Cathleen Lengyel > Scribbles > Artist Help > Basics > Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

A common mistake among many artists is being afraid to go “too dark” on their drawing. When we’re working hard on a project somehow we get skittish about making something too dark.  It could be that deep dark crease in a face, or the shadowed area of your drawing, you could be afraid that it will ruin your hard work if you go too dark.  Actually, going too light could very well ruin your efforts. Working in realism, you need that striking dark to play against the highlights and mid-tones.  Without them, your drawing may appear washed out, tones may seem to run together and your highlights won’t be as striking. Here’s an example using a recent commission piece I’ve done. First, the portrait before adding the darkest values.
Before Dark Values
Before Dark Values
I could have stopped there, but it was missing what it really needed. Now let’s look at the finished portrait.
"Brooklynn" 8 x 10 inches, Derwent Graphite on Strathemore 400 heavyweight drawing paper in cream.
Finished with the dark values added.
  Can you see the difference?  The finished image just seems to pop more.  The deep smile crease on the face, around the eyes and the ear all needed to be darker.  It’s what brings out the realism and creates more depth in the portrait. Try it for yourself.  Don’t be afraid to go dark on your drawings, it can make a huge difference in your work. Until next time, Keep Creating!
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