One of the things that makes drawing different from all other forms of art is that it is, in essence, unfinished until the artist puts in the final brushstroke. This might be a stroke with a pencil or pen in black and white or color media, but it’s still one more step to take before your work becomes an image you can hand to someone else or hang on your wall.
The most famous example of the unfinished look in art is Michelangelo’s “David.” When he began it, he was about twenty-five years old and had not yet perfected his style; you can see that the legs are too thin, the arms too long. You can almost feel the impatience of the young artist. He worked on “David” for three years until he was thirty-two, and by then, it was a masterpiece that he could be proud of.
Best Finishing Techniques in Drawing
1. Pen and Ink
One of the best-known finishing techniques for pencil drawings is to finish them with pen and ink. The linework has a very different feel than it does in graphite because the pressure from your hand varies as you draw. This gives your drawing an organic feeling that brings out subtle details. If you want to give your picture a bit of a technical look, you can outline the pen lines. if want to know more check this tutorial.
Multiple charcoal artists have told me that their work is unique in how easily it smudges and blends. With your graphite drawing, you can achieve this look by taking a tissue or paper towel and lightly going over the lines. This will leave a streak that you can build up with more pressure to give your drawing a soft feel.
3. Watercolor and Gouache
Another of the most famous techniques for bringing out details in pencil drawings is watercolor and gouache. You can lighten certain areas with water and then blend it with the rest of the colors. To give your drawing texture, you can paint with gouache on top of the pencil lines, making them stand out and even more apparent than if you used watercolor alone.
4. Charcoal and Pencil
Like charcoal, you can line the drawing in black ink before putting it in watercolor or gouache. This will allow for smoother linework than if you only used pencil lines, to begin with. However, you’ll want to be careful when using this technique; many people find that pen makes their hand cramp and so they can’t draw all day long.
5. Graphite and Charcoal
Another finish for pencil drawings is to use charcoal first and then graphite on top of that. This will give your picture a rough, organic feel, as you initially used the softer medium to put down most of the lines. Be sure not to use too much graphite, or your pipes will become stiff and rigid rather than soft. Consider also asking the professional or participating in the course.
6. Graphite and Watercolor
One of the most well-known finishing techniques in the drawing is to go over everything with watercolor after putting in your initial work in graphite. This can give you a broad spectrum of color options to work with but be careful not to use too much water, or your drawing can blur and become distorted. You’ll want to blend the colors, but you’ll also want to leave some areas dark so that they stand out from the rest of your artwork.
7. Graphite and Gouache
Another finish for pencil drawings in gouache instead of watercolor. This will give you a very different look to your picture, as the colors are more opaque and cover up what’s underneath. You can blend them with water, but be careful not to make it too runny, or your lines will become blurry.
A lot of information? Maybe it is better to try asking the professional, I have used this tutorial: Draw Like a Master Artist.
8. Pencil, Graphite, and Charcoal
One of the best finishing techniques for pencil drawings is to put down charcoal first and then use a graphite burnisher on top of it to make your lines stand out. This will give your picture a unique look, as the charcoal smudging meshes with the graphite’s hard outlines. You can blend this even more by going over the drawing with watercolor.
9. Pencil and Watercolor
Another popular technique for coloring pencil drawings is to put down watercolor first and then use both graphite and colored pencils on top of that. This will give your picture a unique appearance, as the graphite brings out the lines while the colored pencil gives it color. You can blend all these with water, but be careful not to use too much, or your drawing will start to blur.
10. Felt Tip Pens
If colored pencils or crayons aren’t quite your thing, you can also use felt tip pens. This is a great technique if you want to do a technical drawing and make it look even more. Just draw out the pen lines with a ruler to give them a clean, crisp cut.
11. Acrylic Paint
Many artists will paint over their pictures with acrylic paint if they want them to stand out. This gives the painting a layer of depth that you might not be able to get in any other way. You can use this technique with most paints, but I would stick with acrylic or oil-based paints because they will blend better than water-based paints. Another professional tip like this can be found in the ultimate course for beginners and advanced artists.
The above techniques are just some ways for getting the finishing touches on your drawings. There are many options, so try out a few different ones and see what works best for each piece. You can vary these techniques for other objectives; maybe you want to add more detail, or perhaps you want to give your work a softer look.
Now when you have learned about the finishing techniques, you can move to the next important step and learn how to add life to your drawings with color in the post below:
Title Image, (Image credit: Trace Baker)
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