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Sketching setup at the eyepiece?

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#1 bluesteel

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 08:13 PM

I am looking to get into this wonderful form of observing, and would like any and all recommendations, with or without pictures, for how people set up their sketching setup to sketch at your telescopes eyepiece. One big issue I have is dew and moisture from the night air curling up my paper to some extent, making it difficult to properly use graphite pencils to shade levels of darkness. I would want to start with graphite pencils and several styles of erasers on lighter or white paper. As of this moment, I have sketched star fields in open clusters, but would like to start sketching the moon, due to everyone's fantastic posts with their own sketches. Thank you for any and all input!

#2 mike73

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 01:10 PM

I don't really use anything special when I sketch but just make sure you keep your pencils close to hand otherwise high magnification lunar sketches can get tricky very quickly!
I use a folding camping table and lay a very dim red torch on it so I can see exactly what pencils/ brushes I need to pick up.

Dew can sometimes become a problem but if it is a very bad night I just keep everything covered until I need to use it, I also use quite a heavy weight paper which I guess helps a little.

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#3 hbanich

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 06:28 PM

I'm as simple as it gets, just a small sketchpad that I hold with one hand while I hold a pencil with the other. This works equally well for me while sketching at the eyepiece or at my observing table. I do place the sketchbook on the table while writing notes but I'm always holding it one way or the other to keep the pages flat.

#4 Randolph Jay

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:00 PM

Welcome to the joy of astronomical sketching! I decide just what I will be sketching so I can have only what I need for that sketch ready on a small folding table. For lunar sketching I use black Artagain 400 sketch paper. For deep sky I use a Strathmore 400 series sketch book ( it's a general purpose white sketch paper ). Any way both of these papers seem heavy enough to resist dew if it's not too bad. I use a kneaded eraser and a plastic eraser and I also find an eraser shield helpful. For lunar sketching I use white and black Conte pencils and crayons and sometimes white charcoal. For deep sky I use various graphite pencils and blending stumps ( blending stumps are available in art supply stores, very cheap, and they help blend your sketch to portray unresolved stars or nebulae ). Hope some of this helps! Enjoy!
Randolph

#5 youngamateur42

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 09:42 PM

When I first got into sketching, I started in a lined notebook. Slowly I began getting better methods, skill, log sheets, etc. I use custom made log sheets I made myself with just white printer paper. I still have to deal with the dew and moisture though. To cope with this, I have several clear plastic page protectors that keep them nice and dry. When I'm ready to sketch I pull them out, put it on my clipboard and I'm ready to go.


Edit: here's the link to my sketching log sheet:

http://theyoungastro...ching-template/

#6 Knuklhdastrnmr

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 08:01 AM

I made a clipboard for sketching that incorporates a cork surface and an LED light on a gooseneck. I can use either a red or a green LED. I have a couple of pencil holders that I put velcro patches on so I can stick them to the back of the clipboard when I'm not using them. They also hold the larger sized blending stumps. I also use a sandpaper paddle to create dust from Conte crayons that I pick up with the blending stumps to trasnfer to paper.

I really don't know what to tell you about dew. My observing locations rarely present that problem. When they dew (sorry couldn't resist) I generally call it a night and cover everything.

#7 azure1961p

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 09:45 AM

I've got one of those clipboards that has a calculator as part of the clip and it opens up for storage of drawing materials. Its all I need.

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#8 David Gray

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 09:25 AM

Perhaps a dedicated drawing board along the lines of the attached? If you want something more ‘hands-free’ than a clipboard. Depending on your particular circumstances, why not both! After all you can also rest the latter on the former as the situation allows.

My board was simply constructed in a couple of hours back in 1968 and the b/w photo shows its application with my 10” Newtonian at my former home (1955-76). Now I still have it on the same stepladder that is no longer needed for reaching the eyepiece! You will see that the light is shielded from view by the hinged lid on the rear part of the board. This has served me well all those years and is still robust enough for my 16st. frame to rest on! Lighting? Whatever you find that suits!

Paper: [This is an extract from an earlier thread.]:

http://www.cloudynig...5779122/page...
I used to use Ivorex or Bristol Board. But now use Xerox Colotech+ (100 gsm) inkjet printer paper £10 ($15) for 500 sheets some years back; and some years back got a deal on three packs for £20 ($30) and have just recently started on the second. So much more economical than the board; very smooth, white (no yellowing yet!) and damp-resistant outdoors at night. Also gives good prints!

Of course I still may want to use a more art-type paper for other than planetary drawings. If, as I plan, were to tackle the moon I probably would go for something more textured than the very smooth Colotech; and possibly for DSO etc. These art papers can be very dew-affected and I found that keeping them between the pages of a suitable size thin book till needed avoided this problem to a large degree.

Not saying do as I do but maybe give you another slant on the matter that you can build on.

Regards,
David.

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#9 kenrenard

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 08:12 PM

One piece of gear that I like is a headlamp. I picked up a Black Diamond headlamp which has a dim red light. I also found a little plastic toolbox with a tray to store pencils and such makes having everything in reach. I have some big rubber bands on my clipboard to keep paper in place.

Good luck with your sketching.

Ken

#10 JakeSaloranta

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Posted 28 October 2013 - 01:11 AM

I'm as simple as it gets, just a small sketchpad that I hold with one hand while I hold a pencil with the other.


