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Project Sheet

Sketching with Graphite Putty

Achieve new effects with a traditional medium in an innovative form.

  • Difficulty Level: Beginner/Intermediate
  • Completion Time: 8 hours

Watch a video overview:

If you work in graphite, pastel, or other drawing mediums, and would like a more tactile experience, you're likely to enjoy the innovation and flexibility of ArtGraf Water-Soluble Graphite Putty. For use in both wet and dry applications, this putty can be shaped to create customized "tools" for different effects. We combined a number of tools and techniques in our portrait sketch.

What You'll Need

Before you begin, make sure you have all the supplies you'll need. The list below contains all the products we used to create the example shown in this demo. Materials are optional based upon your own design.

1. Create Your Tool

Your putty can be shaped and rolled into whatever form and size best suit your drawing. Create a narrow tool more like a traditional graphite implement, grab a chunk and roll it into a ball, or even use the entire hunk of putty right out of the bag for big, bold drawings or large areas.

Tip: When first using your graphite putty, it helps to knead the piece a bit to soften it and make it more malleable. Temperature will also affect it; a warm piece will be softer and produce darker shades, while cooling down your shaped piece gives it more stability and a lighter effect.

2. Dry-on-Dry

Use the graphite as-is, directly on your paper. Try adapting the shape of your tool to the desired image, and varying your technique. For example, you may want to use strokes across your paper, or you may choose to press your tool onto the paper, rubber-stamp style. If you're doing the latter, shaping your tool and even poking holes or pressing shapes into the part of the tool making contact with the paper can help you create patterns. (This will also work for the wet-on-wet technique below.)

3. Wet-on-Dry/Wet-on-Wet

Your putty is water-soluble and can be used in a wet-on-wet fashion in one of two ways: either by dipping the tool itself in water, or spraying your paper lightly with water before using the dry (or wet) tool. If you wet the graphite itself, be sure to lightly shake off any excess water to avoid drips on your sketch. 

4. Dry-on-Wet

If you'd rather produce more medium-level shading, you can also lightly spray your paper with water before using the dry graphite upon it.

5. Mixing Techniques

Sketches can incorporate multiple techniques and varying amounts of boldness and detail for added interest. Experiment with what works best for your vision.

 

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