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Setting Up and Sketching

Now create a new file with a white background. For a square format like this one, set the Width and Height at 800 × 800 pixels. Let’s make some practice strokes first with the brush presets that we’ll use for the drawing—the Charcoal Pencil and Square Charcoal. Choose the Brush tool; then locate the brushes in the Brush Presets list. Figure 5 shows example strokes drawn with the Charcoal Pencil (left) and the Square Charcoal (right). The Charcoal Pencil features an Erodible Point tip, and the Square Charcoal features an Erodible Square tip. Erodible tips wear flatter with use, and they can be sharpened (to their default shape) by clicking the Sharpen Tip button on the Brush panel, as shown in Figure 6.

Figure 5

Figure 5 Making practice marks with the Charcoal Pencil (left) and the Square Charcoal (right.)

Figure 6

Figure 6 The Brush panel controls include a variety of Brush Tip Shape pane options, plus the useful Sharpen Tip button.

After you’re finished exploring the brushes, clear the canvas of your practice marks by choosing Select > All and then pressing the Backspace/Delete key.

For my sketch, I used the Charcoal Pencil (sized to 5 pixels) to rough in the basic shapes, using loose, simple strokes. As Figure 7 shows, I added an imaginary horizon line to help create more of a sense of space.

Figure 7

Figure 7 I drew this line sketch with the Charcoal Pencil.

Now you’re ready to sketch! Choose the Brush tool; then select the Charcoal Pencil in the Brush Presets list. Choose a dark gray in the Color panel. Study your subject, allowing your eye to trace around its forms. The Charcoal Pencil is a versatile tool. Keep your wrist loose, applying more pressure to your stylus when you want to emphasize a line with the Charcoal Pencil (by making it darker). Apply less pressure when you want lighter lines. As you draw, continue to take time to observe your subject.

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