Insight into pencil scaffolding on portraiture ✏️

Here’s an insight into how I’ve improved on my ink portrait drawings lately.

Since doing Inktober and reading the tip about doing a pencil under drawing before diving straight into the ink, I’ve given that a try with some degree of success.

I’m sure that without some guidelines underneath then I’d have chucked away quite a few ink drawings over the past couple of months.

I do still do drawings directly with ink as there’s still a ‘live’ quality to those which I think might be lost otherwise. But for the portraits, which I find fairly challenging, I’m happy to have a bit of help.

So here’s what I’ve been doing, a quick pencil sketch to find the shadow shapes – I’m not sure it’s the right way but it’s working for me at the moment.

I’m still keeping it quite loose, and with minimal erasing. I only erased and redrew a small part of this one that I’d scaled completely wrong.

Can you tell who this is? Hopefully you’ll see him soon, inked in and hopefully recognisable 🤔


  1. I always do a pencil underdrawing for any ink drawing that I want to be successful. The pencil underdrawing allows me to get proportions correct and identify shadow areas prior to putting any ink to paper. On the other hand I totally agree with you that going straight to ink gives the drawing a spontaneous quality. (However, on occasion, that spontaneity leads to a drawing so hideous that it can never see the light of day. LOL)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, much hideousness has made it into my recycling bin.

      I think I’ve only chucked out a couple since October.

      Obviously I knew about doing the pencil underneath beforehand but I just wasn’t doing it for some reason. For the portraits it’s been a very helpful save.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for pointing me to Mieszko, I always find it fascinating to get these insights into past I wouldn’t otherwise have.

      It’s not him unfortunately. All I can say is that I hope you won’t be disappointed with who it is when I’ve drawn it.

      I should hopefully get to do the ink soon, just have a few bits to finish beforehand.

      Liked by 1 person

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