When a photograph is take in low light, you need a fast film, and the speed of the film is achieved sacrificing fine detail. Ideally, each point which is recorded on the film is very tiny. It is usually so small that you cannot see it as a single grain. But as the film speed rises, the grains get bigger and at some scale, the grain is clearly visible. In technical ideal terms, grain is undesirable. But in a work of art, whether this is photography or hand drawn, you can use grain to convey a message of some kind. A grainy image might be a smaller part of a composition. The grainy image could also be the main subject matter. An image which conveys a smokey subdued or mysterious atmosphere might benefit from a grainy texture. When drawing, you can either draw grain on smooth paper, or you can use rough paper so the texture of the paper provides the grainy appearance.
1.2.9 Tonal range
In music, tone refers to the notes which make up the music. In drawing, tone is the level of intensity of a mark on the page. This is also called value. Tonal range is a way to talk about the difference between the darkest dark, and the lightest light. A good tonal range is necessary for high contrast. The number of distinct steps between the darkest dark and the lightest light in the range will control the smoothness, detail, and general feel of the drawing. In the same way as a simple piece of music might only have a few notes, a drawing might only have a few tones. If these tones are close in value, then the tonal range is compressed. If there are only two of three values, and the range is very high, then you get a poster-like picture with high contrast. Highly detailed drawings will benefit from a high number of tonal values, but you can still produce a highly detailed drawing with very few values. Pen and ink drawings only use two values - black ink and the white paper, but it is possible to imagine a highly detailed pen and ink drawing. When we talk of tonal range, it will be in context for the piece of work at hand. We might refer to compressing or expanding the tonal range. For many, if not most graphite portraits, it is important to establish the blackest black that you can get and use it in the deepest shadows. The whiteness of the paper is naturally the other end of the tonal range. The way that you gradually take a dark area to a light area is called a transition. (See also sfumato [sub:Sfumato])
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
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spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.