Learning how to lead eye focus, also trying to expand to sketching environments with pencils

Well the finish feels muddy for me. I’m not sure how to sketch environments with just pencils so far I’ve been working on figures mostly and in general I’m used to broader brushes than pencils.

My focus here was to get three levels of separation for foreground midground (as focus) and background.

I like the cat, not so sure about the rest xD.


To my eyes it looks like the planks are part of the foreground and the cat isn’t really sitting on it. It’s probably because of the level of detail. The planks look closer because they have more visible details on them. Usually less is visible when things are farther away. And then they stand out more because they are so dark compared to the cat and the background.
I like the blurry vegetation in the foreground, I would have put some of it over the planks to give better indication that they are not part of the foreground.


So I’d say the main problem here are the values. I’m guessing that’s the sky, in that case, it should be much brighter in value.
Then there’s the tree which is not the main subject matter. It’s really cool, but there’s too much detail in it, more than in the cat. My eye goes straight to the top part of the tree and then to the cat.
A good rule of thumb is to give your focal point the most amount of contrast. Not just brightness, but shapes and texture contrast.


I agree with what’s already been said. The cat’s face is of a mid-grey that’s almost exactly the same value as the sky behind it. That’s the opposite of contrast. Your main focal point should have your brightest brights next to your darkest darks—that’s where our eyes will be drawn to.

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A huge tip to separate foreground, midground, and background is to take into consideration the atmospheric perspective. As objects become more distant, they become lighter and less saturated.

This example above clearly highlights what I’m saying. The elements are clearly distinct, and there is a nice separation of values.

It is also a nice example on leading the eye. The structure in the middle is the focal point because of contrast. Our eyes are drawn to contrast naturally, so make sure that the highest contrast is where you want it to be :slight_smile:


Yeah, I was having troubles with that, it’s actually stone but I have no idea how to make a smooth stones like that with just pencil so I made it more like wood heh :0. But yeah that’s definitely part I had troubles with especially because of the perspective of the whole thing.

I didn’t want to put anything over them too much as they are already pretty dark, maybe I should have given them a bit lighter value and then it would work better but I wasn’t sure about putting that much more interest from the left as it felt like making the whole picture overcrowded.

Thanks a lot :wink:

It’s actually other trees, there is barely any sky visible through the leaves, the parts where is a little bit visible is behind the cat and at the top left part. But I should have definitely separated it better. The overall values turned out bleh. The pencil is not my kind of medium for rendering so I’m trying to put in more effort now ;0.

With the tree and cat I’ll be honest I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to be the main subject. The idea is from left to right you go with darker wood to the cat which has natural lighter background surrounding her towards behind her head and the head itself is staring to the right which i was hoping would shift the focus towards the tree and that’s why I gave it much more rendering. Bu I think when I put the dark foreground branches over it that it killed the focus there and made the whole right side too dark.

I’m pretty new to making environments especially with pencil unless it’s city scenes so I was literally learning on the go.

Out of everything the background was the strangest for me as I’m not really sure how to make the picture rich on leafs without overcrowding it, I tried to go one by one but that quickly turned into a big mess so I tried to just suggest them with lighter dips here and there and grouping them and the just some shade behind it but yeah that’s definitely very weak part right now.

Thanks a lot to you too! :wink:

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Yes, separating foreground, middle ground and background into different values (light, mid values, dark) is a great approach. It doesn’t have to be foreground = dark and background = light however: Here are some examples that switch things up.


Thanks there are some cool things there :-). Glad I could take a look.