We continue with the word-definitions for graphite drawing. There are a lot of terms. Once this is complete, we will see some techniques and examples.
First, let's look at graphite shine a little more...
Since the graphite flakes are flat and shiny, if you rub a pencil hard on the paper, it will flatten the tooth and lay all the flakes flat on top of each other. Light will reflect off this smooth surface and cause shine. This is undesirable because a shiny surface will not properly represent a shadow. It is wise to lay down the graphite and preserve the tooth so that each individual flake of graphite reflects light in a different direction. Carbon and charcoal pencils are made of rough bits of black carbon grains, and do not reflect light so easily. For this reason, carbon and charcoal are very useful for deep dark areas. Some types of paper cause shine more than others. You will need to experiment to find out what suits your style.
The effects of shine are reduced a little when the work is mounted under glass, and if you use a spray fixative it tends to remove some shine.
Pencils are marked with a grading system. There are two measures: B and H. Each letter could be preceded by a number which indicates a weighting for the letter. B represents the amount of graphite and H represents the amount of clay. Graphite is soft and shiny, while the clay is hard an matte. On a scale from soft to hard, we get:
On any given paper, each of these will give a very dark (8B) to very light (6H) value. For any given pencil grade, it will give a different value depending on the paper used. Some papers takes darks better then others. HB is sort of the middle and is a general purpose pencil that we use in schools. Softer pencil marks, when used lightly are easy to erase while harder pencil marks can damage the tooth of the paper and leave an impression. Therefore, very light pressure in many layers will often produce superior results when compared to heavy-handed marks.
Really! It's all because of the lens. When an image is focused onto the sensor or film, it has to pass through a curved surface, and basic trigonometry demands that the XY coordinates of the flattened image are not in proportion. You would have to project onto a curved sensor to fix that. But a digital camera could automatically do lens distortion corrections. I am not aware of any in-camera lens distortion software. Hopefully you can tell me and other readers if you know of any cameras that offer it.
But there is some software which will automatically correct lens distortion in the digital darkroom. PTLens is software that corrects lens pincushion/barrel distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, and perspective. It recognises many commercially available lenses and exists as a stand alone application or a plugin for photoshop.
Paper is not perfectly smooth. If it was very smooth, then you would not be able to draw on it. The roughness of the paper is called tooth. Very rough paper resists fine detail. The grade of pencil that you choose will make a different mark on smooth paper compared to rough paper. This is because the pencil is made of graphite, and the graphite flakes are bound together to form the lead core, where the tooth of the paper is abrasive enough to grab the graphite flakes. Pencil lead is not really lead. It is actually made from a composition of graphite and clay. The tooth on some paper allows deep dark values with little shine, but on some others the graphite shines because the tooth is delicate and when the tooth is flattened, the graphite flakes lie flat and shine. In that case, be very gentle when applying the graphite. It's best to use several layers, possibly with a light blend in between.
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
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spOOk's art is owned by Jeremy. He has practiced drawing and painting for about 40 years, and might get good at it one day. spOOk's art is focused on graphite portraits.