Can graphite drawing skills boost watercolor skills?

The short answer is yes. If you are completely new to watercolor then having some experience with graphite will definitely make the journey a lot easier. Although learning how to use graphite is not necessary to develop your watercolor painting skills it can be helpful by allowing you to focus more on value and perspective.

Focusing on perspective and value

Perspective– When using graphite pencils to create drawings you can increase the accuracy of perspective. Perspective is the angle at which a person views a certain object. The image below shows two different drawings of the same cube. Each one is drawn from different perspectives; one from below and the other from above.

Perspective is also important when comparing the size of certain objects to each other. For example, if you draw a bush next to a small house you can’t make the bush bigger than the house because that is unrealistic.

Drawing objects from different perspectives will change the way an object looks and therefore, changes the way the whole painting looks.

Value- Value refers to the different shades of lightness and darkness of a color. When using graphite pencils distinguishing between different values is much easier because there’s only one color to work with.

Using graphite can most certainly assist in helping you improve your observational skills when it comes to different values. Value helps add depth and dimension to your paintings and graphite helps keep you from getting confused by different colors. At the same time you can practice creating monochromatic paintings (paintings created using only one pigment with different values).

Learn about some watercolor value exercises you can try to help improve your skills.

In the image above, you can see different values of graphite pencils with different levels of softness and hardness. (Hb, 2b, 4b, 6b, 12b).

Basics of graphite drawing

What you need to begin?

One of the advantages of using graphite pencils is that you don’t require too much material. Keep it simple.

  • Graphite pencils- graphite pencils are made according to different levels of softness or hardness. This results in different shades (darker to lighter) when using the pencils. 
    • Hb, 2b, 4b, 6b, 12b- These are different levels of thickness with Hb being the lightest and 12b being the darkest (in this list). You’ll find the level of thickness written around the ends of most pencils.
  • Kneaded eraser- You can use a normal eraser however I find that kneaded erasers are far more effective and they last longer.
  • Paper- Unlike watercolors, you don’t need to be too particular about the paper you use. You can simply use white printer paper.

Overall this post implies that although drawing with graphite can assist with helping you improve your watercolor skills it is not necessary. This is also because the best way to improve with watercolors is by practicing with them and becoming familiar with how they work.

Please leave a comment down below if you’d be interested in learning more about perspective and value when it comes to watercolor painting. If you found this post helpful, enjoyed the content or have any questions please leave a comment below.

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