Drawing a Heart and the Importance of Good Equipment

I volunteered at my daughter’s school today and got to drive her home instead of waiting in car line. I didn’t get to start any artwork until around 9:45. I decided to draw a 3D Heart. I have done so many spheres and eggs and pyramids that I figured a new shape would be fun. I didn’t just want to draw any old heart, though. I decided to draw a heart at a super weird angle!

Through this little late-night exercise, I was reminded how important good equipment can be to the final outcome of your piece?

Why, you may ask?

Because tonight was a total equipment fail.

Here are some areas where equipment makes all the difference:

  • Pencil choice. Yes there are tons of artists pencils out there. I prefer the Mars Lumographs. I like how they blend, and I am used to them. Whatever pencils you choose are probably your favorites. I guarantee you that any pencil works better than the Target Generic Mechanical Not-Really-An-HB mechanical pencil that I decided to grab. Oh yeah, success at my fingertips… (I’ve actually found that the more expensive Bic mechanicals work really well.)
  • Paper. This, again, is personal. Just not that when you buy a Michael’s Artist’s Loft Sketchbook with 100 pages, it’s not the best, most blend-able paper out there. Nor should it be. It’s a sketchbook. It’s designed for people who need to do a quick sketch of a football or a 3D heart so they can draw something and go to bed.
  • The blending stump. Until tonight, I never would have thought the blending stump you choose mattered to the finished product. I bought some new ones off Amazon. I’m not sure if they were the problem or if it was me choosing the smallest on possible for no real reason other than I wanted to save my big ones for something more “important.” Anyway, this skinny blending stump, well it didn’t. You had one job to do, Stumpy! (On another note, these stumps will go aerosol when you have to grind them up with sandpaper, so make sure they are made of something you aren’t allergic to. I’m allergic to grain, including rice and corn., and I once bought stumps made of rice paper. I don’t mind touching rice paper, but little bits of rice paper sawdust floating through the air are bad for the breathing.)
  • Eyes. You need good eyes to draw stuff. If you don’t have good eyes, improve them. Get—and wear—glasses when you are trying to draw. I was lazy and did not get my glasses. It totally shows.
  • Erasers. I need my Tombow. I was already in bed and didn’t want to get it. So I used the generic Target Mechanical Pencil eraser, which doesn’t. My heart highlights aren’t. (The paper doesn’t help the eraser, either.)

One non-equipment related item. Posture and seating. Not only does lying on your side trying to draw in bed make your neck hurt, but it also doesn’t give you a good view of your work or a good angle to draw. My work is skewed partially because of laying on my bed instead of sitting up. (The other part of the issue is probably a Michelle Error…)

Anyway, what this amounted to: I couldn’t blend anything smoothly, so the heart looks cheesy. I couldn’t erase the heart highlights, and I couldn’t see whether or not my eraser was in the right spot because 1) I couldn’t actually see that close and 2) the eraser didn’t erase enough.

Below is the heart. It’s not too bad considering, but I’m definitely seeing how equipment and art supply choices make such a big difference.

Here is the reference picture:

What about you? Have you ever had an equipment fail?


About M. B. Weston

M. B. Weston is an award-winning fantasy, pulp, young adult, steampunk, and paranormal author. Her attention to procedure and detail gives her works an authentic gritty, military feel that takes an adventure tale to the level of a true page-turner. Weston’s writing attracts both fantasy and non-fantasy readers, and her audience ranges from upper-elementary students to adults. A gifted orator, Weston has been invited as a guest speaker to numerous writing and science fiction/fantasy panels at conventions across the US, including DragonCon, BabelCon, NecronomiCon, and Alabama Phoenix Festival. She has served on panels with such authors as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J. F. Lewis, Todd McCaffrey, and Jonathan Maberry. Weston has spoken to thousands of students and adults about the craft of writing and has been invited as the keynote speaker at youth camps and at several schools throughout the US.
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