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Charcoal or Conte?

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#1 Jeebs

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 08:39 PM

Hi, I was thinking of starting up sketching as I am not much into the technicalities of astronomy. I just like the beauty and would like to try offering something to the CN community. My dilemma is what medium to start with.

I have purchased various erasers and blending stumps as well as some lightly textured black sketching paper. I read on the lunie bin about using the Conte' crayon as it blends really well. However, while at the art store the clerk said I should start out with charcoal as it is easy to work with then move on to either Conte' crayons or pastels.

Should a beginner such as myself begin with charcoal as suggested or jump into another medium? Should I also stick with the black textured paper or go with white?

Any other suggestions for a newbie would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Jerry

#2 kraterkid

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:31 PM

Welcome to the sketching Forum Jerry! :D :rainbow: :D

First of all, let me tell you that the clerk, however well intentioned he was, obviously does not know what he is talking about. That is probably why he's a clerk and not a sketcher. Choice of media is often made easier if you know what kind of objects you enjoy observing. What's your preference Jerry?:question: Say lunar sketching, please! :grin: Although charcoal is a great medium, Conte' Crayon which can be purchased in both stick and pencil form, is very easy to apply and control, does not have the same tendency to powder, is generally less messy and as you already mentioned is wonderfully smooth when blended, providing a wide range of tonal variation and control. I feel that the intensity of the white Conte' is more white than white charcoal and the blacks of Conte' are easier to maintain versus charcoal's tendency to powder and fade. Conte' erases well and as long as you start off lightly you'll be able to get back to a nice clean surface when you erase. Of course if you are more into DSO's you may want to choose graphite or black Conte' on white paper and invert digitally. I recommend Strathmore black Artagain series 400 paper for its smoooth texture, if DSO's are your bag and white Strathmore drawing paper in a texture that suits your media.

#3 Jeebs

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:06 PM

Choice of media is often made easier if you know what kind of objects you enjoy observing. What's your preference Jerry? Say lunar sketching, please!



As a matter of fact lunar sketching will be the bulk of what I do as DSO's are not a sight I see much in my small scope. I drive a truck for a living and so many of the places I stop are very well lit. :foreheadslap: That leaves pretty much the moon, planets and some star clusters for objects of interest for sketching.

The moon however gives so much to offer for sketching though. It is available many nights of the month, it gives different shadow variations that offer great contrasty images to put to paper. Partly cloudy nights can add character to the moon itself. The list could go on.

I seen your tutorial in the Lunie bin and that's what got me interested in not only sketching, but using the same media as yourself.

Thank you for your input kraterkid, it is greatly appreciated.

#4 TenthEnemy

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:25 PM

For lunar sketching I prefer pastel chalk on black paper; it gives a very natural look. Black ink and graphite is my second choice for white paper.

White charcoal is great for globulars that resolve into stars, but I think conte is better for everything else, including the moon. I prefer using graphite and black ink for fuzzies and stars respectively.

#5 Jeebs

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 10:39 PM

For lunar sketching I prefer pastel chalk on black paper; it gives a very natural look. Black ink and graphite is my second choice for white paper.

White charcoal is great for globulars that resolve into stars, but I think conte is better for everything else, including the moon. I prefer using graphite and black ink for fuzzies and stars respectively.



That sounds very good as well TenthEnemy. Is there any rule stating you cannot use various medium on sketches?
That sounds quite interesting. :thinking:

#6 TenthEnemy

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 12:35 AM

There's absolutely no rules; it's all personal preference. As long as you enjoy sketching you're benefiting from it. Try any materials you think might work. It's a learning experience; You'll find something you like eventually. I'm constantly changing the way I do my sketches, and I'm usually happy with the results.

#7 Jeff Young

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:10 AM

Indeed, I tried many different media before I found combinations I was reasonably happy with. About the only thing that people all seem consistent on is black paper: pretty much everyone I know uses Strathmore Artagain (even those of us in areas of the world where it's hard to get).

FWIW, I use white Derwent Graphitints on black paper for solar (the Graphitints are probably most similar to Conte, but they're just a little bit harder and less crumbly), black pencil on white paper for deep sky and planetary, and I'm still experimenting for Lunar.

Cheers,
-- Jeff.

#8 Jeebs

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 06:30 AM

Great replies everyone. I am getting ready to leave out for another month of work out on the road. I will pop in every so-often as I can. Maybe with a first sketch to be posted :D

Take care everyone!

-Jerry

#9 kraterkid

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 10:50 AM

There's absolutely no rules; it's all personal preference. As long as you enjoy sketching you're benefiting from it. Try any materials you think might work. It's a learning experience; You'll find something you like eventually. I'm constantly changing the way I do my sketches, and I'm usually happy with the results.


Beautifully worded!

#10 phxbird

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 02:17 PM

I still lijke pencils and drawing paper! At 54 years old i just don't want the learning curve of CG work and though I am getting ready to try 400 Strathmore paper and white pencils I doubt I will use it much. Just something satisfying to me to take a pencil in hand and put it to a good sheet of drawing paper! Still sketching is an art so any medium is fair game!

#11 Jeebs

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:23 PM

Hopefully I can get by an art store sometime on this trip out on the road. It is kind of hard to do while driving a semi tractor-trailer. Never know though, I might get lucky. :p I will buy both charcoal and Conte' crayons. I have a pad of black paper made by Canson. It is textured on one side and smooth on the other. I figure I will try using both sides to draw on. Practice drawing on it first before I do an actual sketch of anything so I get an idea of how to work with the paper and the charcoal/Conte'. I am pretty excited about it.

#12 kraterkid

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 09:41 PM

Cool Jerry, great idea! :waytogo: My advice is to try different strokes with the white and black Conte', make some broad strokes and use your blenders to create gradtions of tone. Note how the medium acts when you do as many things as are done when you sketch. Blenders can be made from a variety of synthetic packing foams and sponges as well as paper blending stumps both rolled and formed, and I've found my own combination that firs me pretty well. You'll do the same. I'm really looking forward to seeing your first posts (even practice posts). Enjoy sketching Jerry! :D






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