How much work is it to write a book? To get a clue, take a look at the date of my last post!
I've made over 100 illustrations. ended up with 37,500 words which is about half the length of a typical novel. It took 11 editing sessions.
In the book you will find tips and tricks possibly not seen elsewhere. There is a comprehensive index and sprinkles of links throughout to help you jump back to the index. With this, you can treat it like a reference book or read it from start to finish.
Please download a copy while it is free. All I ask in return is for you to spread the word. Use Facebook, Pin it, Tweet it, or email the link to a friend. Please use THIS link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/295756 (Each person must download their own copy.)
This is a close-up of the eyes from a new portrait. This portrait is posthumous and therefore referenced from a photograph that I took.
To date, 32,000 words and 101 illustrations. Still more to do but it's coming together now. I promise, there will be things in this book that you are unlikely to find anywhere else in print. It will be published as an ebook for Kindle and others via smashwords who will send it off to Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store.
This is a link that is worth reading in detail - including the Q&A. It talks about shadows and light and their colours over the human face. http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=265241
... and made a short video about it. Here it is: Manna in the wild.
While it's nice to know that a painting can be valuable, somehow it seems obscene that a piece of work - as good as it is, can command enough money to feed a small third-world village for two generations.
220.127.116.11 Wooden pencils
There is definitely a wide range of quality available for wooden pencils. The main difference is consistency. You need the graphite core to be devoid of hard scratchy bits, and places where it breaks easily. Obviously hard pencils don't break very easily, but they may contain scratchy bits. These scratchy bits can damage the paper. Soft pencils can be easily broken, so as well as careful sharpening, you need good quality construction because if the lead is fragile, then it becomes very difficult to sharpen. The wooden casing also needs to be soft yet consistent. It should be easy to remove with a knife without putting undue strain on the lead. You will need to purchase various brands to find out their characteristics, or get some recommendations from someone who has already gained the experience.
When you sharpen a wooden pencil, it is useful to shave off quite a lot of wood to expose a very long core. Use a knife rather than a pencil sharpener because you have a lot more control, and a sharpener is very wasteful. The point that a sharpener creates wears quickly, and you need to frequently sharpen it.
Here we discuss more paper types:
18.104.22.168 Mat board
Mat board is readily available because it is used for mounts around a picture in a frame. It is acid-free. Mat board usually has significant texture. It's fairly difficult to work on for beginners and it might be a little delecate compared to high quality paper. This means that it will not “take the layers” as well. However, some artists like mat board for graphite. If you use it then be very gentle with the pencils. Use only the weight of the pencil to make a mark, and be patient.
22.214.171.124 Illustration board
Illustration board is finished only on one side. This side is often watermarked in one corner and can serve as an indicator if you are in doubt: The watermark is visible from the good side. If you cut down a full sheet, then place a small identifier on the good side to make it easy to identify.
The surface of an illustration board is very good for scanning and as a master for print making. If you intend to easily reproduce your originals to sell copies, then consider illustration board if it suits your style.
126.96.36.199 Bristol board
Bristol has two working surfaces. It is often lighter than illustration board. It is good for long-term use and preserves well. You can also find archival Bristol board.
Plate Bristol board is somewhat like hot press.
Vellum Bristol board is somewhat like cold press.
188.8.131.52 Drafting paper
Drafting paper is an interesting medium. It is smooth, yet rough which is an odd thing to state, but I mean by this that it seems smooth to touch, but when you draw on it, it grabs the graphite and wears the pencil quickly. It's almost like extremely file sand-paper. Because of this, it produces a very good black. Another interesting property is that it is translucent. For beginners, this is an advantage if you care to copy a picture on a scale of 1:1. Simply overlay the drawing, and trace a contour. Then you can place the drafting paper on a clear white background and progress to rendering. When you use an erase, it will smudge. It will also smudge when touching it, however these smudges will vanish with a clean eraser, and the surface is very tough. It's an unusual but interesting option for graphite artists.
Let's look at some paper types:
184.108.40.206 Hot press
Hot press paper is formed by squeezing the paper through hot rollers. This makes a smooth surface. Since it has little tooth, this means it is less abrasive which often means more difficulty to get very dark non-shiny shadows. Its smooth surface is good for very fine detail. When you need to create a texture-effect, then you need to build the texture with layers using differing techniques and pencil grades. Hot press can often be more expensive than cold press paper for a given weight and size. The smooth surface is good for making copies and preserving fine detail.
Hot press board often comes in bright-white or with a coated surface. The advantage of bright white paper is greater dynamic range. However, a smooth or smooth and coated surface might be difficult to apply heavy dark areas. As usual, once you find a supplier, it is a good idea to test the paper with a quick sketch. If you like the bright white and the coated surface but have difficulty getting a deep dark, then consider using a carbon pencil. See [sub:Carbon-is-a].
A very bright white paper might be difficult to reproduce onto normal paper, so the original is likely to look much better than copies. The bright white paper can also cause significant problems to get even illumination for photographic reproduction and display/viewing.
220.127.116.11 Cold press
Cold press paper may also be called “Not Hot” or simply, “Not”. It has more tooth than hot press paper which makes fine detail more difficult, but is a better surface for deep darks with no shine. When you need to create a texture-effect, then the tooth of the paper can be exploited by choosing various pencil grades and pressure.om the top bar.
