David Neace Artist

When I begin a drawing, especially one modeled after a photo, I go into this with the understanding with myself that I am going to have to make some mid drawing adjustments.


This is one of the main reasons that I draw in detail with graphite first then come back and add coloring. I will do up to four layers of color on some objects, so it is absolutley critical that I have the right shapes. When I start to color in, I use my Verithins, the harder pencils, to add outlines and base color. The Verithins are easy to erase and blend as a base for other color.


Original Tower


Tower re-worked and projection lines adjusted.

The first drawing shows the tower in the background with the original configuration that I had drawn. Something kept nagging me and I took another look at the Chicago Trade building and realized I had the pattern wrong for the front of the building. Since I had drawn this in with the Verithins first, I had no problem erasing and adding in a new front. I then statred adding the softer Prismacolors with a blending solvent and a neutral blending pencil. Sometimes I will use the Verithin pencils of the same color as a blender.

As I complete the work, you will notice I work left to right and top to bottom, the undrawn area becomes more clear and I can make adjustments to projection (perspective) of the lines. I re-adjusted the contour lines of the Zephyr and the relationship of the platform, tracks and the train as it exits the terminal.


I will continue to refine lines and angles as I complete each section. This is what I mean when I say that I will have drawn this at least 4 times before I am finished.


I sometimes go at a snail's pace, or it seems that way to me, but I have learned not to rush even though I want to have it done. "now".


As you can see in the above image that I have started adding color to the image. I have worked across the middle ( I am right handed so I work left to right and top to bottom). At this point, I will spend several hour straightening any lines and correcting any wrong angles (perspective, projection). I now have enough of the image colored that I can also make any color correction to my palette.

With this work I am going to stay with the warm colors and contrast with some cool blocks of color distributed throughout the work to give some balance.

I do not work fast and I really wonder about my sanity for even starting this. I spent over 340 hours on "Earth 1946" and it was a smaller work than this. This one seems to be going faster and so far I am pleased with it.



This is the second post for my new work in colored pencil.


After I finished the first drawing in graphite (4H), I am now ready to start laying doen the colors. I started with the tower in the center. I am using, Sand, Tuscan Red, Orange, Yellow Ochre, Mineral Orange, Cream, Black and White. Prismacolor and Verithin are the pencils I am using.


For the darker areas of the tower, I first add Tuscan Red using the Verithin pencil, then I smooth (burnish) it with Yellow Ochre. This gives it a nice feel of warmth. I have found that Tuscan Red can be used in a variety of colors, both cool and warm. The overall work will be on the warm side.


Choosing your color palate: This should be decided before you start your work.


The questions you should ask yourself should be related to the work you are doing. I am currently doing an outdoor urban scene. I am conveting a black and white photo to full color. The only clue I have to what season I am drawing are the clothes the people are wearing in the lower left corner of the photo. I am going with late spring or early summer since this is Chicago and is in the Northern section of the United States. The location can make a big difference in lighting as well as the time of day and season.


The detail of the windows are very time consuming and require a good steady hand. I use a magnifying desk lamp to do the finer details.


So far I have about 36 hours invested in this work. If you have any questions let me know.



Materials used

Strathmore 400 series watercolor paper 19 x 25

Prismacolor and Verithin Pencils

Drawing tools; ruler, triangle, eliptical templete, circle templete, bendable curve, kneaded erasure, nylon erasure, T-square, 4H pencil


The work I am starting now will be done in colored pencil and I thought that I might take you along on the journey, if you so desire. This is a complex image with many perspective lines and the bonus of not being squared with the paper. What I mean by this is that on close inspection of the image, you will notice that the tower in the background leans to the left and the top edges of the buildings are not level with the bottom of the image. In the image below I have drawn in the projection lines that are involved with this drawing. This is a very important step in drawing. If you get the angles wrong, no matter how well drawn each of the elements are drawn, it will still look off. By completely drawing the image first, I can visually see any poor alignment issues I may have, before I start adding color.


One of the most important things you need to keep in mind when you start a new work is to keep it within your range of skills. If you are just beginning to draw or just starting to use graphite and/or colored pencils, keep it simple. Every piece of work you do should be a learning experience for you. I started with doing simple images of barns and trees and slowly over the decades took on more and more difficult and complex images.


