Part Two, Project 5, Exercise 2 Tonal study of bones and shells

Find your subject and decide on the best media for conveying its characteristics. Would the subject lend itself to a strong tonal handling or a more delicate visual statement?  Or try both approaches.  Try to ensure fairly constant light.  How can you convey the volume and solidity of the object?

This is a complex subject with a lot of tiny bones, structures and details within the skull.  It is also quite a small object (about 4inches long) so I decided to attempt the drawing on larger paper to encourage myself to make it larger.  In spite of this it still turned out fairly small -relative to the paper!



Mallard skull- graphite pencil on Extra Smooth 250gsm Winsor & Newton Bristol Board.  

I spent a lot of time observing and following the tonal shading with my pencils.  I worked from the very lightest areas to the darkest.  The light was behind the skull, slightly to the right, so my problem was whether to draw absolutely what I saw.  Since the light was coming from behind, much of the internal structure was lighter than the front parts, which brought them forwards, rather than making it obvious they were behind the front surface of the skull.  My Husband couldn’t make out what it was, because he was confused by the misleading sense of form this produced.

When I looked at other pictures of bird skulls, the eye socket for example, tended to be slightly darker than the front surface, making it look as if it were receding into the background…  For example


  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills   I observed and worked accurately, marking in the fine detail using graphite pencils.  I might have created more of a composition, but did not feel that the exercise demanded this.  I treated it more as a study/ anatomical drawing.
  • Regarding outcome and creativity, this exercise was more about practicing using the media and using it accurately and appropriately than using imagination and developing thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s