These harder elements of the landscape are a natural subject for the linear nature of pencil. It is easy to get carried away with detail, however, and this section spends some time looking at techniques which enable us to give the impression of buildings without spending too much time drawing every brick.Not everyone who reads this website has access to a wide range of buildings ( we have readers from all corners of the world ). The subjects looked at here are the typical buildings of the UK and Europe
Deep mortar lines showing dark shadows in the the sunlight
Lines of sandy coloured mortar and sandy bricks. In some cases only the shadow shows where the mortar line runs
Mortar with only very shallow indentation, but very visible through the use of white mortar.Note the varied colour bricks
A old stone wall partly rebuilt with modern brick
Above we see four examples of the walls of brick structuresAnother set of elements in a landscape, are the stone and other hard surfaces of buildings and constructions ( like farm walls ).Bricks and stone are often various coloured and influenced by light and shade - which gives the surface shape and solidity. Tiles can offer problems when the budding artist tries to get the correct perspective into the way a roof falls. We will look at colour, shadow and construction in this section and will use a number of my own photographs. You are advised to spend time looking at similar surfaces in your own environment and also take photos of your own to build up a reference library, as wall types vary a great deal in the same English Town and County, never mind within the UK and still less throughout the world
Bricks and tiles are usually made from baked clay, and as natural clay has many colours, bricks will vary a great deal in colour depending on the clay, the amount of ‘cooking’, the impurities within the clay and treatment of the surface in manufacture. If you want to see a dazzling range of colour types from different brick makes, look at www.weinerberger.com or www.ibstock.co.uk. Both of these sites show a wide range of UK brick types. Have a look at Google Images - searching under ‘brick wall’ and you will, again, find a huge range of styles and colours. Modern bricklaying normally shows around 18% mortar - and this will affect the overall appearance of a wall ( darker or lighter than the general brick colour depending on mortar colour ).Older walls show much less mortar - see the old stone wall in the view above ( and in detail below ) right. This house wall in Somerset, shows very little in the way of an edge to the stone blocks, the stone being cut very accurately to size. About the only indication of stone shape is seen in the feint edges showing in the shadow of the sunlight.
The stone in this wall (Right) has been cut from a quarry in the immediate area of the house so all the stone is of identical colour and has weathered over many years in the same wayWhere stones are imported from a wider area and cut to fit, we can get quite interesting wall effects (below)
Points to observe in the wall you are painting, are - apart from the general colour - the way the stones or bricks are laid, whether they were new or re-cycled, and how the sunlight and shadow shows up the shapes from the way the edges appear - or the mortar line is inset.Look again at the examples at the head of this page, how some bricks are laid long edge showing and how some are laid end on so that they strengthen the wall by bridging two lines of brick. Most modern brick houses have walls two bricks deep with a cavity between to provide insulation and dry inner walls. This is not a treatise on bricklaying, but you do need a small amount of knowledge to understand and show brick walls correctly. Bricklaying patterns also vary a great deal, but virtually all depend on an overlap of brick or stone over joints to hold the wall together. Those patterns of brick or stone wall laying will vary a great deal and most walls will show both small and large brick edges on the outer surface.The important factor in portraying a brick or stone wall is to get the varied colours showing, the fact that individual bricks will have different colours, and that the mortar line (if there is one) will usually be inset and therefore the all important shadows will be seen which give the stone or brick shape and solidity in your drawing. Bear in mind that every brick does not have to be shown in detail (unless you wish to, of course !). It is quite normal to lay down an overall colour layer and then define some areas of individual bricks.If you decide to take this approach, remember the use of indented line to keep the image of the mortar line free of the general colour layer.Let us look at some examples of techniques to show lines of bricks and areas of stone.This first set of illustrations are from the exercise called ‘Garden Arch’ - see step by step tutorials for more details.
In this example, the brickwork is the frame to the picture - which is the view through the archway. We don’t need to spend too much time on each brick, we merely need to get a believable impression of the brickwork.In the first image ( right ) overall colour has been laid down with areas of mortar left white. You will note that in many cases the bricks will also have lighter areas on the surface where they have aged. Check which direction the sunlight is coming from and make sure that all your sunlit edges correspond. The lit edge of each brick will usually be the top edge where it stands proud of the mortar. A problem will arise when you get bricks laid in an arch, as in this case, and each brick will have to be checked against your reference to make sure your lit and shadow edges correspond to the light fall.Once you are sure that the lines of bricks are laid down correctly on your paper, you can build up the colour - as in the second image here. See how I have worked the bricks where they will be visible to the right and left of the arch behind the creeper. Doing this ensures that you keep your lines of mortar consistent. Remember that you don’t darken the bricks for shadow with black. I used darker reds and violets in this case and found the darks of sepia ( a brown ) and indigo ( a blue ) very useful where the creeper left a very deep shadow showing against the light green.I will go on to look in more detail at the way light shows up the shape of bricks.
