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Pencil Drawing – Learn 5 Tips and Techniques of Theodore Kautzky

by Zamali
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On this day I will share with you a few tips and some advanced techniques from the master of Pencil Mr Theodore Kautzky. Author of two of the greatest art book on the art of Pencil drawings: The Ted Kautzky Pencil Book and Pencil Broadsides. This is a follow-up to this post on Drawing Life ART Page.

Theodore "Ted" Kautzky (1896–1953) was a Budapest-born architect, painter, teacher, and author of books on painting techniques. He emigrated to New York, United States in 1923.... Kautzky began drawing with a pencil and then advanced to black-and-white tones. He then learnt the use of brushes and watercolors to create realistic pictorial effects. Early on, he made use of the many tints and hues readily available in the stores at the time, but over the years began to simplify his color palette by being selective of the color pigments he would use to match his style and temperament. He espoused the same idea of being restrictive in color mixing to his students during his career as a teacher later in his life. 
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Kautzky

Pencil Drawing Tips from Pencil Broadsides book by Ted Kautzky

From the fundamentals of pencil strokes to composition, texture and architecture, to learn more about any of those techniques I recommend you get a copy of or both of his books The Ted Kautzky Pencil Book and Pencil Broadsides

1 – Get your Strokes right – Fundamental Strokes

Keep it simple and use 2B and 4B only, using a knife to expose the lead then rub it against the sandpaper to create a wedge, like in the image (below). Drawing with the flat side of the wedge is what created the broad strokes, the signature style of Ted Kautzky.
Here are some more Drawing Tips and Techniques to Improve your Skills

pencil drawing technique of broadside

2 – Architectural Bricks and Stones – Diagonal strokes give the impression of falling light

Do a fast and light sketch of the stone pattern, keep variety in lines, shapes and values in drawing stones and bricks and use diagonal broadside strokes to simulate the direction of light. Here are some more tips on how to draw buildings and urban scenes

drawing bricks in pencil

3 – Pencil Drawing of Trees Tips

Study the tree structure, and make a light sketch of the shape. Realise that trees are three-dimensional objects. When some foliage is behind the trunk, that part of the trunk will appear lighter.

In rendering the foliage of these trees, I have used short broad strokes for the most part, with narrower radiating strokes, made with the narrower side of the broad-pointed pencil, around the edges of each mass. This treatment makes a clean, sharp silhouette against the sky, which is
left white, and suggests, without being too literal, the needles which make up the foliage.

– Theodore Kautzky

4 – Drawing Garden Scenes, flowers and greens

Go outdoor and observe subjects in nature, pay special attention to silhouettes of shrubs and flowers. To sketch these well, use multiple types of strokes. Long and curvy strokes are best for interpreting the general form, while shorter multi-directional ones are better for the textures and contrast. Keep your rendering varied in tone to show the play of direct light, reflected light and shadow. Leave the highlights of foliage on the white paper for contrast.

5 – Composition tips in Pencil Drawing of outdoor scenes

According to Kautzky, Composition is “the most difficult thing for the new artist”. To create a striking composition, sometimes you have to forget what you see. Remember, it’s the artist who creates the composition. Altering the scene and shifting a few elements around to achieve a better balance in your interpretation is what makes an interesting composition.

Here are a few tips on how to achieve that;

  • Avoid strong horizontal (or vertical) scenes – in those cases, try to add accented vertical item in your frame
  • A strong contrast to one side of the artwork creates an imbalance, shifting some values around the secondary objects to create balance in the composition.
  • You can change the direction of the light to bring attention to the right subject in your composition.
  • Adding a mid-tone can improve a composition


Theodore “Ted” Kautzky was, without a doubt, a master and one of the best artists in the work of pencil drawing. His books are an excellent source of knowledge, not only in the art of drawing but also in art generally, values, light, compositions and much more.

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