevations in a 2D package which had 3D functionality that none of them utilized. When their designs were complete I was asked to visualize the design, which nearly always flagged issues, or the architect realised the design didn't look as good as they thought it would when brought into three dimensions, and then drastically changed it. This raises the question - why don't they design the buildings in 3D from the start? It would give them a better understanding of the internal space in the building, and how the elevations work in context with one another. It would also streamline the design process and eliminate costly and time consuming design changes at late stages.

As a 3D architectural visualizer I receive architects drawings, which from time to time aren't fully resolved and require a certain amount of guesswork. Often architects use the visualizations as a design tool and make major changes to the design after seeing it visualized... This seems the wrong way round to me, if the building was being designed in 3D any design issues would quickly come to light and be designed out during the design process, rather than after it is complete. This way all final drawings at the visualization stage would be final drawings...

The software is there, the CAD packages Autocad and Vectorworks for example both have 3D functionality, and if that isn't a viable option, sketchup is an extremely easy, intuitive tool to learn. Seven years study at university but the only software tool many architects know or want to know is the two dimensional side of Autocad?

Things constantly move forward and this is especially relevant in the design industry. VFX studios, 3D studios, Videogame studios, Design houses etc. are all constantly learning the cutting edge techniques and technologies to stay ahead of the game... Why do architects differ? Why are they slow to embrace advances in technology within their area?

Thankfully this attitude is beginning to change albeit only on major projects, with the introduction of BIM ( Building Information Modeling ). BIM is a really a work-flow which incorporates 3 dimensional software tools for example 'Autodesk revit'. BIMs purpose is to streamline communication at every stage of the design process between the Architect, the structural engineers the construction team, the clients, and everyone in between. The 3D visualization of the project allows all parties involved to share the building visualization digitally and thus flag problems, design issues, environmental impact issues etc. right from conceptualization to completion.

Architects would get the job done a lot more efficiently and with less and less problems/issues if they designed in three dimensions right from the word go, from basic 2 bed houses to major developments. Although the flip-side of this is that they may begin to consider themselves 3D Visualizers. My opinion would be for them to utilize all the tools at their disposal to do what they do best - design, and leave the visualizing to the visualization experts.

The Elements of Line Drawing

By Hugh Quentin Co-Author: Jon Mumford

Lines and their characteristics make or break a drawing--therefore you either have a masterpiece or a doodle.

The basic purpose of a line drawing is to describe the form with the use of varied lines in thickness, lost and found edges, to give direction, flow, volume and space as well as hatching or shading effects to give depth (values - lightness or darkness.)

When viewing an object to draw, we do not see lines but the edges of 3D forms separating each space and volume whilst uniformly projecting a unified whole.

In drawing or sketching one must develop the skill of hand-eye coordination to expose an exact line BEFORE the pencil touches the paper!

Failing that, it becomes a meaningless doodle.

In drawing and object, landscape or the human figure, the artist should look and observe these subjects about 80-90 percent of the time and only a small percentage at his or her drawing. Why? Your eye movement should be following along the line before otherwise you lose contact and "feel" with the form with the resultant doodle.

There is an excellent exercise for students to observe an object with feeling, then draw it from memory. This should be followed by drawing it again by closing your eyes. I think you will be surprised by the results! By doing this exercise regularly, your observations will improve and your drawings will become accurate. There's a corollary to this; always observe your subject by holding it in your mind's eye and not in your drawing.

If you draw without variation in line width, or pressure from your pencil to achieve a lighter to darker line--your drawing will look boring and lifeless. With variable lines, your drawings will appear as if they are going into a "deeper space" or receding into nothing thereby giving your drawing more 3D volume.

With line variations you can describe roundness of the form, softness, weight, volume, movement and tension. If your drawing looks a little static with little variation in your line, try erasing some of them in a few places especially where forms overlap--now take a look and see the difference.

This takes us into "lost and found edges." Sometimes lighting can be a factor in how you perceive edges. A disappearing form can be blurred by soft lights on contoured surfaces--so practice with a medium HB pencil of pressing firmly across your paper starting with an almost black line and gradually easing the pressure until you obtain a very faint line.

With these exercises you will soon train your eye to actually 'feel' the surface while varying the pressure to obtain a distinction which will make a difference in the overall effect.

Hugh Quentin is a webmaster for his drawing and sketching website http://www.drawing-pencil-sketches.com who provides tips and guidance to anyone wanting to learn how to draw using a pencil, charcoal, or pen and ink. Find examples of how to draw animals, people, angels, Gothic art, landscapes, and more.


No architect troubled to design houses that suited people who were to live in them, because that would have meant building a whole range of different houses. It was far cheaper and, above all, timesaving to make them identical.
Michael Ende

Not many architects have the luxury to reject significant things.
Rem Koolhaas

Nothing requires the architect's care more than the due proportions of buildings.
Marcus V. Pollio

Proportions are what makes the old Greek temples classic in their beauty. They are like huge blocks, from which the air has been literally hewn out between the columns.
Arne Jacobsen

Rome has not seen a modern building in more than half a century. It is a city frozen in time.
Richard Meier

Space has always been the spiritual dimension of architecture. It is not the physical statement of the structure so much as what it contains that moves us.
Arthur Erickson

The bungalow had more to do with how Americans live today than any other building that has gone remotely by the name of architecture in our history.
Russell Lynes

The dialogue between client and architect is about as intimate as any conversation you can have, because when you're talking about building a house, you're talking about dreams.
Robert A. M. Stern

The frightening thought that what you draw may become a building makes for reasoned lines.
Saul Steinberg

The higher the building the lower the morals.
Noel Coward

The interior of the house personifies the private world; the exterior of it is part of the outside world.
Stephen Gardiner

The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.
Thomas Kempis

The Romans were not inventors of the supporting arch, but its extended use in vaults and intersecting barrel shapes and domes is theirs.
Harry Seidler

The work of art shows people new directions and thinks of the future. The house thinks of the present.
Adolf Loos

Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.
Antonio Gaudi


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