I’m reading Creative Illustration by Andrew Loomis and in the chapter on “Line” there are a few examples of preliminary studies drawn on toned paper. As he explains it, the grey tone acts as the light value and pencil works for the halftones and darks. White is saved exclusively for highlights and white areas.
I don’t have any toned paper so I used a very watery wash of black gouache with 3″ badger mottler. It was my first time using this brush, which my dad had given me, and it laid down a wash in my Canson XL Mix Media sketchbook so nicely!
I recently bought some woodless graphite pencils at the art store so I used the 8B for the darkest values and HB for the halftones (mid values). For the white, I brushed on Copic Opaque White.
The middle sketch is of some garlic. My drawing is a mess, but I love the way the white ink looks with the pencil lines.
I found that by starting with the paper toned as the light value and using four total values instead of three, it was a tiny bit easier for me to break the reference photo down into main areas of like values. The biggest challenge for me with these right now is that with some of the photos I assign a value to an area in my sketch, but as I keep going realize that it was too dark or too light.
I’d like to really focus on improving how I group the dark, mid, light, and white areas with each other so that the overall sketch makes sense. Which might mean getting much looser and rougher with the initial sketch so that I can put more emphasis on developing the value skills.