Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is so)

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avajarvis
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Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is so)

Post by avajarvis » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:56 pm

So I've experimented with non-photo blue pencils and leads in the past, but I ended up having to agree with John Muir Laws that the only non-photo blue pencil that does what it's supposed to is the Prismacolor Col-Erase non-photo blue. All others are strangely inferior in that they can be photographed very easily and have to be removed via Photoshop. But this particular pencil just doesn't photograph.

A little plate of sushi I drew over the past two days, I did not erase any of the very loose block-in sketch:

Image

And in fact, I can barely photograph the pencil markings. If you have any good, or even mediocre, lighting at all for your camera, it just doesn't show up. Here's an attempt under bad lighting:
suchi-blue-pencil-barely-500.jpg
suchi-blue-pencil-barely-500.jpg (103.28KiB)Viewed 6276 times
I can actually see the pencils just fine in real life, especially under good lighting... before I draw on it. After I draw on it, I can't see it much at all, even where the inks don't overlay the pencils. I have to get up really close to the paper and squint quite hard.

So if anyone else is like me and likes very loose block-in lines and not an under-sketch, this is incredibly useful? If you do a more full undersketch with details, this is not the best tool for that.

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Rebecca » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:16 pm

avajarvis wrote:...if anyone else is like me and likes very loose block-in lines and not an under-sketch, this is incredibly useful? If you do a more full undersketch with details, this is not the best tool for that.
If you're wondering whether others find no photo blue incredibly useful for loose block-in, I would say yes -- however detailed setup worked quite well for me back when I did illustration for reprographic cameras and copy machines. If the reproduction of analog art is the only product ever to be viewed, no-photo blue is a smart tool. I personally find the blue pencil underdrawing unattractive in the original art, so I never use it when the end product is ever or also the original. Could you be having trouble with the waxy prismacolor mark resisting ink? Or, does the blue pencil dull so quickly, you can't keep detail in play? If either of those are what's happening, I can understand why loose block-in is the only viable option. Why is detailed setup not a good option with this pencil?
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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by avajarvis » Sun Sep 16, 2018 6:31 pm

I don't have any issues with inking over the pencils; the marks made are just so incredibly light that it's easy to lose sight of very small details. They're the lightest of any NP blue pencil I've ever seen, hence why I prefer to use it. It's pretty much invisible post-inking.

If someone had extremely good eyesight with incredible contact detection, I suppose they could use this pencil for details.

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Rebecca » Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:28 pm

Huh, okay. Ramble... Considering the way reproduction and display have changed over recent years, the issues you are dealing with are quite different from those I dealt with a couple decades ago. Taking into account how digital imaging (especially compression) now takes advantage of our native lack of sensitivity to blue compared to greater sensitivity to red and green, so blue chrominance data is sacrificed more than red and green, and then thinking again how human color sensitivity to blue is not great -- I can see how on white paper, pale blue might appear to disappear when side by side with high contrast black. Non-photo blues were originally designed for film and carbon "ink" copier machines. Those non-photo blue mixtures which lean to red or green will register on red and green maps.

Now I'm going to reveal my bias. Every now and then I feel compelled to say something that might not go over well. This might be one of those occasions...
Seeing blue pencil construction lines with black and white drawings (where blue is the only color present) makes me think:

"Illustration. This was made for the copy board. What job was this for? Where was this to be published? Wait, there are things going on that indicate this was never meant to be copied. Why is this an aesthetic choice? Did this artist learn from an illustrator but didn't learn how there is necessary to use and unnecessary to use? Was there a chain of teachers who somewhere back in time dropped the original purpose of blue lines, but continued to recommend them? Was this artist once an illustrator who never made the transition to non-illustrator? This is a remnant of a technical, not aesthetic process. Why am I using up my energy pondering this mismatch of use?"

And it goes on from there. To my eye, blue construction lines under graphite pencil and/or black ink on white paper don't help the black and white or gray scale aesthetic. It disrupts the purity of monotone to have a blue under drawing as part of the final art. That said, I generally "see" more than other people do, so I can understand how this might sound outrageously picky. Of course, if I don't see the blue lines, I don't go through the thoughts I just outlined.
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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by avajarvis » Sun Sep 16, 2018 8:54 pm

That's really good context to have! Thank you.

