Drawing on Toned Paper

Tinted pastel papers usually have a strong texture on one side, with the reverse being relatively smooth. You can work on either side, depending on the effect you are looking for. Working on colored paper is another way of exploring value observation—as the midvalue is established by the paper and you work in the darks and add the highlights. For the best results, it is important to avoid overlapping the white and black, as the blended mediums look dull against the gray paper. Carefully observe and place your values, and erase errors by lifting the medium with your eraser. Avoid blending or smudging; keep the drawing fresh and direct.

It is interesting to note just how much space you leave gray when working on tinted paper in comparison to the amount of space you might leave in a similar drawing on white paper.


Use a clear, detailed photographic reference to create a small, realistic image in charcoal. Copy your image using a grid or trace it. (Rub the back of a photocopy with charcoal, place it over the drawing paper, and draw over the outlines to press the charcoal onto the paper). Make your contour drawing as precise as possible, and apply everything you have learned about value drawing to the use of the charcoal medium. If you need to use white chalk to brighten highlights, do so, but make it your very last step in the drawing to avoid dull, blended grays.

Charcoal can be used for fine detail.


Set up a simple still life of several round, heavy fruits or vegetables in a clear plastic bag, knotted to a doorknob. Use a midvalue gray paper and draw with white chalk or Conté crayon (similar to a hard, white pastel) and compressed charcoal or black Conté. Try to capture the impression of weight and tension. Note highlights and straight lines to points of tension

White chalk is used to add highlights on toned paper.

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