How to Draw Cars – The Value of Prismacolors

February 13, 2011  •  Leave a Comment

Hmmm…let’s see….do I use pencil, pen, markers, or prismacolors?  So many choices….where do I start?  Well….in design school, the item of choice to design and draw muscle cars, sports cars, or hotrods are prismacolor or Verithin Pencils.  Why?  Lets just go over the advantages over your conventional pencils and pens shall we?

Creating dynamic drawings with thought provoking compositions with rich value and contrast requires a special medium that can give you that light to dark range.  Prismacolor pencils, which are a wax based soft pencil, gives you that rich bold dynamic range of value from a single hue.  Though they are quite pricey ranging from $1 to $1.50 each, they are a terrific medium to work with.

In contrast, the regular HB pencil can only give limited value range.  This is why art classes require you to buy a different range of pencils from 4B, 3B, 2B——HB—-2h, 3H, and 4H. 4B being very soft and dark, and 4H being harder and lighter.

So what is a value range and why is it so important? Well a value range is how light or dark a given hue is.  So below, we have a gray scale which starts with white being “0″ and goes all the way to it’s extreme at “10.”  As you add a little bit of black to the white, you will end up getting a gray scale range.  Therefore adding 1/10th of black to white, will give you “1.”  Adding “2/10ths” of black to the white will give you the shade “2.”   Equal portions of black and white will give you “5.” I’m sure you get the point.

Here is a video that shows the value range of some gray scale markers  and prismacolor pencils.

Click here to view the embedded video.

So it is this specific range that prismacolor pencils shine because you can get a wonderful range of light to darks off of a single hue.   Let’s see what we can do with these pencils.  Check out the sketches below and see how the darker values help to draw attention to specific areas of the sketch.

This sketch shows dark values for the trees, tires, bottom of the grandprix car, as well as silhouetting around the profile of the car.  This helps to “pop” the image out.

The classic grand prix cars sketch here is heavily darkened at the front.  The stone wall is also slightly shaded with a darker value but then fades to a lighter value at the rear of the car.

As the grand prix car comes around the corner, the trees around the building helps to define the edge of the building.  The contrast of the shadow side of the car, also helps to define the profile of the car in contrast to the background of the building.

The sketch above darkens the grand prix cars while leaving portions of the background with lesser value .  So the cars are the main focal points here as you can see the contrast between the white of the page and the darker shades of the cars.  I did darken a little bit of the trees and the stone wall slightly.

So I hope this illustrates how important it is to choose the right kind of medium for the job and how prismacolors  pencils are surely more than up for the task.  At roughly a buck a piece, it can get really expensive.  Therefore the Verithin pencils can be a nice alternative…but its a harder pencil and won’t give you the full value range.

If you have any questions about the type of medium to use for drawings, drop me a line and I’ll be more than happy to help!

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