Charles G. (Charles George) Harper.

A practical hand-book of drawing for modern methods of reproduction online

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the printing-ink to remain on them, or if you have none,
rub them over with tallow.

Examples will now be shown of the varying results
obtainable from the same drawings by different pro-

The drawing representing a Misty Day at Bolt Head
was made upon common rough paper, such as is usually
found in sailors' log-books ; in fact, it was a log-book


the present writer used during- the greater part of a tour
in Devon, nothing else being obtainable in those parts
save the cloth-bound, gold-lettered sketch-books whose
porterage convicts one at once of amateurishness. And
here let me say that a sailor's log-book, though decidedly
an unconventional medium for sketching in, seems to be
entirely admirable. The paper takes pencil excellently
well, and the faint blue parallel lines with which the
pages are ruled need bother no one ; they will not (being
blue) reproduce. To save the freshness of the impres-
sion, the sketch was lightly finished in ink, and sent for
reproduction uncleaned. The illustration shows the
result. It is an example of the bitumen process, whose
original sin of exaggerating all the pencil marks which
it has been good enough to reproduce at all is partly
cloaked by the intervention of hand-work all over the
block. You can see how continually the graver has
been put through the lines to produce a greyness, yet
how unsatisfactory the result !

The drawing was now sent for reproduction by the
swelled gelatine process. The result is a much more
satisfactory block. I everything that the original con-
tained has been reproduced. The sullen l)lacknesses of
the pinnacled rocks are nothing extenuated, as liiey were

Pen and pencil draiving, reproduced by bitumen process.


Pen and pencil dra-Ming, reproduced by sivclled gelaiine process.


in the first example, where they seem comparatively
insJL^nificant, and the technical qualities of pen and pencil
are retained throuijhout, and can readil)- be identified.
The same remarks apply even more strongly to the
small blocks from the Note at Gorran.

But such a pure pen-drawing as that of Charlzvood,
shown here in blocks by (i) Messrs. Dawson's swelled
gelatine process, and (2) by Mr. Chefdeville's sym-
pathetic handling of the albumen process, would have
come almost equally well by bitumen, or by an ordinar\-
practitioner's treatment of albumen. It offered no
technical difficulties, and there is exceedingly little to
choose between these two blocks. Careful examination
would show that a very slight thickening of line had
taken place throughout the block by the gelatine method,
and this must ever be the distinguishing difterencc
between that process and those in which acids are used
to eat away the metal of the block — that the gelatine
renders at its best every jot and tittle of a drawing, and
would by the naturt- of the process rather exaggerate
than diminish ; and that in those [)rocesses in which
acids play a pari, the process-man nuisi bt- ever watchful
lest his zinc plate be "over-etched" — lest the upstanding

Pen-dra%i>ing reproduced by s-a'cllcd gelatine process.

'-' "'^(bar]^^'^oi.


Si X 6}.

Pen-dra-Ming reproduced by Clie/deville.


metal lines be eaten away to a scratchy travesty of tlic
original drawing. But you will see that although the
lines in the swelled gelatine Charlwood are appreciably
thicker than in its albumen fellow, yet the latter prints
darker. The explanation is in the metals of which the
two blocks are composed. Zinc prints more heavily
than copper.

It should not be forgotten that, to- da)-, hand- work
upon process-blocks is become very usual. To para-
phrase a well-worn political catch-phrase, the old methods
have been called in to redress the vagaries of the new :
the graver has been retained to correct the crudities of
the rocking-bath. To be less cryptic, the graver is used
nowadays to tone down the harsh and ragged edges of
the etched zinc. Here is an illustration that will convey
the idea to perfection. Here is, in this Viciu froui tJic
Tower Bridge Works, a zincographic block, grounded
with bitumen and etched by the aid of acids. The
original drawing was made upon Bristol-board, with
Stephens' ebony stain, and an V nib of Mitchell's make.
The size of that drawing was twelve and a half inches
across ; the sky drawn in with nuu :h elaboration. A
first proof showed a sky harsh and wanting in aiirial


perspective. A graver was put through it, cutting up
the Hnes into dots, and thus putting the sky into proper
relation with the rest of the picture.

Another interesting and suggestive comparison is
between photogravure, or hehogravure, as it is some-
times called, and type-printing processes for the repro-
duction of line. The frontispiece to this volume is a
heliogravure plate by Dujardin, of Paris, from a pen-
drawing that offered no obstacles to adequate repro
duction by the bitumen process. In fact, you see it
here, reproduced in that way, and of the same size.
The copper intaglio plate is in every way superior to the
relief block, as might have been expected. The hardness
of the latter method gives way, in the heliogravure plate,
to a delightful softness, even when the plate is clean-
wiped and printed in as bald and artless a fashion as a
tradesman's business card ; but now it is printed with
care and with the reh^oussage that is generally the meed
of the etching, you could not have distinguished it from
an etching had you not been told its history.

