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Sketching M-27 Step-by-Step

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#1 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:37 AM

Last weekend I spent much of the evening sketching Messier 27, the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula and associated objects. In this thread I'll demonstrate the composition of my M-27 sketch in fifteen steps.

Materials used include a mechanical pencil with #2 lead (5mm), black ink, and three blending stumps.

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#2 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:38 AM

Step One: Anchor the sketch with bright field stars. Positions are plotted from Millennium Star Atlas data.

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#3 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:38 AM

Step Two: Place nebula. This was done with my finger-tip rubbed in a blot of graphite. This glow will be the foundation of my sketch of M-27.

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#4 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:39 AM

Step Three: After scrutinizing the planetary nebula in the eyepiece for 15-20 minutes, the basic hourglass shape is rendered with a moderately sized blending stump (8946B). This step roughs in the large-scale structure of the nebula.

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#5 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:40 AM

Step Four: A smaller blending stump (8943B) is used to add smaller details. It is also used to deepen the shade of brighter areas.

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#6 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:40 AM

Step Five: A very small blending stump (8941B) is used to add delicate filamentary details. Enhancement of bright areas continues as well.

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#7 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:41 AM

Step Six: Fine details are subtly blended into the overall structure of the hourglass. Additional details incorporated after another long look in the eyepiece.

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#8 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:42 AM

Step Seven: Additional field stars are added, including the central star and a fairly bright star embedded in the SW edge.

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#9 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:44 AM

Step Eight: Additional faint field stars (including a few additional stars involved with the nebulosity) are added to complete the sketch.

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#10 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:44 AM

Step Nine: After scanning, the image is brightened slightly to eliminate scanning artifacts. A delicate balance must be observed here; it may be noted that I did not eliminate all of the stray specks and streaks, but I observed that further brightening began to seriously degrade the nebulosity.

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#11 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:45 AM

Step Ten: The sketch is darkened slightly (by 10%). This will simulate the skyglow once the image is inverted.

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#12 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:46 AM

Step Eleven: A white mat is applied to the sketch.

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#13 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:47 AM

Step Twelve: The sketch is inverted.

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#14 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:48 AM

Step Thirteen: The nebulosity is smoothed out and slightly brightened with the 'airbrush' set on pale gray at 90% transparency (10% opacity). This restores some of the clipped shadows and provides a smoother texture to the image.

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#15 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:49 AM

Step Fourteen: Star images are cleaned up, reducing their size and eliminating their irregular shapes (mostly).

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#16 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 09:50 AM

Step Fifteen: A pale greenish tint is added to the nebula, and tints applied to field stars that I noticed color in. The sketch is now finished.

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#17 kraterkid

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 10:10 AM

Eric this is a wonderful step by step tutorial you've created! :jump: The end result is astonishing and sublime! :bow: :waytogo: Thank you for spending the time and effort to put this together for us. :thanx:

#18 atoptics

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 11:02 AM

Eric that's an excellent and very useful description. Thanks. Les

#19 Jeremy Perez

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 11:05 AM

Excellent tutorial! Thanks for putting it together for us. I didn't realize (or maybe I forgot) that you use multiple size blending stumps, working down to finer points as you go. Beautiful rendering of M27 also!

#20 rodelaet

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 03:36 PM

A mighty sketch, Eric !!! :bow:
And of course (one would forget) an excellent observation.

Thank you for sharing this.

I admire your technique.

I find your process very understandable, except for step 14. IMO Step 14 is a giant leap forward in quality of the sketch. What is your technique for cleaning up the star images?

Clear skies,

#21 cildarith

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 04:29 PM

Thanks guys, I hope the sequence is useful.

Rony, step 14 is new to me as well. Jeremy demonstrates this in his latest tutorial particularly Step 3, Figures 3-6. I find the process very time consuming, but like you said it makes the overall sketch much, much better, and so worth the extra effort.

Here is a compressed version to the sketching steps 1-8, and the final product, 15:

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#22 desertstars

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 05:45 PM

Great stuff, and extremely useful.

I'd pin it to the top, but the last time I did that (Jeremy's work) people stopped posting in the thread! :shocked:

#23 CarlosEH

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 02:29 AM

Eric,

Thank you for providing us all with a wonderful tutorial on your observation of the Dumbbell Nebula (M27). This tutorial combines your artistic technique along with processing tricks. Your effort is appreciated by us all!

Carlos

#24 FJA

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 05:54 AM

Yes, indeed. Thanks Eric, much appreciated. :waytogo:

#25 Erix

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Posted 01 September 2006 - 02:17 PM

Perfect, Eric! Thank you very much for doing this for us. I have added it to the sticky thread so it will be handy for future reference.






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