Sketch a sci-fi submersible craft: tips for beginners
Diving into the ocean’s depths is a daunting endeavor, requiring intensive training, certificates, and licenses. But what if it were as simple as getting in your car to take a sightseeing trip? Using graphite pencils on paper, let’s take a look into how to design and draw an improbable mode of transport: the personal submarine.
- 0.7 mm mechanical HB pencil
- Non-photo blue pencil
- 2H, H 4H, HB, 2B, 4B and 6B Staedtler pencils
- Black Prismacolor pencil
- White Prismacolor pencil (or white pastel or gouache)
- Ellipse guide
Using an HB lead in a 0.7 mm mechanical pencil, I fill a page with rapid sketches, no more than five minutes’ work each. Depending on the project, I may spend a whole day powering out as many ideas as will fit, exploring every shape, form, and function I can imagine.
Blue line sketch
I want a very accurate final drawing, so I take time to do a fairly rigorous layout sketch on 9" × 12" with Mars non-photo blue lead in a Staedtler lead holder. It is very important to scale the submarine in a believable way to the person operating it.
Pencil line art
Switching back to the HB mechanical pencil, I draw over the blue lines, both freehand and with rulers and ellipse templates. The result is still a little rough, so I tape a sheet of vellum over the drawing and retrace it for the cleanest possible look.
Starting at 4H and working mostly with the side of the pencil, I shade from light to dark through 2H, H, HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B Staedtler art pencils. The bottom of the image needs more darkening, which I add with a black Prismacolor pencil. For the final, I overlay white Prismacolor, chalk pastel, and gouache after spraying the drawing with workable fixative.
Final Image: A dark background clearly places the vehicle underwater. It’s a good idea to preserve a version of the original drawing before adding this.