The procedure in making a heliogravure is in this
wise : — A copper plate, similar to the kind used by
etchers, receives a ground of bichromatized bitumen. A


>'^ «l]]


photograph is taken of the drawing to be reproduced,
and from the negative thus obtained a positive is made.
The positive, in reverse, is placed upon the grounded
plate and printed upon it. The bitumen which has been
printed upon by the action of light is thus rendered
wholly insoluble, and the image of the drawing remains
the only soluble portion of the ground. The plate is
then treated with turpentine, and the soluble lines thus
dissolved. Follows then the ordinary etching pro-
cedure. This is a more simple and ready process than
the making of a relief block. It is, however, more
expensive to commission, but then expense never is
any criterion of original cost. The printing, though,
is a heavy item, because, equally with etchings or
mezzotints, it must be printed upon a copper-plate
press, and this involves the cleaning and the rc-inking
of the plate with every impression.

The subject which the present plate bears does not
show the utmost capabilities of the heliogravure. It
was chosen as a fair example to show the difference
between two methods without straining the limitations
of the relief block. lUit if 'the drawing had been most
carefully graduated in intensity from tlie deepest black

4M^ ^

§ I




to the palest brown, the copper plate would have shown
everythhig with perfect ease. Large editions of these
plates are not to be printed without injury, because the
constant wiping of the soft copper wears down the
surface. But to obviate this defect a process of acicrage
has been invented, by which a coating of iron is elec-
trically deposited upon the surface of the plate, rendering
it, practically, as durable as a steel engraving.

It is by experiments we learn to achieve distinction ;
by immediate failure that we rise to ultimate success ;
and ofttimes by pure chance that we discover in these
days some new trick of method by which process shall
do for the illustrator something it has not done before.
There is still, no doubt, in the memory of many, that
musty anecdote of the painter who, fumbling over the
proper rendering of foam, applied by some accident a
sponge to the wet paint, and lo ! there, by happy chance,
was the foam which had before been like nothing so
much as wool.

In the same way, I suppose, some draughtsman
discovered splatter- work. I It: may readily be imagined,
prior to this lucky chance, painfully stippling little dots
with his pen ; pin points of ink stilted and formal in


effect when compared w ith the pecuharly informal con-
course of spots produced by taking a small, stiff-bristled
brush (say a toothbrush), inking it, and then, holding- the
bristles downwards and inclining toward the drawing,
more or less vigorously stroking the inky bristles
toiuards one with a match-stick. Holding the brush
thus, and stroking it in this way, the bristles send a
shower of ink spots upon the drawing. Of course this
trick requires an extended practice before it can be
performed in workmanlike fashion, and even then the
parts not required to be splattered have to be carefully
covered with cut-paper masks. []\Ieni. — To use a fixed
ink for drawings on which ) ou intend to splatter, because
it is extremely probable that you will require to paint
some portions out with Chinese white, and Chinese
white upon any inks that are not fixed is the despair of
the draughtsman.] Here is an excellent example of
splatter. It is by that resourceful American draughts-
man, Harry Fenn. Indeed, the greatest exponents of
this method are Americans : few men in this country
have rendered it with iuiy freciuenc)-, or witli much
advantage. I have essayed its use to aitl this sunset
view of JUack Rock, and to me it seems to come well.



But the finer spots are very difficult of reproduction ;
some are lost here. There is a most ingenious con-



trivance, an American notion, I believe, for the better
application of splatter. It is called the air-brush, and it
consists of a tube filled with ink, and fitted with a


description of nozzle through which the ink is projected
on to paper by a pneumatic arrangement worked by the
artist by means of a treadle. You aim the affair at your
drawing, work your treadle, and the trick is done. The
splatter is remarkably fine and equable, and its intensity
can be regulated by the distance at which the nozzle is
held. from the drawing. The greater advantage, how-
ever, in the use of the air-brush would seem to lie
with the lithographic draughtsmen, who have to cover
immense areas of work.