When you are working an image with lines of bricks, there is no need to carefully complete each brick - unless that is your preferred style. Generally an impression of bricks will suffice with just a few carefully completed at critical points in the area of maximum focus ( where you expect your viewer to look most closely ). If your building or wall is straight in front of the viewer, there will be no perspective involved as the lines of mortar will be exactly horizontal and usually evenly spaced. In most cases, however, the view will involve a building or wall at an angle to the viewer and life gets a little more complicated as perspective comes into play. You DO need to have a basic understanding of how lines converge as they recede and how the angles work. There is a section on Perspective in ‘Art Points’ later in the site. If you are not totally clear about vanishing points and perspective, then please read through that section - it should help a great deal with you getting convincing brickwork.The image below gives a simplified view of a line of bricks. Firstly note that the ‘horizontal’ mortar lines are not horizontal. They are shown at different angles converging on a point to the left ( about 18 inches away on my original ).This point will be at eye level in the distance and may be way off the paper - it depends on the angle the wall is sited to the viewer. This is called the ‘vanishing point’ - where the wall would vanish if it were completed for as far as it could be seen. The horizontal length of each brick gets greater as it gets nearer. There is a way of calculating this exactly, and it is shown in the section on perspective, but for the present, I have merely drawn the spacing by eye.The point of this drawing is to highlight the fact that you need to sketch light lines on to the working surface to get your perspective right before you work the bricks. The next step is to ensure that you leave the light edges (above and to the right in my example) in either white or light coloured pigment and - after shading in the mid tone, apply the shadow (to the bottom and left edges in my example). This gives the impression of the inset mortar and the raised edges of brick
Let us now look at the process of showing a dry stone wall - the type often seen in Northern England and Scotland around farmland. Dry Stone walls are made with no cement and rely entirely on the skill of the local craftsman to use local materials found in and around the farm. Larger stones are used as the base and then progressive layers of stones are fitted into the wall to make a solid structure to keep animals in designated areas. On land where the only natural resource is the stones lying around, this makes a good and quite permanent ‘fence’ which can last for 100 years or more with occasional maintenence.
AS you will see from these examples from the Yorkshire Dales near Richmond, the stones ‘weather’ and show areas of light and dark stone - but all very much in keeping with the landscape.There is no mortar and the wall is of a quite uniform colour, highlighted against the landscape behind it, but given form by the dark areas of shadow within the wall. This makes it much easier to reproduce as the technique is to first apply the lightest colour, then apply successively darker tones finishing off with a final layer of your darkest grey/brown - often Sepia.Try to avoid using Black. The colour is too ‘dead’
Note how the wall is constructed in layers with a final topping of stones laid vertically. In the photo (top) above there has been some aging of the wall with some loss of stone to the near right. The wall may have been lightly repaired but the lines of stone as originally laid are now disrupted and this gives some foreground interest
Here is an example of a dry stone wall worked in Coloured Pencil on a Hot Pressed Watercolour paper.The paper has some grain to it, so the effect is to duplicate the gritty effect of the stone where the pigment hits and misses the surface.The lowest image shows the detail larger than actual size.Note how the lower portion of the wall is shadowed to highlight the long green grass and there is also deep shadow in the lower parts of the grass which brings up the light catching the long grass tops.The grass is drawn in with long vertical strokes, the wall stones are generally (but not always) horizontal and follow the line of the wallThe top of the wall is lit by the sunlight and the areas of shadow give shape to the individual stones within the wall.Try to select a reference that has good areas of contrasting light. Here the foreground shadow emphasizes the sunlit grass in the field beyond.
