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
n "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.