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M-42 is Hard!

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#1 phxbird


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Posted 11 February 2010 - 11:27 PM

Here is a sketch of M42. The scope was a Celestron 6" Refractor, F/8, on an AS-GT mount with a 16" Tripod extension. A dielectric diagonal was used along with a 16mm plossl at 76x. 50 lb sketch paper with #2 and HB pencils was the medium. Initial smudging was done with a stub then resmoothed with fingers.
Like the previous poster, I am not very happy with this sketch but it does portray the scene through the eyepiece fairly accurately, especially the star placement and initial nebulosity. The edges of the nebulae are what did not work well. Next time I intend to use white oil pastel on black strathmore paper to see if it will more accurately portray the edges of nebulosity.

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#2 JayinUT


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Posted 11 February 2010 - 11:48 PM

Phxbird, nicely done. I do like your star placements.

I think M42/3 is one of the harder images to nab. I'm still not thrilled with any of my first attempts. Perhaps that would be a good thread, posting one's first M42 sketch.

#3 phxbird


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Posted 12 February 2010 - 09:01 AM

Good point. Unfortunately this is not my first sketch just the first one I posted! Still, the other sketches I have done were over 15 years ago and it is obvious I am out of practice!

#4 CarlosEH



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Posted 12 February 2010 - 03:04 PM


The Orion Nebula 9M42) is a difficult target to render, although spectacular in the eyepiece field. This impressive stellar nursery contains bright and dark sections that are subtle and difficult to render. Please continue to practice and you will be happy with your results.

I have inverted, applied curves to, and blurred your image. This is to give you an idea on how you may adjust your observation. I would also suggest to attempt to blend the nebulous portions before scanning (e.g finger or stump).


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#5 ladip63


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Posted 12 February 2010 - 03:08 PM

Nice sketch phxbird.

#6 frank5817



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Posted 12 February 2010 - 07:49 PM


This is a target that is perhaps the toughest deep sky object to capture. The delicate complex features make it a real challenge. You have done remarkably well on your first attempt and I think you will be back in the future trying again.
I give you high marks for rising to the challenge. :bow: :cool:

Frank :)

#7 markseibold


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Posted 12 February 2010 - 08:22 PM


A good attempt for starters. :bow: :bow: :bow:
Anyone that attempts the M42 nebula as a first time sketch is daring, bold and well. . . very human! (;

As you mentioned that you will attempt it again with oil pastels, I might suggest that you do not start with oil pastels. They are very heavy and crayon-like. Almost gooey-greasy as I would describe. They are more like thick melted crayons or slightly dry oil paints. I would say sketching with lipstick would be a similar experience. It is almost impossible to get a soft appearance of the translucent nebulosity with an oil pastel. I've tried it it! My art teacher wanted to sketch each others portrait one night while we dined. She nor I had any art materials so she suggested we use her eye liner and lip stick. I can tell you, that is what oil pastels are like. Maybe the festoons and oval knots in Jupiter’s cloud belts would be rendered well with oil pastels? But then you might try them anyway as it could produce some wild artistic effects! I always say experimentation is required in art.

But do try one step down and buy a variety of dry soft pastel sticks and black Strathmore Artagain paper is preferred. After applying a very light coating to the paper to render the general lineage of the nebulas shape, you will then easily blend or smear those lines by brushing away from the original lines with a blending stump, cotton swab or paper towel and the translucent effect will appear like an ethereal nebulosity in differing levels of transparency instantly before your eyes. If it thins out to disappear too soon, repeat the lines of chalk again by softly scratching or scribbling where you want to render more light. Then blend and smear again to desired effect. Some repeated practice with this method will bring the appearance you are looking for.

*Here are a few examples of where I easily rendered with the soft smearing technique explained (M42 is the third example below that I am long overdue to produce a new large version of) >

M32 - Large Pastel by Mark Seibold
Vernal Equinox 2006 For Spaceweather.com - Large Pastel by Mark Seibold

M42 Orion Nebula - Two Small 9" X 12" pastels by Mark Seibold

I look forward to seeing your progress,

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#8 phxbird


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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:07 AM

Oops I meant chalk pastels! hadn't thought about doing nebulae that way, thanks i will try it. I have painted with oil before but prefer chalk! Plus I did smear the image before scanning. However I need to use a lower dpi to scan with. The higher one makes it look grainy! Thanks everybody your comments are greatly appreciated!

#9 rerun


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Posted 13 February 2010 - 01:03 PM

Hallo Paul,

good start of M42,I like your sketch. :jump:
The idea of Carlos to invert your sketch was very good,the same sketch looks very different.
Keep on trying,I still wait for more sketches from you.



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