Drawing Materials and Methods
How does a light source affect the translucence of an object? Which eraser is right for your drawing? Read on for advice on these and other topics from the artists featured in the winter issue of Drawing magazine, which focuses on drawing materials and printmaking media.
1. Drawing a translucent object? Pay attention to the light.
Translucent objects are tricky to draw, because their appearance changes depending on whether the light is shining on a form from the front or side or shining through it from behind. A translucent object will often appear opaque when lit from the front or side. This is demonstrated in the drawing of grapes seen below. The light falls between the two groups of grapes, so the front cluster is lit from behind, while the back cluster is lit from the front. The back grapes show highlights and shadows in the same intensity and positions as they would if they were opaque. The front cluster, however, shows the translucence of each grape, with the interior seed faintly visible and a small amount of light leaking into the cast shadows.
2. Be mindful with how you employ your erasers.
I find it makes a difference what order you employ various erasers when using more than one type in a single drawing. If I try to erase a deeply inscribed line with a kneaded eraser first, the line becomes even more resistant to subsequent attempts by a plastic eraser. I avoid using the smaller pointed plastic erasers on large areas, since they can embed the pigment into the paper; I’ve found the larger plastic erasers better suited to such tasks.
3. Use frisket to keep your white backgrounds pristine.
In order to keep the background clean while I work, I use Badger Foto/Frisket Film, a low-tack product that airbrush artists use to stencil out spaces. I cover the paper with the frisket and trace the outline of the image on the film with a Stabilo pencil. Using an X-Acto knife I cut out the area where I will draw the image, plus an extra quarter of an inch all around the shape. This keeps the paper in the non-image area protected throughout the drawing process. I can smudge and blend as much as I want and not worry about my hand rubbing on the white background. After the drawing is done, I removed the low-tack frisket and have that pristine background.
4. Interested in printmaking? “Just do it!”
Printmaking is so rewarding. There’s that element of chance you don’t have with pencil on paper. And anyone who loves to draw will especially love drypoint because it’s basically drawing—drawing with chance as your collaborator. [–Ellen Heck, “Printmaking Today”]
5. If you like to stay in control, engraving might be your perfect medium.
Engraving was developed in the Middle Ages, making it one of the oldest printmaking processes. The artist creates lines by cutting into a copper plate using a tool called a burin. It requires patience, strength and practice. Curved lines are created not by pushing the burin in a new direction but by turning the plate while pushing the burin straight ahead. It is a highly linear process, and shading is accomplished largely through hatching and crosshatching.