Looking through my photos, I decided to do another urban scene. My father had sent this postcard from Chicago as he was headed overseas during WWII. I have used parts of this image in other drawings, but now I want to do this scene.

Original Grogan photo (public domain)


I use a projector to get a rough outline of the work onto the paper.  I use an Artograph projector and I outline enough of the image for placement and a general perspective. The first thing I do is change the tone of the image to one that is lighter and I can see the different building and shapes (see image bleow)

Image lighted to better see details.


I will be changing some aspects of the photo to add my own touch and style. I have reference photos of the Zephr train and of the Chicago Trade Building from different angles. I am also plan on filling in the right side of the Zephr engine, as well as some of the details of the LaSalle Street Station while deleting other aspects that have no added value for the drawing. I will be changing some of the buildings to better help with the perspective (depth) of the drawing.


Now as an artist, there are steps we can take to adjust this type of situation. In my drawing I have squared the buildings with the edges of the paper while still leaving the tower to slant slightly to the left. Working from the top of the tower downward, I slowly leveled out the building to match those in front and to each side. This is illustrated in the photo with the green lines.



Original image with original projections

Image with new adjusted projection lines.


Base drawing before coloring.


Once I have a rough outline of the overall image I then start refining the lines and making adjustments for perspectives ( sorry about the poor quality of the image above). I do a complete drawing of everything I want to include in the work using a 4H pencil. Once I have the placement of all the details, I will start coloring starting with the tower.


So far, this has taken me about 24 hours of drawing to get this far. I will be using Prismacolor and Verithin pencils and maybe some gel pens as needed. The finished size will be within the 19 x 25 inch range.








This is partof my how-to series. The first blogs will deal with subject matter, equipment, and simple exercises to gain control with your drawing or painting tools. I am a self taught artist and I work in graphite, colored pencil and inks. If this can helps one person in their journey of visual expression, then I am successful.


One of the most daunting things that every artist faces is "what do I draw". If you are a beginning artist this can be the most intimidating decision you will make. If you choose something that is beyond your grasp, then you are setting yourself up for dissapointment and fustration.


Often we choose something that resonates within us, but if you are a beginner or are teaching yourself, we sometimes do not make the right decision. I draw from photo's and do freehand work. One of the tools I use is an Artograph projector to enlarge a photo to scale, especially one that is complex.


For the artists who are just beginning to get their mojo happining, the simple and familiar subjects are a great place to start. Simple lines, shadows and tones are all a part of the learning process.  Leariing to shade and apply tones is very important for the colored pencil artist. I started my drawing life by using graphite as my medium. The great thing about drawing in graphite pencil, it is easy to correct and some amazing results can be achieved. I only moved on to color when I felt confident with my grey tone skills.


The next item you should consider is the paper you are working with. A good sketch pad or notebook with quality paper is essential to achieve quality work, especially if you are going to want to market your work. Their are so many papers and boards on which ot draw it almost makes you dizzy. I use a good 140lb coldpress watercolor paper. Why? It is durable to my style of drawing and I have used this type of paper for decaces. I know how far I can push the paper and how many layers it will take before I erase or burnish a hole into it.(not a fun thing to do). You have to experiment for a while and see what paper is best for your style of work. There are many wonderful books available today that speak about papers, equipment, and doing textures.


The type of pencils you use should be a professional grade. Their are many to choose from, all of them will perform well. If working with colored pencil, you should make a basic color chart. Why? Your pressure with the pencil is uniquely yours, the depth of color and layering is strickly under your control. This chart is for you alone. This gives you an idea about the color you are using and a quick visualiztion of a tone.

Something simple to draw.
Here is a photo of a Japaneese Pussy Willow bud that you are welcome to download, copy and draw. This was taken in my backyard in 2006. It is simple in that it has few lines, but if you look closely at the bark, there is a lot of shading and texture that could make this jump off the page. There is also a challenge to do the fuzzy background.

