Botanical Art & Natural Science Illustration Tip # 6 Adding Detail
Get to the Point!

We have already discussed pencil sharpeners, but I will say it one more time…..Botanical Artists and Natural Science Illustrators should have  a good pencil sharpener and use it often. I find that some pencil sharpeners, particularly the plug-in electrical ones tend to eat pencils like I eat popcorn in the movie theater, YUM!  Some people won't sharpen their pencils because of this problem. At $1+ per pencil feeding your pencil sharpener can be more costly than feeding a colony of ferrel cats in Central Park. So what do you do?

When I put my pencil in the sharpener I put a little bit of pressure downwards. The sharpener is turning clockwise and I gently turn it counterclockwise, using my thumb and forefinger. The extra friction that the opposite direction causes helps to sharpen the pencil faster. I also sharpen it often and I mean often. If you let the pencil get too blunt you will have to shave more from the wood, and it will get shorter faster. I start my drawings by building up tone using the side of the pencil. (Tip#5) This creates volume and form immediately.To add texture and detail to my drawings I shift the position of my hand from the end of the pencil towards the point. Once my form is established I use it as a road map and start putting in the detail. Highlights and shadows have minimal detail. The most detail is in the middle toned area. See the illustration of the Pitcher Plant above to see how this works.  

In order to keep the edges crisp I lightly outline my subject. The outline should ALWAYS match the same tone as the inside of tone. If the outline is too dark, it will flatten the subject and look like a coloring book. If you make the outline too dark……. USE YOUR KNEADED ERASER to gently lift the tone so it matches the interior. Keep sharpening that point to keep the drawing in crystal clear focus. 

Happy drawing!