Charles G. (Charles George) Harper.

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

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and working upon that straight away.

But. after all, it would, for the sake of retaining
something of the freshness of first impressions, be


best to sacrifice your pencil study and work away
on that.

Now the pen-drawing is begun, care should be
taken to draw only clear and perfectly black lines, and
not to run these together, but to keep the drawing what
the process men call " open."

If details are put in without regard for the fining
down which reduction gives, it is only too likely that
the result will show only dirty, meaningless patches
where was a great deal of delicate pen-work. Of
course, the exact knowledge of how to draw with the
pen to get the best results by process cannot properly
be taught, but must be learned by experience, after
many miscalculations.

It will be found, too, that many things which it
would be inadvisable for the beginner to do (especially
if he cannot command his own choice of process-
engraver) are perfectly legitimate to the practised
artist who has studied process work. The student
should not be at first encouraged to make experiments
in diluted inks or retained pencil - marks, or any
of those delightful practices by which one who is
thoroughly conversant with photographic processes and


pen-drawing varies the monotony of his medium. He
should begin by making his drawings as simply as he
can, so that they express his subject. And this sim-
plicity, this quality of suggestion, is the true field of
pen-work. The best work is reticent and sober, giving
the greatest number of essential facts in the fewest
strokes. If you can express a fact with sufficient
intelligibility in half a dozen pen strokes, it is inartistic
and inexpedient to worry it into any number of
scratches. This is often done because the public likes
to see that there has been plenty of manual labour put
into the work it buys. It is greatly impressed with the
knowledge that any particular drawing took days to
complete, and it respects that drawing accordingly, and
has nothing but contempt for a sketch which may have
taken only an hour or so, although the first may be
artless and overloaded with unnecessary detail, and the
second instinct with actualit\' antl suireestion. Hut if
you are drawing a landscape with a pen, that is no
reason for putting in an elaborate foreground of grass,
carefully working up each scjuare inch. Such a subject
can be rendered b) a master in a few strokes, and
though, possibl)-. ) ou may never ecjual the artistry


of the master, you can follow his ideals. Another and
allied point in pen-and-ink art is its adaptability to
what is termed " selection." You have, say, before
you the view or object to be drawn. You do not need
to make a drawing in which you shall niggle up every
part of it, but you select (the trained eye readily does
this) its salient feature and emphasize it and make
it fall properly into the composition, leaving aught else
either suggested or less thoroughly treated. Here
is a pen-drawing made with a very special regard to a
selection only of the essential. The Gatehouse, Moynes
Court, is a singular structure near the shore of the
Severn estuary, two miles below Chepstow. The singu-
larity of its design, rarely paralleled in England, would
give the artist the motive for sketching, and its tapering
lines and curious roofs are best preserved in a drawing
that deals chiefly in outline, and has but little shading
wherewith to confuse the queer profile of these effective
towers. This drawing was reproduced by the bitumen
process. The lines in the foreground, suggestive of
grass, were drawn in pencil. The pen-sketches and
studies of the foremost artists which have been made,
not for publication, but for practice, but which have

I lO


sometimes been reproduced, as, for instance, some slight
sketches of Charles Keene's, delit^^ht the artist's eye

"- ^ iS "^ »' >>- „ /,'■%,'



7} X 9.

Hitiiiiitn f>roiess. Drawing shcnving value 0/ select ion.

simply by reason of their sug«jestive and selective
qualities. If you do not dcli^lu in these things, but


have a desire to (as the untaught public might say) " see
them finished," then it seems Hkely either that you have
not the artistic sense, or else you have not sufficient
training ; but I should suspect you were in the first
category, and should then advise you to leave matters
artistic alone.

You should not forget that in drawing for repro-
duction you are not working like the painter of a
picture. The painter's picture exists for its own sake,
not, like a pen or wash drawing, as only the means to
an end. The end of these drawings is illustration, and
when this is frankly acknowledged, no one has any
rieht to criticize the neatness or untidiness of the
means, so long as the end is kept properly in view.