Here follows an experiment with diluted inks : the
drawing made upon HP Whatman with all manner of
nibs. It is all pen-work, worked with black stain, and
with writing ink watered down to different values. This
is an attempt to render as truthfully as possible (and as
unconventionally) the sunset shine and shadow of a
lonely shore, blown upon with the wild winds of the
Channel. A little stream, overgrown with bents and
waving rushes, flows between a break in the low cliffs
and loses itself in the sands. The sun sets behind the
ruined house, and between it and the foreground is a
clump of storm-bent trees, constrained to their uneasy
inward pose not by present breezes, but to this shrink-

? ^


ing habit of growth by long-continued stress of weather.
The block is by Gillot, of Paris, who was asked to get
the appearance of the original drawing in a line-block.
This he has not altogether succeeded in doing : perhaps
it was impossible ; but \h& feeling is here. It is a line-
block, rouletted all over in the attempt to get the effect
produced by watered inks. The roulettes, by which
these greynesses are produced, are peculiar instruments,
consisting of infinitesimal wheels of hard steel whose
edges are fashioned into microscopically small points or
facets. Mounted at the end of a stick more nearly
resembling a penholder than anything else, the wheel is
driven along (and into) the surface of the metal by
pressure, making small indentations in it. There are
varieties of roulettes, the differences between them lying
in the patterns of the projections from the wheel. The
varieties in the texture of rouletting seen in this print
are thus explained.

Now come some experiments in mixtures. The
mixed drawing has many possibilities of artistic expres-
sion, and here are some essays in mixtures, harnessed to
tentative employments of process.

First is this experiment in pen and pencil reproduced


in half-tone. It is a view of Chepstow Castle — that
really picturesque old border fortress — from across the
river Wye, a river that comes rushing down from the
uplands with an impetuous current full of swirls and
eddies. The town of Chepstow lies at the back, repre-
sented in this drawing only by its lights. The huts and
sheds that straggle down to the waterside, and the
rotting pier, where small vessels load and unload insigni-
ficant cargoes, are commonplace enough, but they go to
make a fine composition ; and the last sunburst in the
evening sky, the stars already brilliant, and the wliite
gleams from the hurrying river, are immensely valuable,
and things of joy to the practitioner in black and white.
Rain had fallen during the day, and, when the; present
writer sat down to sketch, still lent a fine impending
juicy air to the scene that seemed incapable of adequate
translation into pure line ; therefore, upon the pencil
sketch was added pen-work, and to that more pencil,
and, when finish('d, the drawing was sent to be pro-
cessed, with special instructions that the white spaces in
the sky should be preserved, together with those on the
buildings, but that all else might acquire the light grey
tint which the half-tone alua)-s gives, as of a drawing




made upon paper of a silvery grey. In the result you
can see this purely arbitrary, but delightful, ground tint
everywhere ; it gives absolutely the appearance of a
drawing made upon tinted cardboard, but, truly, the
only paper employed was a common, rough make, that
would be despised of the lordly amateur. Here you see
the half-tone process on its best behaviour, and I think
it has secured a very notable result.

Here is another experiment, Clifford's Inn : a Foggy
Night — a mixture of pen and ink and crayon worked
upon with a stump, and then lightly brushed over with
a damp, not a full, brush ; the lights in the windows and
the reflections taken out with the point of an eraser.

It should be said that in drawing thus for half-
tone reproduction the drawing should be made much
more emphatic than the print is intended to appear ;
that is to say, the deepest shadows should be given an
additional depth, and the fainter shading should be a
shade lighter than you would give to a drawing not
made with a view to publication. If these points are
not borne in mind, the result is apt to be flat and

If a half-tone block exhibits these disagreeable


peculiarities, high h'ghts can always be created by the
aid of a chisel used upon the metal surface of the
block. The more important process firms generally
employ a staff of competent engravers, who, now that
wood engraving is less widely used, have turned their
attention to just this kind of work — the correcting of
process-blocks. The artist has but to mark his proof
with the corrections and alterations he requires. The
two illustrations shown on page 68, from different
states of the same block, crive a notion of correcting
the flatness of half-tone. The second block shows
a good deal of retouching in the lights taken out
upon the paper and the jug, and in the hatching upon
the drinking-horn.

Half-tone processes are practised in much the same
way as the albumen and bitumen line methods already
described, in so far as that they are worked with acids
and upon zinc or copper. At first these half-tone
blocks were made in zinc, but recentl)- some repro-
ductive firms have preferred to use copper. Messrs.
Waterlow and Sons, in this country, generally employ
copper for half-tone blocks from drawings or photo-
graphs. Copper prints a softer and more sympathetic

9h X 62.


