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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Badrock

What the art gurus aren’t telling you ...

There is a distinct difference between the pros and the wannabes when it comes to realistic art. Whilst there is a plethora of techniques, tricks and tips out there, in this blog you will learn about the importance utilising soft edges.

Comic representation uses lines around the outside of its art to define the subject. However, we want to create a realistic portrayal of our subject and we do this by using a variety of techniques at and around the edge of our artwork instead of drawing a clear boundary. We want to create highlights and shadows, hard and soft edges.

Check out my portrait below. I a huge fan of the show Vanity Fair, so I decided to sketch out one of the lead characters.

In this picture I have created a variety of art techniques that you can apply to the edges of your art.

But, how do we draw a subject without lines? Start with a faint outline using a pencil from the H range, I prefer a 2H or a 3H graded pencil. I use it very lightly, the led is still soft enough to erase without leaving lines, but hard enough to ensure the markings are light as to not intrude on the finished product. As you progress through your picture, gradually erase or blend out the outlines.

When will I need to use soft edges?

  • When drawing shadows

  • When a subject is far away

  • When drawing reflections

As the lady is standing at the edge of the ocean shore, I really wanted to create a sense of movement. To achieve this, I shaded up to the edges of her dress, shading lighter as I got closer to the boundaries. I also used this technique for all of my shadow boundaries. I sharpened up the edges of the bonnet ribbon to bring it forward and kept the features of the feathers and bonnet really soft, again, smudging the edges with a paper stump and shading up to the edge. Then, I used power points in the directions of the wind to reinforce the sense of movement.

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