Exercise: Explore Value with Newspaper Shading
Aim: To practice value drawing, matching shaded values to a printed image
Materials: Size A4 or bigger paper, HB, B, 2B, and 4B pencils, large black-and-white newspaper images, a glue stick
Time: 40 minutes, depending on image
Set Up: This exercise looks best with large newspaper images. You can use a printout of your own photograph. Choose a large image with plenty of shades of gray. Tear or cut off a section (usually half vertically, though you might choose to remove a different section, depending on the image), and glue the remaining piece onto a sheet of sketch paper.
Start Drawing: Using the torn-off section as a guide, complete the image, beginning with the areas closest to the newspaper first. You might like to lightly outline the shapes to begin with, but don't get sidetracked into line drawing—it is important to use shading and think in terms of areas of value, rather than line. Look at the shapes and values in the torn-off section and copy these to your drawing, using the HB for very light values and your 2B or 4B for darker ones. A sharp pencil is usually best for value drawing, but for this exercise you might find a blunt pencil works well for matching the grainy look of newsprint.
Review: Check that your values really match those of the picture. When you squint your eyes, it should look like a single piece of paper. Most people make their values too light when they start out. Make sure you are using a soft enough pencil (4B or 6B) for the really dark areas.
The most common mistake that beginners make is to be far too tentative with their value drawing, making things much lighter than they actually are. Try using a softer pencil than you think you need. Most drawings should have at least some very dark shades and black. If your drawing doesn't, take another look at your drawing and your subject, and consider whether you are working with too light of a touch.