Pencil techniques

Sketching up stories, concepts and designs with  pencil

Pencil drawings and text by Frits Ahlefeldt

I often use pencils to sketch up concepts and ideas, and from time to time I work with pencils in the finished drawings. pencils give a more “unfinished”somehow, like the drawing is something that was made to catch an idea and inspire, more than to be a finished work. 

Story sketching

Vulture story character sketch

Pencil sketching can be used in many ways in stories, from character sketching, to Storyboards, place designs, story-paths, clothes, tools etc. It is a way to visualize and develop both the story-line, the characters and the story map the narrative moves through. Sometimes I also use pencils in cartoons and stories, that are later drawn over with ink and then the pencil erased – but they started out as pencil drawings – especially when drawing up more complex scenes and situations.

Concept sketching

Pencil sketch with watercolor of a backpack with wheels. concept by Frits Ahlefeldt
Concept sketch of self-driving backpack. Concept idea by Frits Ahlefeldt

When I develop ideas, concepts or research designs I sometimes do it in pencil, it is a simple and fast way to think up new understandings of how things might work. Even using an eraser from time to time it is a help to see a certain composition or design.  – combining the pencil with watercolors gives a more finished look.

Visual notes

Moleskine pencil sketch by Frits Ahlefeldt
Logbook sketch from a hike

Drawing fast sketches in notebooks is one of the most classic ways designers, writers, researchers and scientists use pencils. It is fast, can be done everywhere, even on museums that will not accept anything else. And is maybe the quickest way to pin down ideas before they fly away. Both at day, and if you wake up in the middle of the night, or are stopping quick before a bridge on the road.

Examples of some of my pencil drawings

My collection of pencil drawings are one of my collections of different illustration and drawing styles: see the others here: 

Pure watercolor techniques

Ink and watercolor techniques

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