Drawn in pen and ink ani crayon, and brushed over. Reproduced by half-tone process,
ineditiiH grain.


line, and does not accumulate dirt so readily as zinc.
All the half-tone blocks in this volume are in copper.
By these processes the photographs that one sees re-
produced direct from nature appear in print without
the aid of the artist. They are often referred to as the
Meisenbach process, because the Meisenbach Company
was amongst the first to use these methods in this
country. The essential difference in their workino- is
that there is a ruled screen of glass interposed between
the drawing or object to be photographed and the
negative. Generally a screen of glass is closely ruled
with lines crossing at right angles, and etched with
hydrofluoric acid. Into the grooves thus produced, print-
ing-ink is rubbed. The result is a close network of
black lines upon glass. This screen, interposed between
the sensitized plate in the camera and the object to be
photographed, produces upon the negative the criss-
cross appearance we see in the ultimate picture. In the
half-tone reproductions by Angerer and Goschl, of
Vienna, this appearance is singularly varied. The
screen used by them is said to be made from white silk
of the gauziest description, hung before a wall covered
with black velvet in such a manner that the blackness

6 J X 61.

IIAI 1-IONl l'Kli(.liSS.


of the velvet can be seen and photographed through the
silken film. A negative is made, and from it a positive
is produced, which exhibits a curiously varied arrange-
ment of dots and meshes. The positive is used in the
same way as the ruled-glass screens.

The network characteristic of half-tone relief blocks
can be made fine, or medium, or coarse, as required.
The fine-grained blocks are used for careful book and
magazine printing, and the medium-grained for printing
in the better Illustrated weeklies ; the coarse-grained are
used for rougher printing, but still are nearly always too
fine for newspaper work. The Daily Graphic, however,
has solved the problem of printing them sufficiently well
for the picture to be discerned. Beyond this the rotary
steam-printing press has not yet advanced.

In appearance somewhat similar to a half-tone block,
but with the tint differently applied, is the illustration of
The Village Street, Tint em : Night. Here is a pure
pen-drawing, scratched and scribbled to blackness with-
out much care for finesse, the orreat reduction and the
tint being reckoned upon to assuage all angularities.
The original drawing was then lightly scribbled over
with blue pencil to Indicate to the process -man that a


mechanical tint was required to be applied upon the
block, and word was specially sent that the tint was
to be squarely cut, not vignetted. The result seems
happy. This is a line block, not tone.

In such a case the procedure is normal until the
image is printed upon the sensitized ground of the zinc

Hi X 9.

Application o/sliadin^ iiitiiium.

plate. Then the prescribed tint is transferred by pres-
sure of thumb and fingers, or by means of a burnisher,
from an engraved sheet of gelatine previously inked
with a printing roller. The zinc plate is then etched in
the familiar wa)-.

These tints are produced by Day's shatling mediums ;

-1 S


' OFTHE . ■^


thin sheets of gelatine engraved upon one side with
Hnes or with a pattern of stipple. There are very many
of these patterns. They can readily be applied, and
with the greatest accuracy, because the gelatine is semi-
transparent, and admits of the operator seeing what he
is about. These mechanical tints are capable of ex-
quisite application, but they have been more frequently
regarded as labour-saving appliances, and have rarely
been used with skill, and so have come to bear an
altogether unmerited stigma. They can be used by a
clever process-man, under the directions of the draughts-
man, with great effect, and in remarkably diverse ways.
For it is not at all necessary that the tint should come
all over the block. It can be w^orked in most intricately.
The illustration, Leebotivood, shows an application of
shading medium to the sky. The proprietors (for it is a
patent) of these devices have endeavoured to introduce
their use amongst artists, with a view to their working
the mediums upon the drawings themselves. It has
been shown that the varieties of shading to be obtained
by shifting and transposing the gelatine plates is illimit-
able, but as their use involves establishing a printing
roller and printer's ink in one's studio, and as all artists


are not printers born, it does not seem at all likely that
Day's shading mediums \vill be used outside litho-
graphic offices or the offices of reproductive firms.

Here are appended some examples of the shading
mediums commonly used.

The cost of reproduction by process varies very
greatly. It is always calculated at so much the square
inch, with a minimum charge ranging, for line ^vork,
from two-and-sixpence to five shillings. For half-
tone the minimum may be put at from ten shillings
to sixteen shillings. Plain line blocks, by the bitumen
or albumen processes, cost from twopence-halfpenny to
sixpence per square inch, and handwork upon the block
is charc^ed extra. Some firms make a char^re of one
penny per square inch for the application of Day's
shading mediums. Line blocks by the swelled gelatine
process are charged at one shilling per square inch,
and reproductions of pencil or crayon work at one-
and-threepence. Half-tone blocks from objects, photo-
graphs, or drawings range from eightpence to one-
and-sixpence per s(juare inch, and the cost of a
photogravure plate ma)' be put at two-and-sixpence
for the same unit. The best work in any photo-




graphic process is infinitely less costly than wood en-
graving, which, although its cost is not generally calcu-



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Online LibraryCharles G. (Charles George) HarperA practical hand-book of drawing for modern methods of reproduction → online text (page 3 of 7)