We have not yet arrived at that stage of civiliza-
tion when black-and-white art shall be appreciated as
fully as colour. When we have won to that pinnacle
of culture, then perhaps an original drawing in pen
or monochrome will be cherished for its own sake ; at
present we are barbaric more than enough, and bright
hues attract us only in lesser degree than our "friend
and brother," Ouashee from the Congo. How nearly
related we are these preferences may show more readily


thiiii the ranter's impassioned oratory. As a drawing-
made for reproduction is only a stage on the way to
the printed ilhistration, and is not the cynosure of
collectors, it is successful or unsuccessful only in so far
as it subserves this purpose. There is really no need
for scrupulous neatness in the original ; there is no
necessity for it to have the appearance of a finished
picture or of delicate execution, so only it will wear
this appearance when reduced. That curious bugbear
of neatness causes want of breadth and vigour, and is
the cause of most of the tight and trammelled handling
we see. Drauofhtsmen at the outset o{ their career
are too much afraid of their mediums of white card-
board and ink, and too scrupulous in submitting their
original drawings, beautifully cleaned uj) and trimmed
round, to editors who, if they know their business, give
no better consideration to them on that account. Mr.
Ruskin has written, in his lUoiiciits of Drannngy some
most misleading things with regard to drawing with
the pen. True, his book was written in the '50's,
before pen-drawing became an art, but it has been
repeatedly reprinted even so lately as 1893, '^'^"^^ ^'*^^"-
sequently it is still actively dangerous, "Coarse art."


i.e. bold work, says Mr. Ruskin — he is speaking of
pen-drawing — "is always bad art." There you see
Mr. Ruskin holding a brief for the British public
which admires the ineffable artistry displayed in
writing the Lord's Prayer on a threepenny piece, but
deplores the immorality shown in drawings done with
a quill pen. The art of a pen-drawing is not to be
calculated on a sliding-scale graduated to micro-
scopical fractions of an inch and applied to its
individual strokes.

The appearance a drawing will present when
reduced may be approximately judged by the use of
a "diminishing glass," that is to say, a concave glass.

Drawings should not be cleaned up with india-
rubber, which destroys the surface of paper or card-
board and renders lines rotten ; bread should be used,
preferably stale bread two days old, crumbled and
rubbed over the drawing with the palm of the hand.
Mr. Ruskin says that in this way " you waste the
good bread, which is wrong ; " but you had better
use a handful of "the good bread" in this way than
injure a good drawing.

The copying of wood engravings or steel prints,



not for their subjects, but for their pecuHar tccJiniques,
is a vicious and inartistic practice. Time used in this
way is time wasted, and worse tlian wasted, because
this practice is utterly at variance with the spirit of
pen -work.

It is not a proof of artistry or consummate drauc^hts-
manship to be able to draw a straight line or a perfect
circle, the absurd legend of Giotto and his circle

There are many labour-saving tricks in drawing for
reproduction, but these have usually little connection
with the purely artistic side of illustration. They have
been devised chiefly to aid the new race of artist-
journalists in drawing for the papers which cater for
that well-known desire of the public to see its news
illustrated hot and hot. Most of these methods and the
larger proportion of the men who practice them are
frankly journalistic, but some few draughtsmen have
succeeded in resolvinsf this sleight of hand into novel
and interesting styles, and their hurried work has
achieved a value all its own, scarcely legitimate, but
aggressive and clamouring for attention.

One of these tricks in illustration is a method


which is largely practised for journalistic illustration in
America — drawing in pen and ink upon photographs,
which are afterwards bleached out, the outline drawings
remaining to be processed. Although not a desirable
practice from an artistic point of view, it is advan-
tageously used for news work or upon any occasion
in which expedition is essential. The photograph to
be treated in this way is printed by the usual silver-
print method, with the exception that the paper used
is somewhat differently prepared. What is known as
^' plain salted paper " is used ; that is to say, paper
prepared without the albumen which gives to ordinary
silver-prints their smooth, shiny appearance. The
paper is prepared by being soaked in a solution made
by the following formula : —

Chlorate of ammonia ... ... ... 100 grains.

Gelatine ... ... ... ... 10 „

Water ... ... ... ... 10 ounces.

