Looking at gradations of tone by working down a piece of paper applying more pressure.  To begin, I started with light pressure on charcoal and tried to fill an A4 sheet with consistently darker marks from top to bottom, being the darkest tone at the bottom.  This exercise was harder than it sounded.  Starting with light pressure and trying to determine how much pressure to apply to increase it slowly enough to fill the whole page was difficult.  The first time, I’d already got to a dark point half way down the page.  Reversing this, starting with the most pressure seemed a lot easier to control the lightening of the charcoal going down the page.

The same exercises smoothed over with kitchen roll to blur the lines a little and make the graduation  flow better:


I then tried the same exercise with an 8B graphite pencil and black ink.

The graphite was a lot quicker to work with but there’s less of a contrast. The first ink picture was done by adding more water with the brush, the second was laying down a layer of black ink and then spraying with water to see if it would produce a graduated effect. There was no control over the spraying technique, so although it did go from dark to light, as you can see there are darker lines running through the palest tone, otherwise it would’ve created a soft graduation of tone.


I did some further experimenting with creating depths of tone using dots and crosshatching with both pen and pencil.

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I prefer the effect from the dots, and think the greatest contrast in tone comes from varying dots sizes in pen, however, I prefer the look from using the same size dots and varying the amount to deepen the tone.

I went on to look at pointillism and in particular the black and white works of Georges Seurat.  Please click here for further information: Tone and Georges Seurat