More Pencil - Some brush settings considerations.


When I was doodling, I started thinking that one of the reasons pencils are so comfortable as a drawing tool is because they have two modes of operation. You can apply light pressure and get a soft effect or apply hard pressure to make a line.

You can sort of simulate this with any tool by altering the brush sensitivity curve. Brush size controls thinness or thickness and brush density controls how light and dark the stroke will be. Once you get comfortable with your own pressure sensitivity, you can "split" the curve so that one part of the curve has a very soft, light stroke and the other half is more of a solid line without the fuzzy inbetween.

I find that trying to figure out the middle of the curve is tends to be hard to measure because sometimes when I want a soft stroke, I get a hard one and vise versa. I wouldn't recommend this approach for inking because that middle area is important, but for brushes that are a little more forgiving.

Ideally, I use a split brush in the planning stages where I'm not absolutely certain what I want out of a drawing. Having light, plentiful strokes at the start allows me to be expressive without being overly comittal. Whenever I find a shape I like, I give a little more than medium pressure to establish a clean line.

For beginning artists, understanding the mechanics of brush strokes is important. There are three degrees of pressure in general: soft, medium and hard. In general, hard strokes don't travel as fluidly without practice because you're exerting force downwards. Whenever you're having trouble with getting your dark lines to look right, consider using a brush that gets a dark color at a medium pressure range to see if it improves your line quality.