July 05, 2011

The Art of Jamie McKay

This break down of steps is in regards to a still life realism piece. It's from a reference that I had arranged, photographed and drawn. There are so many ways to approach a charcoal drawing but this is how I do it for this type of realistic piece.

The process of the charcoal drawing begins with a light pencil sketching of the subject. Make sure you are sketching lightly as charcoal tends to define the tooth or grain of your paper and any indentations or deeper lines present as well.

I start by adding a black area somewhere within the drawing, so I can better gauge the tones I'll be working with in comparison. From this point I'll begin adding some of the surrounding details.

Building off what I've begun to create I add more details, being mindful of both the charcoal I've already laid (so it doesn't accidentally smudge) and the tones I'm using, being as accurate as possible to the reference photo

Adding the upper background to the piece. Don't hesitate to try many different approaches to achieve the results you're looking for. Smudge tools, fingers, and different types of charcoal (pencil, stick, etc) can be used to create certain effects... don't hesitate to experiment to achieve your results.

Again building off the work I've completed, adding tones, values and details as I see them in my reference.

Building the piece slowly and accurately, working with smudge tools, hard, medium and soft pencils.
Texture can make or break a piece. Be as accurate as you can when either creating the effect of bone, rope, wood or metal (or any other texture). Is it a gritty, rough, smooth, metallic texture your looking for? Break down what it is that makes the texture appear as it does and do your best to mimic that effect. Practice on a piece of scrap paper if necessary.

Adding textures, tones, and details. As you can see I'm working from the left to the right (as I'm right handed). This helps to avoid the smearing and mess often linked to charcoal drawings. If you're careful, a charcoal drawing can be as crisp and detailed as any other medium.

Carefully referring to my reference often, I add the details as I see them. The piece is nearing completion and I begin to look at the piece as a whole, determining areas where more shading, detailing or depth may be needed and adding it as required.

The finished piece. With patience, observation and most importantly, inspiration and drive, working through the processes and completing a piece can really be a blast!! :)

Jamie is the owner of Sacred Temple Tattoos

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