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Milky Way sketch

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#1 FJA

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 04:32 PM

Back in 2006 I decided that doing a sketch of the Milky Way would be a cool thing to do. At that time, I'd torn a muscle in my back and couldn't carry my scope in and out, so I began a naked eye sketch of our galaxy through Cygnus and down towards Sagittarius. I never finished that sketch as the weather closed in for a few weeks and my back got better. I dug out that sketch recently and decided to have another go at it, although I thought that I'd start again from scratch as the 2006 sketch wasn't that great.

Last night's sketch was done while lying prone in a reclining garden lounger and it wasn't easy, with the sketch book held upright on my chest it made for an awkward process. I decided to just do the part of the Milky Way that runs through Cygnus and slightly south. I included Cygnus, Lyra and Aquila in the sketch but left out the other constellations in that area. I also only added the brightest stars - I'd have been there a week if I'd tried to put all of them in, as it was mag 6.5+ at the zenith!
Unfortunately, by the time I'd got as far as adding the Milky way glow the sky started to deteriorate with mist moving in.

For the sketch, I used an A4 (11.75x8.5 inches/297x210mm) sketchbook with heavy cartridge paper (my usual book for sketches), a 2B pencil for the stars, a 4B for the Milky Way and a chamois leather for the smudging. I'd never previously used a chamois leather before as it never even occurred to me, but it is ten times more effective for smudging nebulosity than a blending stump (tortillon) or finger tip is; how I'd heard about using a chamois was via Jeremy Perez's excellent Astronomy Now series Drawn To The Universe. I bought mine from Halfords (for people outside the UK, Halfords are a retail chain who sell car and bike accessories), for around £3.99. It smells disgusting but works a treat!

The sketch isn't totally complete as, looking at it again, I really should have added more stars and the surrounding constellations, such as Delphinus, Lacerta and Sagitta, etc, but I daresay I will repeat this at another time, when conditions are better and I have more time.

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#2 Tommy5

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 06:00 PM

Very nice milky way sketch you must have dark skies to view the galaxy overhead like that.

#3 JanisR

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 07:38 PM

Lovely! Another way to do soft nebulosity is by applying the pencil/pastel to a sponge (or to your chamois) and smudging that on the paper. Tapping works well, too.

#4 JayinUT

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Posted 15 August 2010 - 11:12 PM

Faith,

Great job on that sketch! Your processing really kept the contrasts and the highs and lows really well. I actually like this one without all the other constellations. Good thing is since it is scanned, you can take the original and add to it as long as you keep it backed up in multiple places. Again, fun capture.

On a side note, I spent the weekend in the mountains and had a wonderful view of some pine trees in the distance, the Hyades and Aldebaran with the Pleiades directly above them and I wanted to sketch it naked eye . . . . I had broken down, everything stored and the sleeping bag and pads under the bag were just too much. Your sketch has made me regret missing that opportunity.

#5 FJA

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 06:14 AM

Thanks everyone.

Tommy - yes, our skies are quite dark here. Mag 6.5, even 6.7, on a good night.

Janis - I'll give it a go. I'm glad I have finally found a good way of rendering faint nebulosity!

Jay - you'll surely get another chance before summer's over. All I did with the processing was to convert it to black and white from the colour scan (I find that scanning in black & white or grayscale loses some of the detail), tweak the Levels and then invert the image from the original black on white.

#6 Jeremy Perez

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 12:07 PM

Faith, it's great to see your finished Milky Way sketch! The way you treated the contours and structures is excellent.

That chamois is pretty versatile, isn't it? Sorry to hear yours had some stink on it...mine was pretty tame when I bought it. Like Janis mentioned, it also works pretty well when you load the chamois with graphite (/charcoal/pastel) first and then apply directly to the sketch...you can get some pretty subtle effects that way.

#7 FJA

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 01:16 PM

Thanks Jeremy. I'm pleased you like the way I did the countours and structures, as I was a bit worried about those.

My chamois is now a bit tamer after a session in the open air! But, smelly or not, it's one of the best sketching tools I possess, fat better than a blending stump. Until now, I've not been really able to get nebulosity as I've wanted to.

#8 CarlosEH

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 03:39 PM

Faith,

An excellent observation of the Milky Way (Cygnus region). It is not easy to render the subtle nature of the Milky Way depending upon the darkness of your observing site. The Cygnus region in particular is a difficult one to record (the other being the Sagittarius/Scorpius region). Thank you for sharing it with us all.

