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Harley Davidson motorcycle - Work in Progress

Photo of Bridlington Lifeboat that will be used for reference

This is a Harley Davidson Classic motorbike and it appeals to me from a drawing point of view because of all that chrome. As you will see, I'm using a grid. I don't mind admitting that there is no way I could draw this one freehand. There's a lot of intricate detail, especially in the engine and front wheel, and precise placement of the various components is more than my 'eye' can manage.

Image showing first stage of drawing

As usual with a pencil drawing I will be working top-left to bottom-right in order to avoid smudging the graphite, but that isn't really a good thing with this picture as it means I'm starting with all that chrome around the lights and handlebar. At this stage I find it hard to judge if I have the right tones as there is no black in the scene. I think the chrome will look different when I start to add the blacks so I'm concentrating on getting the shapes and form right for now and I'll tweak all the tonal values at the end.

Image showing second stage of drawing

Here I've only added the front suspension fork and part of the mudguard, but I spent quite a while fiddling with the chrome stuff. The whole chrome area may need lightening eventually but introducing some black has certainly made the chrome look more shiny.

Image showing third stage of drawing

Looking from picture to picture I can see that the tones vary slightly from one scan to the next and I think that's a quirk of the scanner trying to do it's best to set the light levels. I only mention it because it looks as if I've darkened the chrome, but I haven't. Adding the blacks is certainly beginning to help the chromes stand out more.

Image showing fourth stage of drawing

As you can see, I've now finished the leather seating and moved on to the engine parts.

Image showing fifth stage of drawing

I've added more to the engine block and rear pannier but since I need to work left to right, the next job is the front wheel and that's going to be quite tricky I think.

Image showing sixth stage of drawing

So the front wheel is done now. It's not a perfect copy of the original and I had to fudge a few things here and there, but I think it looks authentic enough to be believable, and that's what matters.

Image showing seventh stage of drawing

Once upon a time I'd have been content to call this 'finished' but experience has taught me that there is still a lot of drawing to do. So I've actually now finished what I like to call 'the first pass'. All the main components are in place and rough tones have been established but now I need to work my way over the entire drawing again bringing in the sparkle and shine that we have in the original. I'll be lightening highlights, adjusting mid-tones, sharpening edges and bringing in the darkest of the darks. So far I've only used a 2B pencil (well, 2 actually - a 0.5mm and a 0.7mm) but now it's time to sharpen up my 8B and also put a keen edge on my eraser.

Another thing I need to do is 'ground' the bike with a shadow. I'm unsure whether to attempt to draw a bit of gravel, whether to do a sharp shadow as in the reference photo, or whether to just make up a blurry shadow beneath the centre of the bike. To help me decide I'm going to print out the drawing on a sheet of A4 copier paper and try a few ideas.

Image showing eighth stage of drawing

So here is the finished drawing. I had a problem with my soft pencils in so much as I don't have an 8B any more, and the 6B didn't seem to be darkening the tones as much as I wanted. Strangely, I found that I got on much better with my 2B, adding extra layers to build up the darks. It's probably worth mentioning that I use Pentel Ain Stein Leads in my mechanical pencils. They are advertised as being stronger, smoother and darker than other leads, and I can't fault those claims.

Anyway, hopefully you can see the difference that the final work over has made. Those extra darks have allowed me to bring out a bit more detail and have also allowed me to bring out the 'shine' of the paintwork.

The paper I used is A4 size (8.3"x11.7") Daler-Rowney Smooth Cartridge paper and it's the first time I've used it. This is 90lb weight and I normally use the heavier 135lb. For a smooth paper it took many layers of graphite quite well and I can recommend it.

Materials Used