Yesterday, in my artist discussion group, pastel artist Michael Fisher shared his preliminary value sketches with us. He showed us that he did a comprehensive pencil sketch plus an additional pen sketch before beginning a painting. He goes to that much trouble because 1) he wants to be very certain of his design and values and 2) he actually enjoys the decision-making process. Michael generally uses just three values plus white. I often do a pencil sketch before beginning a painting, but I haven't used pens very often. I wanted to try out Michael's "system" today, so I bought some Tombow pens in just 3 values. I chose a simple but dramatic black and white photo reference (thank you, unknown photographer, who provided a nice composition--half the work was done for me). I sketched the scene in pencil and repeated it in pen. Then I mixed up values to match the pens. I placed the three values where they belonged in the painting... and though there are a couple places too dark I'm satisfied that this is another good value exercise. Proper values is where it is at! Next time I'll do another painting, assigning colors (that match the values) to the same reference.
1. photo reference 2. pencil sketch 3. pen sketch 4. pens and paint 5. final painting