Making Waves in Water Soluble Graphite

Updated: Apr 7



Doesn’t water-soluble graphite sound interesting? Yes, it’s magical how water-soluble graphite turns into paint just by adding water. Now how do you make waves in water-soluble graphite? You might have come across portrait drawings without knowing that they’re made by water-soluble graphite.


Nowadays, the market is flooded with new art materials. Water-soluble graphite is a new material that’s gaining interest among artists. The invention of graphite pencils might have been amazing, but it's more magical how pencils can be turned into paint.

Ranging from HB to 8B, water-soluble graphite is available in varying degrees, from pencils and sticks to the pan and liquid forms. With or without water, the pencils work beautifully. As they glide over the paper, they feel velvety smooth when dry.


They are erasable and can create rich darks. You can manipulate the graphite and apply it with a brush by adding a drop of water to the graphite to turn it inky black.


Process of Making Waves in Water Soluble Graphite

So how do you make waves in water-soluble graphite? There are 3 simple steps.


Step 1

On a medium textured illustration board, begin your drawing with a dry 4B water-soluble pencil from Faber-Castell. In the upper right corner of your composition, draw a large cresting wave and emphasize it in the dark so it stands out as the most important compositional element.


Press hard enough on the dry pencil so it's dark enough and clearly shows the contours and lines. Optionally, you can draw a small buoy to act as a counterbalance to the diagonal movement of water.


Step 2

Now add more dark layers and details by using a brush that is slightly damp to soften the dry pencil lines.


Step 3

To convey the sunlight bouncing off the surface, add crispier lines and dot-like dews when the surface is completely dry. By dipping the tip of the pencil point into the water you can achieve darker dots as it will make graphite softer and stickier. Add some lights by using a water-soluble white pencil.

Step 4

To make different mixtures of liquid graphite, you can draw with the 4B pencil then smear it with the watercolor brushes. Over the wet washes, add dark accents with an 8B pencil. You can build rich blacks through this method of layering. Add small dabs of thick white gouache as finishing touches. You can also make interesting patterns of dark and light graphite strokes.


Essential Tips for Using Water Soluble Graphite

Once the graphite is wet, the values are harder to control. By making your own solutions of the graphite you can regain some of that control. First, shape your various pencils with a sandpaper block. Then in little containers, collect the resulting graphite granules and then mix them with different amounts of water. You now have different graphite mixtures formed with consistent and distinct values.


Final Words


Making waves in water-soluble graphite can be a cool artistic effect to add to your arsenal. With a little water, you can use the graphite in different contrast and make your sketch look like a watercolor painting with a watercolor brush.


Consider buying affordable original art online if you want to get a water-soluble graphite portrait for your home. You can also go to Ino Chang’s art shop o buy digital art prints of some of the best hand-drawn animal drawing and portrait drawing

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