It makes sense vis a vis to wonder at blue lines that distract from crisp black inks. I don't think this is a bad bias at all, which is why I strive to get a blue pencil that doesn't show up to the eye very well. Also, I will say that the reason for blue for undersketches has been very thoroughly lost in at least online teachings, and perhaps recent academic ones as well. If you ever watch digital artists do a layer of block-in, they always use blue, and if you ask why blue and not gray or purple or magenta even, they won't tell you any reason that makes sense.

And anyways, I think most people agree with your bias? I certainly do, if I can see the blue lines. Hence why I kind of wanted a blue pencil that doesn't show up well.

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Rebecca » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:28 pm

avajarvis wrote:I think most people agree with your bias? I certainly do, if I can see the blue lines. Hence why I kind of wanted a blue pencil that doesn't show up well.
So I have to ask.. Why would you tolerate blue when it shows up at all, even if not well?
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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by avajarvis » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:56 pm

Faint ghosts of blue lines don't bother me. Very clear blue lines would.

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Rebecca » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:31 pm

avajarvis wrote:Faint ghosts of blue lines don't bother me. Very clear blue lines would.
That's an answer.
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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by mdmattin » Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:29 pm

When I combine pencil block in with pen and ink, I just use a regular mechanical pencil very lightly, draw over it, and then erase the pencil after the ink is dry. That's what I did for the bike mishap sketch. For on the spot sketches I just have at it with the pen. Way back in the analog reproduction days we would use non-repro blue because it wouldn't be picked up by the chemical photo reproduction process. There was a whole world of non-repro layout grids and other graphic arts products based on that technology. It's interesting that the use of non-repro blue has skeuomorphically persisted in digital art, where you can just put your underdrawing on a separate layer and then turn it off.
I do enjoy seeing the original mechanicals of illustrators and comic artists on exhibit, and the artifacts of paste-up, white-out, and markup have their own aesthetic. I imagine there are people creating stuff now with that retro look as an art form in itself.
A fellow I draw with uses a red pencil to build the construction lines and draws over them in black or blue, but in his case the colored construction drawing is boldly included in the final design.

Matthew

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Alitogata » Thu Oct 04, 2018 1:17 am

avajarvis wrote:Faint ghosts of blue lines don't bother me. Very clear blue lines would.
Why do you bother with blue pencils when there are hard graphite pencils. For some unknown to me reason most people don't use hard graphite pencils. The F or H pencils give very light gray lines that you can then ink over them. They are so light that it is hard most of the times to photograph or scan them.
The trick though with the hard pencils is not to sharpen the lead in order not to scratch your paper. You have to remove with a kraft knife the wood but it is better not to sharpen the lead at all.
This way. This is an F one.
DSC04313.JPG
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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by avajarvis » Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:10 am

I don't use graphite pencils because the dust bothers my lungs, and I can't handle a knife due to trauma related to knives. I am not a silly person in this respect.

I'm sorry I ever brought this topic up. It was unwise of me to do so, and I think I really should just not be on forums.

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Alitogata » Thu Oct 04, 2018 6:52 am

avajarvis wrote:I don't use graphite pencils because the dust bothers my lungs, and I can't handle a knife due to trauma related to knives. I am not a silly person in this respect.

I'm sorry I ever brought this topic up. It was unwise of me to do so, and I think I really should just not be on forums.
What dust? :?:
I think that I might didn't make my self clear. I spoke about graphite pencils and not graphite powder. Hard graphite pencils don't leave behind any dust . The contrary happens, they leave very thin and hardly visible gray lines that you can ink them over.

I didn't say that it was wrong to bring this topic up but I was impressed that you were looking for a non photo blue pencil when hard graphite pencils do the same job and even better.
All architectural drawings are done first with very hard pencils and then are inked over. On the copies or scans of such drawings is impossible to detect the graphite lines. :)

As for the craft knives .. if you are afraid of them you can use a graphite lead holder that you can fill it with whatever hardness of graphite lead you like. As I said for illustration or drawing purposes it is better not to sharpen the leads.