The print is made and fixed without toning. It may
now be drawn upon with pen and Indian ink. The
ink should be perfectly black and fixed. The drawing,
if it is to be worth anything artistically, must not aim
at anything like the fulness of detail which the photo-


graph possesses. An outline drawing is readily made
in this way, and a considerable amount of detail may
i)e achieved. Indeed, the temptation is always to go
over the photograph in pen and ink too fully, and
only draughtsmen of accomplishment can resist this
almost irresistible inducement to do too much. Still,
admirable results have been obtained in this way by
artists who know and practise the ver}'- great virtue
of reticence.

When the drawinQf has been finished it is im-
mersed in a solution of bichlorate of mercury dissolved
in alcohol, which removes all traces of the photograph,
leaving the drawing showing uninjured upon plain
white paper. Omissions from the drawing may now
be supplied and corrections made, and it is now ready
for being processed. If very serious omissions are
noticed, the photograph may be conjured back by
immersing the paper in a solution of hyposulphite of

Another and readier way is to draw upon photo-
graphs printed on ferro-prussiate paper. This paper
may be purchased at any good photographic materials
shop, or it can be prepared b)- brushinq- a sheet of


paper over with a sensitizing solution composed of the
two following solutions, A and B, prepared separately
and then mixed in equal volumes : —

Citrate of iron and ammonia


Ferricyanide of potassium

' Water

^ ( ^Vater

i-| ounces.


The paper must be prepared thus in a dark room
and quickly dried. It will remain in good condition
for three or four months, and is best preserved in a
calcium tube. Prints made upon ferro-prussiate paper
are formed in Prussian blue, and are fixed in the
simplest way, on being taken from the printing frame,
by washing in cold water.

An Indian ink drawing may now be made upon
this blue photographic print, and sent for process
without the necessity of bleaching, because blue will
not reproduce. If, on the other hand, it is desired
to see the drawing as black lines upon white paper,
the blue print may be bleached out in a few seconds
by immersing it in a dish of water in which a small
piece of what chemists call carbonate of soda (common
washing soda) has been dissolved.


Outline drawings for reproduction b)- process may
be made upon tracing-paper. Most of the rough illus-
trations and portrait sketches printed in the morning
and evening newspapers are tracings made in this way
from photographs or from other more elaborate illus-
trations. Although this is not at all a dignified branch

of art, yet some of the little portrait heads that appear
from time to time in the St. lames s Gazette, Pall Mall
Gazette, and the ]\\sti)n)ister Gazette are models of
selection and due economy of line, calculated to give all
the essentials of portraiture, while having due regard to
the exigencies of the newspaper printing press.


The two~bt!tline portrait sketches shown here are
reproduced from the St. James s Gazette. Their thick
lines have a tendency to become offensive when sub-
jected to careful book-printing, but appearing as they
originally did in the rapidly printed editions of an
evening paper, this emphasis of line was exactly suited
to the occasion.

Translucent white tracing-paper should be used for
tracing purposes, pinned securely through the corners of
the photograph or drawing to be copied in this manner
on to a drawing-board, so that the tracing may not be
shifted while in progress. No pencilling is necessary,
but the tracing should be made in ink, straight away.


Fixed Indian ink should be used, because when the
tracing is finished it will be necessary for process pur-
poses to paste it upon cardboard, and, tracing-paper
being so thin, the moisture penetrates, and would
smudsfe a drawinof made in soluble inks unless the
very greatest care was taken. Old tracing-paper which
has turned a yellow colour should on no account be .
used, and tracing-cloth is rarely available, because,
although beautifully transparent, it is generally too
greasy for pure line-work.

Pen-drawings which are to be made and reproduced
for the newspaper press at the utmost speed are made
upon lithographic transfer paper in lithographic ink, a
stubborn and difficult material of a fatty nature. Draw-
ings made in this way are not photographed, but
transferred direct to the zinc plate, and etched in a ..
very short space of time. No reduction in scale is
possible, and the original drawing is inevitably destroyed '
in the process of transferring.


