Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
    Home - Chalk Drawings - Mechanical Drawing - Crayon Portraiture

Finishing Photographs In India Ink

The principles that have been given in regard to finishing photographs
with lines, apply also to finishing with India ink--with the exception
that in the manipulation of the ink it must be remembered that it
cannot be taken out; therefore, you must commence to finish the
photograph gradually, and produce the proper strength by repeatedly
working over it. The old method of making India ink portraits was to
have a print on "plain" paper--a kind without albumen on its surface.
The great disadvantage of "plain" paper is that the lights and shadows
on it are not strong, and therefore it takes too much work to finish
the picture.

The following method (which is very simple and can be used in work on
albumen paper, provided you have treated it by rubbing pumice stone
over its surface with your fingers), adapts it to India ink. Of course
the pumice stone treatment destroys the albumen on the surface, causing
it to have a dull appearance, but after the picture has been finished
its lustre can be restored by the use of a not too warm burnisher.

In finishing the photograph commence on the hair by washing it all
over (with the exception of the highest light) with a weak solution of
the ink, using the brush in the same direction that the hair goes;
after this has dried, indicate the half-shadow with a little stronger
wash, and after drying it again put in the deeper shadows, then the
eyebrows, eyes and beard, if the subject has one.

Faces are finished in India ink on the line principle,[D] which shows
the grain of the flesh. Commence on the forehead with a very weak
solution, and then continue it all over the face, repeatedly working
and cross hatching with lines until the face is dark enough; then
strengthen the shadows under the eyes, nose, mouth and chin. After the
face is completed put in the clothes. This you do by washing them over
with two or three solutions of the ink, and then producing the line
effect as in work on crayon portraits, explained on page 76, the
difference in the nature of the material used being always borne in
mind. After the picture is otherwise completed, you can brighten up the
eyes and some of the strongest shadows with a solution of gum arabic
and water.


While it is thought that all essential instructions on the topics
treated of have been given in the foregoing pages, and that if
faithfully followed they will lead the pupil to attain satisfactory
results, it is hoped that my readers who have accompanied me thus far
will not be content to continue to use a photograph as the basis of
their work, but will advance to the pursuit of art in a broader and
more scientific manner. As a step in this direction the study of form,
and light and shade, by drawing from the cast should be taken up; and
to this work the directions as to light and shade given in the
foregoing pages fully apply, that requiring the object to be placed in
such a position that the light will strike it at an angle of ninety
degrees being always borne in mind.

The student will do well to gain all he can from the published works of
the leaders in the profession, whose writings, both theoretical and
practical, are invaluable. Three essays by John Burnet I can very
heartily recommend. They are "Practical Hints on Light and Shade,"
"Practical Hints on Composition," and "The Education of the Eye." These
are published in a single volume, which is illustrated with examples
from the great masters of the Italian, Flemish and Dutch schools, and
should be in the hands of every amateur. They will all repay perusal
and study until their principles are mastered. An English edition of
these books is published by James Carpenter, London, and in this
country they have been reproduced by Edward L. Wilson, editor of the
Philadelphia Photographer. Another book which abounds in valuable and
practical information for the amateur and can be highly commended, is
"Art Recreations, a Guide to Decorative Art," by Marion Kemble,
published by S. W. Tilton & Co., Boston; also J. Bacon's "Theory of
Coloring," issued by Geo. Rowney & Co., England.

Those who are disposed to treat disdainfully the work of finishing
photographs in crayon and color as not demanding truly artistic
qualities, should not forget that success here has still a real value
in awakening in many who undertake it a feeling for art of a higher
kind, and in developing a natural talent which otherwise might have
been undiscovered. Many an artist now looks back with pleasure and
gratitude to this sort of work, in which he received the first impetus
toward higher effort.

In answer to the assertion which is sometimes made that transparent
water colors are not permanent, I claim that in the sense in which the
word is ordinarily used in connection with photography they may
properly be called so. In this sense the lasting qualities which
characterize the materials used by the old masters are not looked for,
but where photographs have been thus colored, finished in the form of
French crystals, and properly sealed from the atmosphere, they are
practically permanent. I have some in my possession that were made
years ago, and they are as bright and fresh to-day as when first
colored. It can be truly said that photographs colored in this way make
very beautiful and pleasing pictures, obtainable with but little work
and expense, and having practical permanency of color.

As a final word to those who intend to follow art as a profession, I
urge the earnest study and mastery of drawing at the outset as the
foundation of all art; then take up work in body water colors, and when
the theory of coloring is fully understood, do not neglect the careful
reading of books of acknowledged merit bearing on your work. The more
notes you take in the course of your reading the more fully you will
assimilate the author's thought, while, at the same time, you furnish
the easiest means of rapid review. After all, your soundest basis for
work will be your deep and continuing love for it, and your willingness
to labor long and conscientiously to attain excellence. Do not imagine
that the profession of an artist is that of an idler. On the contrary,
of all occupations it is perhaps the most active, for one is constantly
engaged, if not with art itself, at least with its materials.

Every artist will confess that were it not for the charm with which it
rewards the votaries who follow it from love, the pursuit would be a
painful one, such vigilant precaution does it require, such constant
foresight, such calculation and preparation against possible difficulty
on every hand; but the true artist, happy in the daily gain of
knowledge which his experience brings him, and delighted with the
gradual mastery of his work, as a rule lives along enjoyably, retaining
more than most men the freshness of youth while he gains in power as he
advances in years. So pleasant a fate as this for each of his readers
is the closing wish of the author.

Previous: Mounting French Crystals

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 2023