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This is a painterly style of grip that produces a light and breezy type of line that benefits the expression of gesture. Capturing the right sense of gesture is incredibly important at the beginning stage of a drawing because to get it right at a basic level at the start is to seed your drawing with a energy that will show through at the very end. The skill is to make sure sure you don't destroy that sense of gesture with too much information.


Constellation Grip


Pencil Grip

The way you hold the pencil is completely up to you but I want to suggest a few ways that can benefit your work. The way you grip the pencil will dictate what type stroke you will produce.


A critical thing to remember is that, depending on which phase of the drawing you're at, your grip should change like you might change gears on a bike as dictated by the terrain. Below you will find the four grips I use throughout the course of producing a drawing.


We call it the Constellation because it is the pencil grip that we use to generate the large shape that encapsulates the whole. This has to be one of my favourite grips because it not only enables us to draw lines in light and simple ways, it is also good to putting down large washes of value. These light washes of value are excellent when it comes to beginning to explain which areas are falling into shadow.


If you want to take this grip even further then I would highly recommend thinking about attaching a pencil extender and seeing how this added length to your pencil helps in generating gestural, flowing lines that convey a sophisticated energy.

Many people will think that drawing is all about the hand, eye, mind and pencil... but don't forget your arm is very important too! In the constellation and block-in stages, use your arm, not your wrist, to generate long fluid strokes.


Nice washed in shadows produced with the pencil held at the far end. This process suddently flicks on the lights and our drawing enters a whole new stage of development.


Block-in Grip


Intiating the block-in grip is easy, just shift your hand a little ways down the pencil so it's close to, or even a bit beyond the middle. Doing this will increase specificity in your stroke and enable you to carry out the task of refining of lines so they express a clearer idea of the thing or person you're drawing.


In this early drawing of an eye, we can see an example of the early block-in phase. Becoming adept at both the constellation and block-in stages of a drawing is a vital thing when developing your skill-set.


Knowing when to use the right pencil grip will allow you to grow as a draughtsperson and produce drawings that more accurately reflect life and express your experience in a truer more meaningful manner.


Contour Grip

The contour grip is the pencil holding style that is required at the end phase of a drawing. Whether it is for bringing the line-work to a completed state or expressing the minutiae within the value work, the contour grip is required to expressing the specificity of the drawing.


The thing to be aware of when considering pencil grips is that, the further down the pencil your hand goes (closer to the graphite tip), the more tight your stroke becomes. The constellation grip therefore is the most open and flexible to change.


The contour grip is a lot more closed and rigid. So be careful that you don't jump to the next stage of pencil grip before your drawing has reached that next stage.

The contour is a finely tuned line that has been developed from loose, lightly drawns lines that are open to change. The resulting state is a closed, tight line that reflects the outside edge.


Specific Wash Grip

This grip is related to the constellation in that it's excellent at placing in washes of value. The differences are that this grip allows for more pressure and more precision.


This grip is similar to how you might hold a charcoal stick which is perfect since using this grip allows us to use the side of the graphite tip. If sharpened enough then we can mass in large swathes of value which can compliment fine linework very nicely.

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