Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Catching Highlights

2/6/18 Top Pot Doughnuts

The toned Stillman & Birn Nova sketchbook that I’ve been using since I began my minimalism challenge is nearly full, and I’m enjoying it very much. In general, it has helped to make me more aware of values and tones instead of being distracted by color.

1/23/18 Zoka Coffee
This has been especially true when sketching people (or perhaps it’s just that I’ve been sketching indoors so much since I started using it). When I use white paper, I typically use dark ink to focus on subtle shadows to indicate folds in clothing or facial contours. When I use toned paper, I can use a white pencil to capture subtle highlights on skin as well as dark ink for shading. I don’t know of any way to make those highlights as easily on white paper. 

I haven’t decided what I’ll do next when the Nova is full. . . go back to my usual white? Or start another toned book? The answer will probably depend on how much I’m jonesin’ for color. Of course, I’ll always have my little red notebook, which is essentially the same as toned paper.




  1. I finally “got” the allure of toned paper with your sketch, that not only can you sketch the darks, but you can put in the lights too! Ahhh, simplicity!

    1. Exactly! There's an elegance to capturing only the basic tones.

  2. So tempting to try the toned paper when looking at your sketches, but I'm too chicken to try it.


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