Sailboats in the distance in graphite

I need your help. I love working with graphite and I keep pushing myself to try to convey different textures and values, pushing myself to create it knowing that I don’t know how and I work and work at it until I figure it out. I saw this reference photo and thought I would try this knowing that it was water with a reflection of the clouds and knowing it wouldn’t be the easiest to do without color because the textures were so similar.

How I differentiate between the water, the reflection and the water creeping up over the pebbles was particularly interesting to me when I saw the photo. And I’ve never drawn clouds before, so this was totally new for me on many levels … But, I feel like I totally failed on this one. And, even though I put a lot of effort into it, to me it looks like I just totally missed it on every level.

Please help me with suggestions or things to try to improve it, tell me what looks off, etc. Thanks everyone.


Wow! You have done a beautiful job and should be very proud of yourself. Great detail too!

Thank you! You made me feel better, because I just felt like I really missed capturing the water, reflection and clouds
on this drawing.

Very well done. Love it!

Hi Wendy!
Aren’t we always our own worst critics? I think you did a great job with a challenging subject. Perhaps you could revisit some of the darker areas in the water. For example, bottom right before the beach you could push that area to a darker shade. I am no expert, but maybe you could have used more horizontal strokes in the water to represent the rippling effect. I see that you have your darker shades in the clouds near the top, but if you take the photo and turn it into a black and white, you will see that it isn’t that dark. That might be why you are not as pleased with it. I do think you did an amazing job (especially with the pebbles on the beach as it isn’t easy to keep them looking natural). Thanks so much for sharing.


Thank you for pointing out areas of improvement, and I totally agree with your assessment. I did go back and address those areas and I like it much better. Thanks for your help.

1 Like

I love your drawing. The reflection in the water in particular. I love the way the sailboat reflects and the cloud too :slight_smile:

Beth (OriNebula or OrionNebula)

Very well done. I might have put a darker shade at the top of the lake to separate the reflection, put a stronger white where you have light and between the rays from the sun. That is my suggestion. Maybe put a darker area to the right of the sailboat, I think you could see this in the reference picture. I would also suggest taking this reference picture and copy it in gray tones. I think that you would see the different lights and darks. I try to do that whenever I am working with any type of medium and it helps a lot. You just need to work on the different shadows.

Lenora (lilnora or ArtistLittleNora)

I am a master of destaster regarding clouds! Since cloulds are so fluffy, to me it is a challenge drawing them instead of painting (f.e. water color flowing …). Sometimes, it helps me to turn my picuture upside down and focus on the values rather than on the subject itself. Also, I would use a blending stump and/or use a variety of different graphite pencils (such as 2-4B for the clouds and even softer for the first laywer of sky and water).

I think, you did great! Just take your time and keep on going,

I agree that you did a great job. You have to go through what you are going through to improve. Patricia mentioned darkening the dark places. I agree with that, also. You almost cannot get the darks too dark, because most of us are afraid of pushing the values and end up with too light. So, push. Also, let us see the improvements as you go. :slightly_smiling_face:

What a magical scene! I’d love to be there!