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Drawing double stars

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#1 JimP

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 10:07 AM

I know many observers are using computer graphics/software to produce beautiful examples of colorful double stars. I want to draw them on paper (in my Astronomical Logbook) and I want the drawings to be in color. Does anyone have suggestions for what to use? How do you get the star to stand out from the background if it is black?

best,

Jim

#2 Jef De Wit

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 10:26 AM

Give pastel pencils on black paper a try. They give a more vivid color than normal pencils, but they are more difficult to work accurate.

#3 Roel

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 11:44 AM

Like Jeff says: pastel pencil are great for drawing bright dots on black paper. Although sharpening those chalky soft tips is something I still find very hard. Does someone knows a good method? Pin point stars really require sharp pencils.

#4 cildarith

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:00 PM

Try layering the color over stars that have initially been drawn in bright white.

#5 Jeremy Perez

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:10 PM

Like Jef and Rony described, I've had success with pastel pencils on black too. I almost always go digital, because I have a whole system for that. But the actual pastel-on-black drawings look really nice, and could even make for some framable work if you wanted to go that route.

Sharpening the pencils is frustrating. Even within the same brand (Conte/Derwent/Faber-Castell Pit/Stabilo) the binder-pigment mixture varies enough that some colors of lead break easier than others. I'll use a sharpener to work away the wood and some of the lead, but don't try to point it much further, depending on how fragile that color is. Then from there, an Xacto/craft knife can take it the rest of the way to a point. You can also hone it on a small sanding block to keep the point fresh while you work. Even with that, I still sketch larger than normal with pastel because the best details are still larger/blunter than what I can get with graphite, so the larger scale helps with that.

For brighter stars, I'll try to incorporate a dot of bright white at the center of a colored star to help give it some brilliance. If you're having trouble getting the white to stick on top of any pastel that you've already applied, or if it get's faded by applying color near or over it--you can try using a fine-tip white paint marker to get a nice bright dot.

You can also use a blending stump or paint brush (as in the Scott Mellish technique) to lightly apply a soft halo of white or colored pastel around brighter stars to convey a little glare and brilliance.

All of this can be a lot more finicky than graphite, especially at the eyepiece. You may want to consider a graphite field sketch with notes, and then recreate indoors for the pastel-on-black version to have a little more control and can tell more easily what the color looks like on paper.

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#6 JimP

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:24 PM

Great info guys! Yes, I would definitely draw with graphite at the eyepiece then do a color version later,inside. I'll have to drop in the College art store and see what is there.
The reason I want to draw is because I want the drawing IN the logbook along with any descriptions etc and not on a separate piece of paper which I most certainly will loose!

best,

Jim

#7 JimP

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:28 PM

P.S. The drawing would be on white paper with the background painted black using gouache.






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