Carlos

#9 Special Ed

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 08:57 PM

Faith,

Nice rendering of the Summer Triangle region of the Milky Way. Some folks who don't get much of a chance to get out to dark sky sites mistake the Milky Way for clouds--your drawing shows why they think that. :cool:

I've never used a chamois before (except on a car). I'll have to try that tool.

Some people think that lunar features are the hardest target. Then we see people like you who say to themselves, "I think I'll draw our galaxy tonight." :grin:

#10 frank5817

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 10:41 PM

Faith,

Beautiful sketch. Any night you can see the Milky Way through Cygnus is a real treat. You are seeing much more than that.

Frank :)

#11 markseibold

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 02:26 AM

Faith

Well if I may say so beyond the technical aspects that you have achieved, this is just an awesome work of art! It's very provocative yet in a positive way, without saying any more... :bow: :bow: :bow:

As Frank said, that you are seeing much more than that- You've captured something visceral and symbiotic here which I feel shows much more than simply a technical sketch.

It reminds me of what Georgia O'Keefe would render if she had the chance to view the Milky Way, and she must have in the desert southwest in the early 20th century. I have not attempted large whole sections of the Milky Way yet but you may have inspired me to now.

Thanks for posting this; I look forward to seeing more of your work on a similar theme.

Mark

#12 Jef De Wit

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 03:31 AM

Faith
I have a lot of respect for people making naked eye sketches of the Milky Way... I never had the courage to start one! Why trying to see some subtile detail in a distant galaxy (with a expensive telescope) when you can see a lot more detail in our galaxy (with a free telescope... our eyes)?
I agree, blending stumps are not my thing either. I like the use of a cotton swab instead.

#13 FJA

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 08:38 AM

Wow, thanks for all the lovely responses!

I'd love to do this from the Southern Hemisphere one day, and I will. Once I have my new 20" I will start saving for another trip Down Under.

#14 CarlosEH

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Posted 17 August 2010 - 11:41 AM

Faith,

From a vacation home in Northern California (USA) the Milky Way is magnificent. I have never seen the Milky Way so bright and rich with stars than from this location (~900 meters (~3,000 feet) elevation). One can easily see close to 7th magnitude stars on a dark night at this location. The Milky Way is so bright over regions that it appears as "clouds" to the naked eye. I have produced an impression of how I have observed the Cygnus region of the Milky Way from memory and notes taken over time. I hope that you like it. I look forward to your future observations.

Carlos

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#15 JimPie

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Posted 18 August 2010 - 02:07 AM

Faith,
Excellent rendering of Cygnus to Aquila Milky Way! I like the way you captured the North American Nebula. :bow:

#16 stevecoe

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 02:28 AM

Jeremy and Faith;

Do you mean that you used a piece of the kind of chamois that you would buy at an auto store to get the water off you newly washed automobile? Did you cut it into small pieces?

Clear skies;
Steve Coe

#17 FJA

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Posted 22 August 2010 - 10:17 AM

Steve - that's what I've done. I went to the local Halford's (large UK car accessory dealer) and just bought a small chamois. In one of his Astronomy Now columns, Jeremy mentioned "artists' chamois" but I never found chamois leather for sale in any art shop when I went hunting for one, so I just went to this car parts place instead.
I am not sure of any difference between an '"artists' chamois" and a car-washing chamois, though, maybe it's the size?

I've not cut mine up into pieces, maybe I should. It'd probably make things easier.

Jim - thanks for your comment!

Carlos - nice sketch. I like the way you've done the star clouds.

#18 Jeremy Perez

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Posted 24 August 2010 - 12:06 AM

Hi Steve,

It is the same material, just smaller. I think I bought mine at Michael's, but cutting down an auto supply chamois to a manageable size should do the trick. Blick Art Supply sells them also: Natural Chamois

#19 mikesemmler

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:24 AM

Good job, very good scetch

Michael

#20 Knuklhdastrnmr

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 06:54 AM

I'm enjoying these sketches. Trying to sketch the Milky Way is still daunting for me.

#21 CarlosEH

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 12:45 PM

Faith,

Thank you for the compliment on my Milky Way sketch of my memory of the scene. If I have the chance I would like to make a mosaic of such renderings of different sections of the Milky Way from that extremely dark locale. I look forward to your future observations.

Carlos

#22 nunciusaustralis

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Posted 25 August 2010 - 02:26 PM

Amazing . congratulations. :applause:






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