Before and after highlighting

Highlighting is cool because it broadens the tonal width of your drawings. By just going in and putting a bright white in the right areas, the drawing ends up looking entirely different because all of the old whites look like mid-tones. I’m glad I was able to salvage the nose and add more clarity to the face.


Before Highlighting


After highlights (and some mid-tone surgery and texture work if we’re being completely honest):

Winter Cover

Still need to clean up the hair. and window. I’m really excited to become better at doing this extra phase in the drawings I do because its already giving me great results. There’s still some major issues with certain areas in the drawing, but it’s great when you find yourself improving.




9 thoughts on “Before and after highlighting

    1. Thanks Aak, I’ll do my best to summarize each step and the tools I used:

      Paper: Blick studio’s Mixed Media 9×12 80ib. tooth. It has a slight grey/sepia tinge which helps for drawings where you use a lot of white ink and charcoal.

      1: Rough outline in Micron brush pen and a .5mm Graphgear 500 drafting pencil (2b lead)

      2: Basic shadows to differentiate major and minor contour regions by outlining highlight zones. I use 005 and 03 microns for this.

      3: India ink and brush, to deepen the shadows.

      4: Black and white charcoal (extra soft) for shading the skin and roughly inserting detail out the window and around the car.

      5: Highlights and mid-tones: Went in with graphgear 500 (4b lead this time) to add midtones to skin and jacket while fleshing out some of the car and window texture-work. Used white ink and brush to fill in the outlines I’d left for highlights. This gives that emissive effect you want with a light source coming from behind.

      6: Touched up lighting in photo-shop. Mainly added a little detail to the left eye, nose, and neck here. I also darkened the hat and the darkest shadows, as ink can only get so black and it’s all about the value range for monochrome. Added a cage-like texture to the back window to give it that textured effect.

      I hope that was helpful! Feel free to ask about anything that didn’t make sense.


      1. Awesome! That was more than I expected 🙂 A good mix of techniques, it looks really great. I’m rather coward on mixing myself, just sticking to the pencil and ink colours… Maybe I should start experimenting more. Thanks! Very inspiring 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No problem, I know the feeling. Picking up charcoal a few months back scared me because it’s really hard to control. But some of the crazy black matte effects you can get make it worth it. I always keep some scratch paper nearby where I test out what I’m about to add if I’m not sure how it’ll look.

        But you don’t give yourself enough credit, your paintings have all been really unique and well done : )

        Liked by 1 person

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