Paper comes in a bewildering range. Quality and characteristics vary with price. You must purchase acid-free paper. This is because normal paper as you might use in a printer reacts with light. The manufacturing process is tuned for profit and to produce a product fit for the purpose and copy-paper does not need to have archival properties. Neutralising acid during the manufacturing process is an extra expense. As a result, normal paper has a small amount of acid in it which reacts over time with the environment and turns yellow. Artists' paper is nearly acid-free and this is a big advantage for long term exhibition. Not only must your paper be acid free, but so too the mat board used to frame your work.
Paper comes in different shades. Most white paper is only white to your eye in isolation to a comparison. You will find that there are many shades, some 'whiter' than others. Some are beige, some slightly yellow and so on.
Paper also comes in different smoothness. Very smooth paper is good for high detail, while you may prefer a rougher tooth for a different look. You can burnish parts of the paper to simulate a smooth paper. Sometimes the paper is smooth on one side, and rough on the other. In that case, it's best to mark the paper with a small cross in the top right corner on the side that you choose to use. Especially if you are doing a series, or a triptic, it's important to be consistent. Paper comes in different thicknesses also called weight. See weight [sub:Weight - paper] Obviously, the higher the weight, the thicker, and more robust is the paper. Very thin paper might be smooth, but easily creased.
Another overlooked characteristic of paper is how easily it allows an eraser to work. Different paper reacts differently to moisture. Some will crinckle and stain, while specialist water-colour papers are more stable. Finally, different surfaces take pencil differently so that the blackest black you can get on one paper might be considerably darker than on another.
The diagram below details the microscopically rough surface of paper, the size of graphite deposits, and why the paper still shines through even when covered in a layer of graphite.
For these reasons, there is a need for experimentation. Only your own preference and experience can help you ultimately to choose the right paper for a given style and subject.
If paper was perfectly smooth, you would not be able to make a mark on it with graphite because it would not be abrasive enough to tear away graphite from the pencil. Each paper type has its own roughness. We call this tooth.
Since the size of flakes of graphite varies with different grades of pencil, the combination of pencil-choice and tooth is significant. Soft graphite has quite big flakes, and will therefore sit on top of the paper's tooth, not in the valleys. You can use a harder pencil over the top of a soft layer to try and force the soft graphite into the valleys. A hard pencil will be able to fill the valleys, but will not be particularly dark of course. You can get different effects by choosing the order of layering. Here is the reasoning: Soft big graphite flakes are slippy (and shiny) but soft. So a hard pencil on a soft layer will break up the flakes, force them into the valleys, and the peaks will shave off the harder graphite. Hard over soft works well. In the opposite, if you lay down a hard layer, then because it fills the valleys and covers the peaks, and is still slippy, a soft grade is less likely to go on top. Contrary to some of my readings where it is said that you should only apply hard over soft, I think each is a legitimate technique. If you lay down soft lightly first, then some paper will still show through, leaving a grainy appearance. The harder pencil on top will therefore enhance the grainy appearance because it will adhere less to the flakes of graphite that are already there, and stick well to the exposed parts of the tooth. You should try this and note the result. Compare this with putting down a light but complete layer of hard pencil, and then applying soft over the top. In this case, you don't get the grainy appearance, and instead get a nice smooth result. This technique will not get it as dark. When you make a transition from very dark to light, and would like to do so with a smooth result, the very dark areas need to be done with soft:layer-blend-layer-blend-layer while the lighter areas with hard then soft. Blending is optional depending on the look that you want. In the transition area where it is not the darkest, and not into the 'hard then soft' area, you need to mix the technique.
Any experiment you do using a given set of pencils will have a different effect on different paper. Each paper has a tooth-size, and there will be some grade of pencil which just nicely fills the valleys of the tooth. It's useful for any given type of paper to find out what grade of pencil does this because a flake-size which just fills the tooth is like a benchmark for that paper. It will give you an easy convincing dark without too much shine, and if used lightly, is less likely to give a grainy effect. Use a very soft pencil for a deliberate grainy effect, and a hard one to prepare the paper for a controlled layering of softer pencil on top.
Like many other products, paper is manufactured. It is made from wood pulp, and other additives. The quality of the pulp, and the quality of the tools and processes and cleanliness of the environment is important. Cheap paper will be made in an inferior way, often with hard bits, contaminants, and sometimes holes. These inconsistencies might not show up until you try to put a layer of graphite on it. More expensive paper is worth the price because the chance of getting a poor spot is reduced. It is still possible to get bad paper that is sold as good quality, but the event is rare. I've read anecdotal reports which claim that paper sold in a block-pad is more consistent than loose sheets. Why this should be so is a mystery to me, but worth mentioning as the information has come from several sources.
If you burnish paper, it will take the pencil marks differently to untouched paper. However, you should be in the position to choose when to do this. Don't do it accidentally, and avoid poor quality paper which might have burnished spots. See also [sub:Oils-(In-skin)].
(C) Jeremy Lee 2010, all rights reserved.
Note: I am allowing the blogs in the category 'Book' to be stored for personal use only, but not for distribution or commercial use. Should you wish to reproduce any material, please contact me for negotiations.
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.