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The Ghosting-in Method to Start a Drawing

It can be very intimidating to be faced with the blank page when starting a new drawing. One thing my friend and mentor, Robert Barrett, once said gets to the crux of the problem: "The first line is always right. It's when you add the second line that things go awry."

It can be scary to add that second line. You're still a virtuoso artist until pen finally meets paper. But never fear! In this post I will outline how to approach any subject in a manner that removes the fright of the fresh sheet.

In this post we will discuss:

Ghosting it in: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Place Tick Marks--Tick paper on top, bottom, and sides to indicate general placement of your subject

Step 2: Block in Overall Area of Subject--use side of pencil/willow charcoal to lightly block in gestalt with back-and-forth motion

Step 3: Indicate General Landmarks--Break up block-in into smaller divisions to indicate more specific placement

Step 4: Block in Darks--add more tone to the shadow areas of your drawing

Step 5: Lift out Lights--Using a kneaded eraser, pull out where the light hits the form

Step 6: Measure-- Use triangulation, angles, and subdivisions to adjust landmark placement to increase accuracy

Step 7: Strengthen and Clarify-- Work from general to specific as you slowly & carefully improve the accuracy of your drawing


For a quick overview of the steps, see the video below:

For a longer, more comprehensive look, view this video:

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