Grafix Dura-Lar Matte film is the surface that I love to use with graphite and colored pencil. If you are interested in trying it, you can find it online, at your local art supply or drafting supply store. The add states, "it is the acetate alternative. It combines the best features of Mylar® and acetate". You can see a tablet here at Dick Blick. It's smooth surface is great for getting the details I need in my miniature work. It's easy to erase, although, you do have to be careful when erasing. If you over work a spot, it may become too smooth and no longer accept the graphite or colored pencil. You can also work on both sides of the surface or use different colored papers as backing for different effects. One thing I have found is you have to be careful not to scratch the surface. I have had my fingernails leave small scratches all over the surface but I couldn't see them until I penciled over the area and the white lines and squiggles showed up. You could use that at as advantage by scoring the area for effect. There are so many possibilities and if you love to draw, it's worth trying.
Because of it's translucence it's easy to transfer your drawing. Under the film, you can see the photograph that I am using for a reference for the light source and one of my miniature works which I enlarged to use as a guide for a new image. (I've not posted that miniature work yet). I have done two different drawings of trees with a crow and wanted to explore that subject again. Sometimes I will use a subject or the same work as I have done here, as a starting point to take an idea further. I may do it in a different medium, or perhaps a different size. I don't think I could redo a work exactly the same way! This time the image I had in mind was for a local competition with a theme of "The Spirit of Giving".
Above are two reference photos of the tree and door that I am using.
The work is fairly advanced here, but you can see how I've used a variety of lines and then building up light strokes to create a good range of values. I use different pencils, mechanical 0.5mm and 0.3mm, as well as regular drawing pencils in different ranges of hard and soft, depending on what I'm trying to do.
A close -up of the doors showing where I've lifted up some of the graphite. To do this, I use a sticky putty which used to be called Hold It, but now I think it's under other names. I think it's called Blue Tack in the UK. It a very useful product around the house.
Some work done on the background.
Work on the area under the door.
A close-up of the area under the door.
Grasses in the front.
Darkening of the tree.
The crow has been added and the front tree finished. Here is where I decided that something just didn't look right to me. It was time to take a good look to see what was wrong. I took it downstairs to look at it in a different light and decided it was too dark. I got a second opinion and sure enough, the doors were difficult to distinguish from the surrounding area. It lost the impact that I was looking for! There were also a lot of the white scratches in places that bothered me as well, could it be my nails? So I decided that I wanted to start over! I figured it would be easier the next go since I already had things worked out. It was just the timing that was going to be difficult! I cut my nails, got a fresh sheet of film and got busy!
This is the reworked piece. Unfortunately, this is not a very good photo. It's been raining so there is less light in my studio. I'll be showing the scanned image later, but I think you get the idea. I used colored pencils on the other side of the film at the door and key. I liked the first crow I did better, this one looks too nice or not as mysterious. Maybe because he's happy this is finished? I think it turned out well and I hope the concept is clear. The title is The Offering, matted, it will be 7" x 7" small work. I had my webmaster scan and size it for the email submission last evening, Sunday the deadline, at 9:20pm. So I did make it, I got a conformation! YAY! The acceptance letters go out on the 20th of Nov, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed! I'll be posting links and show information after that date. Now, on to the next project! Ah, what's next? Could be the silverpoint I've been wanting to do, or I could start playing with some egg tempera? So many choices! Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read this.