On the other side of this, do not let yourself be intimidated by attempting something that is more challenging. Don't bully yourself yourself by constantly being negative with your work or afraid to display your art. (We are our own worst enemies).




The tips and thoughts that I express here are more for the beginner and mid-level artists. Being a self-taught artist, I have had to learn a lot of this through trial and error, which is costly to a person living on a small budget. So I am talking about ways to help you get the image to paper with clear detail and possibly less fustration.


Learning to draw "what you see" is one of the most challenging things that a lot of artists encounter.  Photos are one of the tools that help me "see" better. With the higher resolution on most computer monitors, I can enlarge the photo almost to the individual pixel, but that alone is not "seeing", unless you are into pointilism. 


University of Ky Digital Photo Archives, Used with Permission

Understaniding the subject you are drawing is most important, especially if you want to do realism or hyper-realistic drawings. I usually take the photo I am going to use for reference and then "flaten" the image, reducing the midtone range and converting the photo to b/w or with a primary color tint. Surprisingly, this will bring out some detail that you might have missed just using the photo without enhancment..

University of Ky Digital Photo Archives, Used with Permission


You can see from the two photos, the pinkish one is easier to identify details of the building and even the store front windows.


I am a cartographer by trade. This means I had on-the-job training to acquire the skills needed to work in the printing field. Many overlook the relevence of a career in graphics production. This is where I honed my eye hand co-ordination and developed a feather like touch with the Rapidograph pens, crow quill pens and hand-held engravers that cut .002 lines without digging into the base of scribe coated Mylar. I learned about everything from how to "Kern" type and fonts/sizes to esthestics of type placement. I gained knowledge in the entire printing process, from conception to packaging.


I bring this up because I see so many beginning artist not using the tools available to them. Rulers, bendable curves, templates with circles, elipeses, squares, T-squares and triangles. These are aids that can make a difference if you work is "squared" with your paper or canvas and for creating more accurate perspectives.


As artists, we all feel the need to be able to draw freehand and at the same time be extremley accurate. These tools will help you achieve that goal. Think of the use of them as "training wheels" for you to create. Read about your subject, if drawing a house, learn about roof pitch and angles. There is a lot of free info available to everyone. When I started drawing in the late 50's, all I had was, a couple of pencils and a few crow quill pens plus a gum and keaded erasure.


If this information helps just one person, I have done well


The work you see within my website is mostly colored pencil. For some reason, which no one can explain, people, in general, seem to think that drawing with pencil is somehow amateur art and not to be taken seriously.

What would the Maters of art think of this attitude toward pencil art now?  Pencil art has been around over 450 years since the first graphite mines were discovered in England 1565. All the great artists have drawn out their work, we can see evidence of this now as journals and sketches are available of the masters.

When you view my work, no matter the medium, you are looking at decades of learning and developing skills. My work with mapping, graphics, cosmetology and theater have given me a strong background in design as well as presentation. If I changed the medium description to "oil, acrylic or watercolor", would that make the art more valid?

As a world view in general, the art market is flooded with images. The modern artist of today is in competition with computer and digital drawings, some of them fantastically amazing. As a paper and pencil artist, such as myself, this confuses me. Why would more validity be given to images drawn on a computer than art created by an artists hand placed against paper or canvas? I understand the lure of creating art using a computer, I have done so myself.

But...the feel of a pencil or brush in my hand, watching the artwork come to life because of my pencil strokes or hand blending is very rewarding on many levels. With computer generated art, there is no physical original image that is viewable without a device of some kind. With original art created on paper or canvas, no matter what, you have something to physically hold.

I am blessed that I have this skill and ability within me. To be able to take a blank sheet of paper and create a image just using my physical and mental skills is an awesome feeling.

I am hoping that I am able to change the perception of graphite and colored pencil through my manually produced art. For those of you who want to see more of this style of work on an extraordinary level, visit the Colored Pencil Society of America,  http://www.cpsa.org/ .


Out of My Mind










This is my first blog in what I hope to be many. This new website is wonderful and I hope that everyone enjoys their vist. There are still a few kinks to work out but all in all, this is wonderful. My images are sharp and clear.


I have also included links to my Fine Art America page, you can view it here:




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