Same here. Headlight, cardboard sketching template and a HB pencil. At the eyepiece I sketch everything I see and record it as well as I can. Later on I do some finishing touches (round up the stars, cotton swabs for nebulae...) inside the house. Back in the good old days I used to do all of the sketching outside without ever touching the sketch again after the event. Few years of ugly sketches, many nights in 99 % humidity and -30°C I decided to go with the flow and simply do my the best I can at the eyepiece and do the rest of it back home.

/Jake

#11 bluesteel

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 03:34 PM

Thank you thank you everyone for your insightful responses!! I like the variety of different things that work the best for each individual the best!

I don't really use anything special when I sketch but just make sure you keep your pencils close to hand otherwise high magnification lunar sketches can get tricky very quickly!


mike73, and that is why my main stipulation for the scope I purchased was tracking of some sort! No more chasing things for me! The grey hairs in my head tell me I'm too old for that anyhow... all 10 of em :p What kind of folding camping table did you get? Looks pretty portable and sturdy at the same time!

Strathmore 400 series sketch book


Randolph Jay, this is 60 pound paper, correct? Also, what sort of eraser shield do you use? I have looked at a couple, and they seem to be rather thick, which unless using a kneaded eraser, would not work out too well. I have ended up resorting to an eraser pencil, with pink eraser instead of lead in the center for the time being, along with a kneaded eraser.

Edit: here's the link to my sketching log sheet:

http://theyoungastro...ching-template/


youngamateur42, I am liking that idea to make myself write more than I usually do in my notes for the sketch! Also, fantastic blog and work with your ATM skills! Keep up the great work! :grin:

I made a clipboard for sketching that incorporates a cork surface and an LED light on a gooseneck. I can use either a red or a green LED. I have a couple of pencil holders that I put velcro patches on so I can stick them to the back of the clipboard when I'm not using them. They also hold the larger sized blending stumps. I also use a sandpaper paddle to create dust from Conte crayons that I pick up with the blending stumps to trasnfer to paper.


knuklhdastnmr, cork! Great idea for single sheets! Velcro for your drawing utensils even better! When using your blending stumps, do you find it easier to make fine gradients of shading with your sandpaper/conte crayons method, or have you ever tried just scribbling a black dot with varying pencils to pick up the graphite with your blending stick with better or less success?

I've got one of those clipboards that has a calculator as part of the clip and it opens up for storage of drawing materials. Its all I need.


azure1961p, I've got one of those, sans the fancy calculator :grin: , lying around somewhere. It is metal though... wonder how the dew will like it. It would beat the pants off my tupperware box of drawing utensils!

Perhaps a dedicated drawing board along the lines of the attached?


David Gray, that looks like a really nice setup! I see you have a light at the top shining down on your table. Any special design of the light box? Multiple bulbs? Dimmer switch? I would want to avoid having to move my pencil and hand to look underneath the shadows they create when drawing, since I am that guy that will write your name on a grain of rice if a proper wager that does not involve money is involved. (I would rather gloat :p). I have a flourescent drafting table lamp with 18" bulbs which works wonderfully for that respect, however, I think that would be a bit overkill in the night sky...

One piece of gear that I like is a headlamp.


kenrenard, how wide of a beam does that headlamp create? enough to cover at least half an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper? I have tried several lesser varieties of headlamps, and the beam was very concentrated at only one spot, and faded quickly, making shading near impossible without constant head movement.

cardboard sketching template


JakeSaloranta, could you elaborate on your cardboard sketching template? It it a bunch of circles and shapes? If it can be done quickly and efficiently like a Banksy painting, then I'm all for it!

Thank you again everyone for the wealth of information provided!

#12 David Gray

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 04:08 PM

Shadow problems: simple - don't have the light central but set opposite whichever hand you use!

I used a 12 volt Christmas tree bulb on a 9 volt battery for many years but for many years since have been using a
mains variable adapter quite happily.

The bulb housing is simply attached to the hinged shielding lid. Plus some Blu Tack to keep wires out of the way!

Cheers,
David.

#13 kenrenard

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 07:07 PM

I did some measurements with the headlamp. It cast a beam about the size of a large dinner plate in about 18 inches at my arms length it's close to the size of a beachball. I have included the link.

http://blackdiamonde...headlamp-BD6...

Hope this is helpful.


Ken

#14 Knuklhdastrnmr

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 07:17 PM

"knuklhdastnmr, cork! Great idea for single sheets! Velcro for your drawing utensils even better! When using your blending stumps, do you find it easier to make fine gradients of shading with your sandpaper/conte crayons method, or have you ever tried just scribbling a black dot with varying pencils to pick up the graphite with your blending stick with better or less success?"

I sketch white on black. My mind just works that way. I would think the method you describe would work the same way.

Yes, I use the dust to try to recreate the soft gray gradients in nebulosity. Sometimes I also use a CO2 blower to remove some or fan it.

#15 bluesteel

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Posted 02 November 2013 - 08:32 PM

Christmas tree bulbs! That might help keep dew off the paper to boot if I can still find the large incandescent varieties.
kenrenard, I might just have to acquire that headlamp for the time being until I finalize my plans and actually build myself an observing chair with table for sketching.
knuklhdastnmr, that white on black is working pretty well from viewing your previous sketches you posted here!






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