My experimentation with graphite powder had gotten off to slow start. My first attempt at it was on hot press illustration board. This is the board I normally use for my finished drawings and so I wanted to see how it would react and how I could incorporate it into my existing work style.
I had started by treating it a little like charcoal and toning my board. It did create a nice mid-tone that could be easily pulled out with a kneaded eraser but I was not able to get any of the rich darks that I have seen others achieve through using it dry with a brush. I then started to apply it wet with a blending stomp and denatured alcohol. It did give me the darks but it started to have a more painterly style to it when applied in that manner.
Graphite Powder on Hot Press Illustration Board using both Wet/Dry Technique:
My next attempt was to see how the graphite powder would react on a more textured surface. I started with the same technique of toning the paper first. This time I used a cold press watercolor paper. The graphite didn’t lift well using the kneaded eraser and I still couldn’t achieve the darks that I was hoping for.
They say that the third time is the charm and this seemed to ring true here as well. I decided to try a light weight vellum bristol board. There seemed to be just enough surface/slickness ratio to give me what I was looking for. As you can see below, I was able to achieve a great variety of applications all with success.
The graphite powder with denatured alcohol created ink like washes that were somewhat permanent once applied. The eraser did not erase them well but they were able to be blended out with more alcohol.
The dry brush graphite powder layered nicely and when I used the blending stomp it created nice darks. The kneaded eraser pulled out highlights easily.
Lastly, I tried a technique that I found while doing a little research on the various techniques. I used the dry brush to apply the graphite and then between layers I sprayed workable fixative on the area. This created beautiful soft layers that I was able to create great darks with.
I will continue to play with this now that I think I have found my groove with it. It is a fun variation that feels a little like painting, drawing and charcoal all combined. I like the feel of it and how it sort of brings out a new creative approach to my drawing style.
Has anyone else had experience with graphite powder and found successful methods of application or papers? Please share with us all below!