Here are a few things I’ve learned as a stipple artist:
1. Before you even begin get into a Zen state of mind. This is not a craft for the speedy and the quick. You really do have to prepare your mind to slow down and be in it for the long haul. Think of it as meditation. If you have to start off with doing it for only 10-20 minutes at at time, that’s fine. Take breaks and then come back to it. Whatever you do don’t force it otherwise you’ll end up hating the drawing and spend the rest of your time just wishing you could hurry up and finish.
2. When you do your underlying linework don’t make the lines too dark. You want your lines to be light but visible otherwise they’ll be a pain to erase after you lay down your ink and you may inadvertently erase some of your ink, dulling your drawing.
3. Don’t tense up. Holding your pen tighter won’t help you get done any faster. You want a slightly loose grip with a moderate stippling pace so that your hand won’t tire quickly.
4. Whenever you’re not stippling put your cap back on your pen or put it away, even if you’re just reaching for a drink. I’ve had one too many mishaps from simply reaching for my phone or moving to pet my cat only to look back at my drawing and find unintended pen marks on it.
5. Work in small sections at a time. I’ve found that covering the portion of the drawing that I’m not working on with a piece of paper keeps me from feeling overwhelmed at how much I have to stipple and focused on the portion that I’m working on. Plus the paper keeps the oils from your hand from getting on the drawing.
6. If you get sleepy go to bed or take a nap. Don’t try to push through it. Trust me, stippling while sleepy is a sure way to end up with mistakes.
7. Most importantly….BREATHE…and always keep a charged up mp3 player or iPod loaded with some good music handy.
Here’s a simple visual how-to on color stippling. This works great when your drawing calls for mostly primary colors but when you get into skin tones and the such you need to be a bit more creative when it comes to choosing the colors to create your shadows. When you need for your colors to be deeper, place your dots closer together. When you need for them to be lighter, place them further apart. A rule of thumb is don’t use black otherwise your shadows will look too harsh. Then again, once you get the hang of this, rules can be broken. Other than that have fun and play around with the colors to see what works for you but if you’re looking for a starting point work with primary colors until you get comfortable and then explore from there.
There are no magical formulas or secret plans to Life. So please, save yourself the frustration if you’re looking for one. There’s simply no guaranteed way of ever knowing beforehand the end results of anything we set out to do. All that we can do is try our best in achieving our aspirations and learn to be flexible along the way because Life is mysterious and ever changing. If you don’t like the results, you’re always free to do something different. Your individual life isn’t chiseled in stone, it’s molded by your own choosing.