Contour Tone Tracings

In my sketchbook this week I've been experimenting with some tonal tracings. These are very quick to do and will hopefully help with getting a grasp of where chunks of tone are before embarking on some painting. The idea is that as you trace, you don't draw the outlines or detail, but instead contour the areas that are the same tonal value. I guess it's like a topographical map!

The result is island shapes which I've then filled in with hatching to determine the value. I traced both of these direct from my iPad screen which basically is a lightbox after all! If you do the same, just draw lightly so as not to risk damaging your iPad! These are drawn with a fine black pen into the Moleskine book. The one below is the stuff of nightmares. I definitely think the method has worked better with the larger scale face.

I also did this sketch for an idea that I'm thinking about. This is a detail of the page. I really fancy doing some double portraits which, seeing as I've not completed a single portrait painting in this series as yet, might be a bit ambitious, but more on this another time. 

Bye for now,


  1. Very inspirational,have to have a go at this.☺

  2. I love the concept. The one drawing class I took at an adult center was a nightmare, especially the portrait session. This actually look doable. Of course, I jumped on the topography when I first saw it. I've always wanted to make a quilt based on a map. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Go for it Jeannie, I think it's a great idea!

  3. Laura!
    I love this idea, you have definitely given me some great ideas with this post.
    I am a reluctant ‘drawer’ and go kicking and screaming to my sketchbook, which is why I continue to look to you for ideas to entice me in.
    Well you have definitely done it with this post.
    Thank you for your constant brilliant posts.

    1. Hi Anni, Thank you so much for such kind and generous comments. There are lots of ways to draw which don't involve what's conventionally seen as drawing. I'll be sure to cover some more ideas here on the blog! Keep going with your sketchbook!


Post a Comment