Two More Quick Tips For Making Monochrome Art

Well, although I’ve talked about making monochrome art before , I thought that I’d return to the topic briefly today.

This is mostly because, due to being busy with various things, some of this month’s upcoming daily art posts (and possibly comics) will contain monochrome art for time reasons (due to being somewhat busy at the time of writing). When you’ve had a bit of practice, switching to monochrome is one of the easiest ways to make reasonably good-looking art quickly. Like this:

This is a reduced-size preview. The full-size drawing will be posted here on the 20th August.

So, here are a few more tips for making monochrome art:

1) Detail matters more: Simply put, one of the reasons why monochrome art can look really impressive is because the lack of colours draws the audience’s attention to the details of the underlying drawing.

As such, detail matters a lot more. Of course, if you’ve got limited time, then there are lots of sneaky ways to give the impression that your monochrome art is more detailed than it actually is (eg: shrouding large parts of the picture in darkness, using a variety of different simple shading techniques, impressionistic details etc..).

In addition to this, you can also make the detail in your monochrome art stand out more by ensuring that there is a good mixture between blank, shaded and dark areas in your artwork. In other words, try to ensure that each type of area makes up at least 20% of the total surface area of your picture.

Another good rule (which I didn’t entirely follow in the drawing near the beginning of this article) is to try to ensure that no two blank, shaded or dark areas of the picture are next to each other – so that each part of the picture stands out in contrast to the surrounding area.

Here’s an example of this technique in a monochrome drawing of mine from 2014 (based on a photo I took in 2004). Although there are some shaded areas are close to each other, they either use different types of shading and/or are separated with thick black lines:

“Berlin Noir” By C. A. Brown [2014]

But, even so, detail matters a lot more because the audience are going to notice it more.

2) Digital tools: I’m sure I’ve talked about some elements of this, but one reason why monochrome art is such a cool genre if you need to make good art in a hurry is that it’s a lot easier and quicker to use digital tools (after scanning or photographing your art).

One easy way to make digital copies of your monochrome art look suitably crisp (and to make any digital edits alterations stand out less) is to open the scanned or digitally-photographed copy of your monochrome art in pretty much any image editing program (if you don’t have one, then use this free open-source one) and look for the “brightness/contrast” option.

Once you’ve found it, lower the brightness and increase the contrast significantly (experiment until you get the levels right). This will make the black areas of your picture look suitably dark and the white areas look suitably bright. Whilst doing this with colour artwork will often result in some rather strange-looking results, it is a quick and easy way to make your monochrome art look clean and crisp.

Likewise, if your image editing program has a “hue/saturation/lightness” option, then lower the saturation to zero too. This will get rid of any colour artefacts that can turn up when digitising monochrome art, since lowering the saturation level to zero removes all colours from the picture (eg: if you try to do this with a colour image, then it will turn into a greyscale image).

Likewise, for time and consistency reasons, look for any selection tools and/or fill tools in your image editing program. You can use these to quickly fill large areas with black “ink” much more quickly and consistently than you can if you use physical paints or inks.

Seriously, all of the solid black areas in the preview picture near the beginning of this article were filled in digitally. If you don’t believe me, here’s a cropped (but otherwise unprocessed) scan of the actual physical drawing.

Yes, I could have filled these areas with paint or ink manually, but it was quicker and easier to do it digitally. Plus, notice how faded this picture looks – this is because I haven’t adjusted the brightness/contrast levels. Likewise, I messed up the proportions on the globe slightly in the original drawing, but was able to quickly and easily correct them in the final edited picture.

So, yes, when it comes to monochrome art, digital tools are not only useful, but they can also save you time and make any edits or alterations to your art a lot less noticeable (yes, you can make seamless alterations/edits to colour art, but it’s a little bit more complicated).


Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

So, here are a few more tips for making monochrome art:

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