Botanical Art and Natural Science Illustration- Tip # 5 

Apply tone with the side of your pencil.

"It's all in the Wrist"

All too often botanical artists and natural science illustrators use the point of their pencils to create form/volume in their work. Botanical art and natural science illustration is detailed oriented right? So why not use the point of the pencil?? Initially using the point is a mistake unless you are using it to depict a highly textured surface. I am a fanatic about creating 3- dimension in my work. To do this you MUST have a specified LIGHT SOURCE! The industry lighting standard for botanical art and natural science illustration dictates that the light comes from the upper left at 45 degrees from the picture plane. The lighting should be soft and consistent.

To work with the side of the pencil it is best to hold it on the end so the graphite lays flat on the paper. Whatever you do………… DO NOT HOLD THE PENCIL WITH A DEATH GRIP! Holding a pencil too tightly will result in carpal tunnel syndrome, and other aches and pains. You do not gain better control by white knuckling and clenching your pencil. Go to a yoga class, get a massage, or have a cocktail before drawing if you are too tense. RELAX AND ENJOY. Keep your arm on the table and let your wrist, not your elbow or shoulder do the work.
Layer graphite by slowly building up tone. Use your wrist to create elliptical strokes. You can work from dark to light or light to dark, but build up your form first. Detail will come later……. and that is coming up next in:

Botanical Art and Natural Science Illustration- Tip #6

 Apply detail with the point of your pencil.