Creating Depth on Drafting Film

Creating Depth on Drafting Film

A reader recently sent me a photo of a work-in-progress. She wanted advice on fixing it, and I could quickly see that she was having difficulty creating depth on drafting film.

Since a lot of you are starting to use drafting film, you may also be having difficulties in this area. So I asked her permission to share her work-in-progress images and bits of our conversation. She graciously agreed.

Creating Depth on Drafting Film

For reference, here’s the photo the reader is working from. It’s one of her own.

Creating Depth on Drafting Film

Here is her portrait. You can see she’s done a masterful job drawing hair and the unique coloring on this dog.

The Problem

The problem is that the hindquarters and chest are about the same brightness and value range in the artwork. That makes them look like they’re in the same “space” from front to back, even though the chest is white and the hindquarters are darker. The result is that despite the differences in color, the hindquarters look like part of the shoulder and chest.

Those two areas need to be separated a little bit. The hindquarters need to look a little bit more distant than the chest. The colors should be lightened, and the edges softened a little bit.

But how do you accomplish that without destroying the rest of the portrait?

The Solutions with Double-Sided Drafting Film

Because the reader is working on drafting film, the fix is relatively simple, and she has two choices.

If she’s working on double-sided drafting film, she can turn the drafting film over and redraw the hindquarters on the backside of the drafting film. She should use the same colors and methods and duplicate the color pattern on the back of the film.

When she finishes with that, she can then turn the drafting film over and erase that part of the drawing from the front side of the drafting film.

The colors she puts on the back of the drafting film will look lighter from the front.

Being able to work on both sides of the support is one of the biggest advantages to working on drafting film, in my opinion.

Carrie L. Lewis

The Solutions with One-Sided Drafting Film

If she’s working on one-sided drafting film, she can’t add color to the back of the drafting film. The back of one-sided drafting film is too slick to accept color.

But another advantage of drafting film is that it’s so easy to remove color from it.

That means it’s easy to soften colors and edges by carefully removing color.

I like mounting putty for removing small amounts of color and/or for creating soft edges, so that’s the first thing I suggested.

But I also suggested removing color with a kneaded or plastic eraser if she didn’t have mounting putty. Erasers work very well for this, but more care is needed to create softer edges.

Whatever method you use, it’s important to work slowly and carefully. Stop often to review your progress and see how the area you’re working on balances with the rest of the drawing.

Another option is removing all the color on the hindquarters and color that area again with softer colors, but that would be my last choice.

A Final Option

The final suggestion was removing all the color from the hindquarters and leaving that area plain. That would probably work with this portrait, but it may not work with every drawing. So this should be a last resort.

If you’re computer savvy at all and have a decent photo editor, you could try this in the photo editor first.

The Reader’s Results

As it happened, this reader was working on double-sided drafting film. Here’s what she had to say:

I layered the back and erased the front of the paper. And it did soften it and push it back. The difference is subtle but softer, smoother, and a little more out of focus. Thank you for the advice! I will add the background now on another paper for the backing and see how it all looks put together.

Creating Depth on Drafting Film

I asked to see the finished portrait, and she agreed.

Here it is. What do you think? This is a beautiful portrait.

Creating Depth on Drafting Film

While drawing on drafting film presents a lot of challenges, it also has significant advantages. As you’ve seen from this reader’s work, you can make major changes without damaging either the paper or the rest of the portrait.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this demo. Thank you to the reader for sharing her work and experiences with you, and thank you for reading about them.

Got a question? Ask Carrie!

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