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Andre Jute » Thu Oct 04, 2018 3:00 pm

Alitogata wrote: As for the craft knives .. if you are afraid of them you can use a graphite lead holder that you can fill it with whatever hardness of graphite lead you like. As I said for illustration or drawing purposes it is better not to sharpen the leads.
Softer leads leave a darker line, cause less eyestrain, and rub out easier. I keep 2B leads in almost all my mechanical pencils, and softer in some.

I keep sharpeners for all the leads from 5.6mm down to 2mm, but I don't even have a sandpaper pad in the pencil kit that I use most often. A 2mm pencil is really handy because it can be sharpened to a fine point, yet is wide enough for fast shading.

However, as Rebecca pointed out not too long ago, in the thinner mechanical leads the idea is to keep the line the same width throughout mainly because these pencils are intended for students or technical use, so there is no need for a sharpener. For light lines you just choose a thinner pencil (I have a very nice Pentel Orenz that takes 0.2mm leads and protects these fragile leads with a sliding sleeve) or you can sharpen the lead in my Pilot Automac (a pencil such a pleasure to use, very ergonomic, and automatic, no button punching, that it often takes a turn in the pen-loop of my daybook to be picked up whenever I made a note) or Platinum OLEenU Shield (a brilliant pencil for less than a fiver landed in your postbox, the artist's choice for its ease of blending) on a sandpaper pad or the margin of your drawing. I have an 0.3 pencil too, the Mitsubishi Uno Kuru Toga Advance, but that spins the lead every time you release pressure on the tip of the pencil, and the dedicated leads are made differently from the normal kind so that the rotation guarantees a line thinner than 0.3mm but very consistent in width. I keep the Advance near me for its technical interest but rarely pick it up because all my other lead holders are more pleasing for an artist's work. Another technically interesting pencil I bought is the Zebra Delguard but I gave it to my wife to fill in crosswords because it just isn't right for an artist. If you've read this far, and you're thinking of buying a mechanical pencil, the Platinim OLEenU Shield -- make sure you get the Shield version and don't be misled by the more expensive and prettier versions without the shield -- is the best for freehand drawing, though it is only available in 0.5mm; it's a pencil with which you can draw fast at almost any angle, and it protects the lead from breaking, and it blends beautifully in either graphite or 0.5mm colored leads. All these pencils (except the Automac which is a very solid, technically advanced piece and worth the 20 dollars or so you can find them for) are available in plastic for a handful of dollars, and even the metal ones I bought where available are all under 10 dollars landed here, off Ebay or from Rakuten (I bought most of mine from A-N Nagasaki on Rakuten).

Warning: Don't buy the so-called 5.6mm leadholders on Aliexpress, no matter how cheap they seem: the best quality Koh-i-Noor and Cretacolor, generally available, 5.6 leads don't fit them. The Chinese holders are rubbish, maybe 5.5mm -- good luck getting 5.5mm leads.

Andre Jute

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by mdmattin » Thu Oct 04, 2018 5:11 pm

Dear Ava,
I hope you stay on this forum. You raise interesting topics and I really like your artwork.

Matthew

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Re: Hooray for the non-photo blue pencil (that actually is s

Post by Alitogata » Thu Oct 04, 2018 8:00 pm

Andre Jute wrote: Softer leads leave a darker line, cause less eyestrain, and rub out easier. I keep 2B leads in almost all my mechanical pencils, and softer in some.

[...]
They leave a darker line but also more graphite that you have then to remove somehow if you want either to ink or use watercolours over your drawing.
The harder leads on the other hand don't need erasing, don't make smudges on the paper and you don't have to bother to hide them, because they disappear under ink and watercolour.
The only downside of the harder leads is that if you have sharpened them, they might scratch your paper but this is solved by not sharpen them at all. The width of the line is not that much of a problem with hard leads because they are hard and they never rub that much on the paper in order for the lines to become extremely wide. And they last literally for ever.
I have two pencils one F and one H and a mechanical 2mm pencil that I still use it with some H leads that I bought -guess when- 30 years ago! :lol: And still go -literally- strong.

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