BRICK STONE & TILE - ROOF SURFACES 2
BRICK STONE & TILE - WALL SURFACES 1
In this section we will be looking at roof surfaces in general - so that means not only tiles, but thatch ( roofs covered with reeds or straw ), stone and tiles of many different types - many of them giving challenges to the artistTILES can be tricky.Perspective comes into play a lot, and not only do we have the matter of the tiles on an average roof appearing to reduce in size as they get further away, through normal perspective, but we have to take account of the fact that the roof is usually sloping as well - introducing a further perspective into the equation.Let us look first at a particular roof covered in interlocking tiles and compare this with a roof covered in old traditional tiles and finally one covered with slates
(Left ) Modern concrete interlocking tiles(above ) traditional clay baked tiles
Hand cut / quarried stone tiles
Clay tiles from mediterranean countries
You will see from these illustrations that roofing surfaces can vary a great deal and getting those lines of tiles correctly shown can be a challenge. I can’t give you a simple way of portraying the different tile types - there would be no point in filling pages of the website with information that will have very little use. What I can do, is give you a guide on how to approach the drawing of the lines of tiles in correct proportion and perspective.Firstly consider that our roof has tiles which appear larger the closer they are to the viewer and smaller the further they are away. This is a natural law of perspective. Tiles therefore obey perspective in two directions
In the sketch here, you will see that there are two ‘vanishing points’ a horizontal on to the right at ‘A’ where the horizontal lines of the roof would vanish if they continued to the distance, and the much further away vanishing point at B, up in the sky, where the sloping surfaces would similarly disappear from sight if they went high enough.As you will see, I have halved the vertical height of the roof and then marked the quarter points. I have then sketched in a single tile at each corner - upper right at C and lower left at D. These are in proportion to the scale of the roof and you can readily see how much larger the left hand and nearer tile is compared to the upper right hand one.So how on earth do we make sure that we have correctly drawn in all the tiles ?In a couple of words……. We don’t. We give an impression of the tiles, making sure that they obey the basic laws of perspective. Depending on the type of tiles and the height and slope of the roof, there will be a given number of rows of tiles, but we don’t need to go there. Our picture simply needs to give a close approximation of those rows.Provided we get the shape of the roof correct, and observe the way the lines of tiles run, we can take a section of roof, and mark half way spots along the roof edge, then halve those sections and then halve again. As in the sketch below, the tiles will then observe correct proportion.
Have a rough count of the actual number of rows of tiles and judge how to approach the task. In the study above, I have shown there to be 8 rows of tiles. In fact there were many more, so your next option here would be 16 rows ( by halving the spaces shown above ).If you measure 3 equal spaces at each end of the roof when you start - instead of two - and then halve those spaces and halve again, you will finish up with 12 rows (or 24). In fact you will probably only need to show an overall indication of the individual tiles so the essential ones are those nearer to the viewer - in the bottom right hand corner. Horizontal shadow lines and the colour and shading will then tell the viewer that he ( or she ) is looking at a tiled roof.
If we are looking at shaped tiles - as in this tiled barn in Somerset UK, then there will be clearer shadow lines which in the case of the image to the right, will show a ripple effect where they overlap. Make sure that your colours show the vertical shapes as well as you can see here the whites and reds.In French Provence and other warmer climates, more unique shapes to tiles can mean that your shadow lines can run in both directions …..see the pictures below.
In more northern countries ( to the left is Talinn in Estonia ) the hard winters mean that roofs need to be steeper to shed snow more easily, so roofs tend to have more rows of tiles which are similarly ‘U’ shaped to provide a double layer of protection - this time from the cold rather than the heat.
To sum up drawing out tiled roofs, take some care in working out the number of rows of tiles you need ( approximately ) and give an impression of the shape of the nearest tiles and the way the sizes and shapes change with perspective. Put down a pattern in a dark/cool colour to show the shadow areas, then look at the overall colour the roof will display. That colour is important, so get a base coat down over the shadow pattern and then work with the roof in a similar way the the approach you would use with fur on an animal ….. Keep your strokes going in the direction the tiles are laid. Keep the pencil strokes light and observe any areas where the roof shows up as being much lighter - as in that picture of the Somerset barn.And above all … don’t get stressed about doing every tile
Now let us have a quick look at other roof types - such as Thatch. For those of you who are outside the UK and in other climates, thatch used to be common in England and also in Brittany and Normandy in France. It can still be seen on old cottage properties in rural England though there is a fire risk and thatch needs regular upkeep so property owners tend to replace it with more modern roofing when they get the chance. I have also seen thatch used in Scandinavia. Thatch can be done with reed or straw, the finished roof can look superb and it stays warm in winter and cool in summer. If not maintained, it can be attacked by birds and vermin for building materials.
As you will see from the above images, thatch changes colour over time, but the common thing about drawing and painting thatch, is the the need to ensure that the grain of the fibres is observed, and a further point to watch is the way that thatch often overhangs windows and gives a very much darker edge to your roofline. Thatch is laid in layers and the top layer is laid to shed rain, with a top line along the crown of the roof often laid in a pattern. Thatched cottages often have chimneys separated from the roof to keep the risk of fire down. Irish and Scottish thatch is often seen with solid end walls as shown below.
I will extend the topic on roofing when I get the next opportunity, but my final image (for now ) is a wooden tiled roof. I have seen these in Canada and also in Scandinavia where reed/straw is in short supply and timber is in abundance. You get some lovely colours in the old wood surfaces where algae has grown.