Figure Drawing

Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville




Shading & Texture


Visitor's Center

the Figure Drawing LAB

Materials for Figure Drawing

The right materials for drawing can help improve your skills for working from the figure. Most drawing materials have particular attributes which can aid in softening and smoothing. This can help in achieving the consistent subtle tone changes that occur in the figure.

Drawing Tools: These are the drawing devices that are especially well suited to figure drawing.

Soft Pencil
A soft pencil is one with a dark tone that can be smoothed and also can achieve dark rich blacks. Look for 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, etc...-the higher the number, the darker and softer the lead. Ebony pencils are excellent.

Compressed Charcoal
Charcoal also comes in value ranges that increase in number just as pencils do. Look for high numbers like 6B or higher for best results. Avoid vine charcoal because it is too soft and light.

Conte Crayon
An excellent material for drawing the figure because it has a creamy smoothness and doesn't smear as easily as charcoal. Conte also comes in a variety of colors, including white, which can create beautiful highlights on gray or colored paper.

Erasers: Think of these as negative drawing tools. If you covered a piece of paper in charcoal, then you could draw with an eraser, just draw the light areas instead of the dark ones.

Pink Pearl Eraser
Used to take off as much dark as possible. It is impossible to get all the pigment out of the paper, but this eraser will get out the most.

Kneaded Eraser
This is an interesting type of eraser because you actually have to stretch it and knead it like Play-Dough. This type of eraser is for subtle lightening and softening. Press it into the area and lift up. Then knead the charcoal (or pencil) into the eraser and repeat the process.

Paper: Papers are especially important because they will dictate detail and character. Look for a paper with good "tooth." This means a subtle roughness that will invite the charcoal, conte, or drawing pencil to catch in the fibers. Good brands to look for are Arches, Rives, Strathmore, or an excellent handmade American paper by Twinrocker in Indiana. Heavier papers will withstand more erasing and pressure. I like Arches cover.







Questions or comments can be forwarded to Ralph Larmann at the University of Evansville.


Here are illustrations of the tools that you will want to get. There are many others that artists use, but these are simple and effective. Feel free to experiment with others.


[Primer][Proportion][Shading & Texture][Construction]

created 6/15/98 by R. M. Larmann
updated 06/25/04

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