Wash drawings for reproduction by half-tone process
should be made upon smooth or finely grained card-
boards. Reeves' London board is very good for the
purpose, and so is a French board they keep, stamped
in the corner of each sheet with the initials A.L. in a
circle. Wash drawings should be made in different
crradations of the same colour if a crood result is to be
expected : thus a wash drawing in lampblack should
be executed only in shades of lampblack, and not varied
by the use of sepia in some parts, or of Pa^'ne's grey in
others. Lampblack is a favourite material, and excellent
from the photographic point of view. Payne's grey, or
neutral tint, at one time had a great vogue, but it is too
blue in all its shades for altogether satisfactory repro-
duction, although the illustration, T/ie HoiLses of Par-
liament, shown on p. 122, has come well with its use.

L'el-: -

Hi X 17^. Tllli llOLSKS 01 lAKLlAMliM A 1 NUIIH, 1 ROM THE Kl\ ER.
iras/t (frau-iiif in I'ayiK- . Unless absolutely unavoidable,
drawings should not be sent marked '• \ size," " ^ scale,"
and so on, because these terms are apt to mislead.
People not accustomed to measurements are very un-
certain in their understanding of them, and, absurd as it
may seem to those who deal in mensuration, they very
frequently take \ scale and h size as synonymous terms ;
while \ scale is really ] size, and so on, in proportion.

The proportions a drawing will assume when reduced
may be ascertained in this way. You have, say, a
narrow upright drawing, as shown in the above diagram,
and you want the width reduced to a certain measure-
ment, but having marked this off are at a loss to
know what height the reproduction will bo. Supposing
it to be a pen-drawing, vignetted, as most pen-drawings
are ; in the first place, light pencil lines touching the
farthest projections of the drawing should be ruled to
eacli of its four sides, meeting accurately at the angles



A, B, C, D. This frame being made, a diagonal line
should be lightly ruled from upper to lower corner,
either — as shown — from B to C. or from A to D. The

^/ {M 4

measurement of the proposed reduction should then be
marked off upon the base line at E, and a perpendicular
line ruled from it to meet the diagonal. The point of
contact, F, gives the height that was to be found, and a


horizontal line from F to G completes the diagram, and
gives the correct proportions of the block to be made

It will readily be seen that large copies of small
sketches can be made in exact proportions by a further
application of the diagonal, but care should be taken to
have all these lines drawn scrupulously accurate, because
the slightest deviation tlirows the proportions all out.


Pen-drawing is ruled by expediency more, perhaps,
than any art. I shall not say that one method is more
right than another in the management of textures, or in
the elaboration or mere suggestion of detail, for line
work is, to begin with, a purely arbitrary rendering of
tones. There is nothing like line in nature. Take up
an isolated brick ; it does not suggest line in any way.
Build it up with others into a wall, and you can in pen
and ink render that wall in many ways that will be
equally convincing and right. It may be expressed in
terms of splatter-work, which can be made to represent
admirably a wall where the bricks have become welded
into an homogeneous mass, individually indistinguishable
by age, or of vertical or horizontal lines that may or may
not take account of each individual brick and the joints
of the mortar that binds the courses tosrether. Cross-


hatching, though a cheap expedient and a decaying con-
vention, may be used. But to lose sight of ordinary
atmospheric conditions is no more privileged in pen-
work than in paint. This is not by any means unne-
cessary or untimely advice, though it should be. The
fact of using a pen instead of a brush does not empower
anybody to play tricks with the solar system, though one
sees it constantly done. One continually sees in pen-
drawing the laws of light and shade set at naught, and
nobody says anything against it — perhaps it looks
smart. Certainly the effect is novel, and novelty is a
powerful factor in anything. But to draw a wall
shining with a strong diffused light which throws a
great black shadow, is contrary to art and nature both.
" Nature," according to Mr. Whistler, " may be ' creep-
ing up,' but she has not reached that point yet. When
one sees suns settinir behind the cast ends of cathedrals,
with other vagaries of that sort, one simply classes such
thinofs with that amusinor erratum of Mr. Rider

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Online LibraryCharles G. (Charles George) HarperA practical hand-book of drawing for modern methods of reproduction → online text (page 5 of 7)