David Neace Artist

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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.








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