DRAWING:VIDEO:LOD Standard Pressure Scale (Compressed Charcoal)

Pressure Scales:

One of the most valuable and challenging steps within this training program is The Pressure Scale exercise. The goal of this exercise is to develop control of, and sensitivity to, your drawing tools by performing seamless gradations of value in one continuous motion.


Using your softest charcoal pencil, execute a value scale from dark (at the top) to light (at the bottom) by means of pressure control. Beginning with maximum pressure to deliver the darkest dark, use a back and forth motion as you move down the page, reducing pressure as you go until your pencil leaves almost no mark. Your scale should be about 1” wide and 2 to 2.5” long. Be sure to follow all the rules listed here.

Rules to follow:

1. Execute scale in a ceaseless motion from dark to light:

Carry out each pressure scale in a continuous motion. Once you begin the gradation, keep moving. Do not stop or linger in any one place. Continue your forward motion until the scale is completed.

2. Do not lift your pencil from the drawing surface until the scale is finished:

Once started, do not lift your pencil from the paper until the scale is finished. In your efforts to use lighter and lighter pressure, you may feel, or hear, yourself lifting the pencil away from the paper. This is quite normal, and with a little practice, eventually overcome.

3. Do not reverse direction or go back and fix any mistakes:

Initially, you will probably notice a good deal of jumps, breaks, or skips in your scale gradations. You may be tempted to stop or change direction and fix these errors. Do not. Continue forward and move on to the next scale. With practice, you will find that these ‘errors’ occur with less frequency as your pressure control develops. Continuing on in spite of your mistakes will also help you to develop confidence in your drawing ability.

4. Maintain an even speed:

Early on you may find that tempo will vary. Your tempo may start fast and slow near the finish. Try to keep your pace even and let your pressure determine the values.

(You may be interested in Building Successful Pressure Scale Tapers as well)

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