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Drawing Materials


The return of representational images to contemporary artwork has stimulated an unparalleled interest in all types of drawing materials. In an effort to profit from this resurgence, several manufacturers have developed new materials for drawing. Some of the effects that can be created with these products have resulted in a blurring of the boundary between painting and drawing. Yet, the gen­eral principles remain the same whether the drawing material is in a form that is dry, waxy, or wet.

Dry drawing materials, such as charcoal, depend entirely on the texture of the ground. Their overall appearance is reflected by the pattern, or lack of it, that is present in the surface texture. Bits of drawing material are rubbed off, just as sandpaper scrapes off bits  of wood, and are trapped within the surface and held there. These collected bits of dry drawing material can be brushed off easily if they are not fixed with a gum or resin. Waxy drawing materials, like crayons and oil  pastels,  are not so easily  brushed off because of the wax binder.  Wet drawing  materials  often  have the advantage  of a resin binder and the ability  to soak into a surface.  But  whether  wet,  waxy, or dry, all drawing materials depend on the nature of the surface for their overall appearance. It is this fact that has led many artists to study, often for months and sometimes for years, various grounds and their finishes in a effort to find the one that best reflects their vision.


Dry Drawing materials are either carbon-based or  chalk-based.  Although  the use of both types dates back to prehistoric times, carbon-based drawing material, and particularly charcoal, is credited with being older because it was common to every fireplace, whereas deposits of pure chalk are quite rare.

A dry drawing material can be easily applied to any surface as long as the  surface has some tooth to bite and hold its powdery consistency. It can also be easily blended or erased. Blending can be done by rubbing or by wetting the drawing with either water or turpentine. At one time,  a technique  was developed of dipping the dry drawing material first in a drying oil, such as linseed oil, to create a darker line and improve adhesion. However, this tends to form a yellow stain around the edges of the applied drawing material and to acidify and rot the paper. The primary disadvantage of dry drawing materials is the difficulty of storing and protecting the final drawing. The use of a fixative  will  help,  but it  will not completely protect the surface.  Protective  coatings  and picture framing  in combination provide the only long-term protection.


There are two forms in which carbon is commonly found in nature: crystalline and amorphous. The crystalline form has two further divisions.  One type of crystal involves six carbon atoms,  which  combine to form  a ring. Carbon  rings  of this type tend to arrange themselves in sheets, which slide easily over one another. They are so slippery that this crystalline form is often used  as a lubricant. When the first natural deposits of carbon were uncovered they  were mis­taken for lead and named plumbago, or black lead. After many years of use as a drawing material, it was discovered that the substance was not lead  and  the name was changed to graphite, from the Greek word graphene, which means "to write."

In the second form of crystalline carbon, the carbon  atoms link  together to from a rigid structure. This structure results in a highly transparent and very hard crystal, which cannot be used as a drawing material. This type of crystal is a diamond.

There are four kinds of amorphous carbon--charcoal, lampblack, coal, and coke. Charcoal is an impure form of carbon and is obtained through the incomplete combustion of plant  matter,  wood,  or bone.  Lampblack  is obtained by collecting the soot from the burning of oil. Coal and coke are mined  and  are not workable as artists' materials. Carbon black is a term used to describe any intense black made from amorphous carbon that has been divided into fine particles. Soot has some of the most finely divided particles known. The smallness of these particles is what gives such subtlety to the ink paintings of the Orient. The particle size can be varied during production to create various effects. Another interesting fact is that charcoal can be turned into graphite at 5400°F.

Charcoal is the carbon-rich residue of incompletely  burned  wood,  bone,  or vegetable matter. Artists' charcoal is made by heating wood in a chamber or kiln without  air.  This  process  produces  a  piece of charcoal that  makes  a  uniform black line.

Vine Charcoal is produced by burning sticks or twigs of wood in a kiln without air. Some manufacturers shape them to produce sticks of a more uniform appearance. Willow is the wood of choice, because of its even consistency and fineness of particles; however, linden is more commonly used. Vine charcoal is available in soft, medium, and hard consistencies.

Vine charcoal is easily removed by dusting and  by erasure. This  makes  it  ideal for preliminary  sketches  for  oil  painting  where  changes  are  frequently  made before the final outline is completed.  Before painting  begins,  however,  the char­coal sketch must be fixed to the canvas or the paint will pull the charcoal off  the  surface and mix with it. It is best to use a retouch varnish to fix the sketch.

Compressed Charcoal is available in round and square sticks. The charcoal powder is mixed with a gum binder and compressed into sticks. The amount of binder that is used regulates the degree of hardness, which gives a wider selec­tion and greater consistency of quality from stick to stick. Several degrees of hardness-HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and sometimes 6B-are available. Sticks of compressed charcoal do not break or erase as easily as vine charcoal. Vine char­ coal has an irregular shape that does not allow the edge to be used for broad strokes, but compressed charcoal sticks are ideal for this.

Charcoal Pencils are made from compressed charcoal. The charcoal is protected with wood, or a paper wrapping, which  is the only real advantage of the  pencils. The covering helps  to keep  your hands and your working  environment clean while drawing: it also reduces breakage and permits by  sharpening to produce at point. In the paper-wrapped version, the charcoal is exposed by peeling rather than by sharpening. e  pencils  are  available  in  the  same  general  range  of degrees of hardness  found  in  compressed  charcoal sticks, and are classified as extra soft (96B), soft (4B), medium (2B), and hard (HB). They are best used for making  smaller, more tightly rendered   drawings, which require  greater control, or for adding detail.

Carbon Pencils are made from lampblack, which is purer than charcoal and is therefore more consistent in quality. This consistency is maintained throughout the available range of degrees of hardness, which is generally identical to that of compressed charcoal.

Graphite was used as a marking tool  by the Aztecs long before Columbus  went on his Caribbean cruise. Europe did not discover  graphite  until 1400,  when  it was found in Bavaria and promptly mistaken for lead. The substance was not  called graphite until 1789. The purest deposits of graphite ever found were dis­covered in Cumberland, England, in 1564 and were in continuous production until 1833.

The advantage of graphite over charcoal is that it is less dusty and naturally adheres better to a ground. It can easily be fashioned into a variety of writing and drawing instruments, which can be used to express great detail and subtlety. Graphite is also more easily fixed to a ground and in general has a more durable surface.

Graphite Sticks are relatively new. Originally, graphite was sold in pieces for marking stone. Later it was shaped into sticks, which resembled today's artists' graphite sticks. Today's sticks, however, are not pure graphite, but mixtures of powdered graphite and clay, which  has been fired  at about 1900°F.  The amount  of clay present determines the degree of hardness; the more clay, the harder the stick. A narrow range-2B, 4B, 6B--comprises the available degrees.

The Pentalic Corporation has imported a graphite stick that has a heavy resin coating. It is called the Woodless Pencil and is ¼-inch round, as opposed to the rectangular graphite stick. The Woodless Pencil is available  in  HB,  as well  as 2B, 4B, and 6B, and can  be sharpened easily in an ordinary pencil  sharpener.  Of course, the edges cannot be used for broad strokes, as can the edge of the uncoated rectangular stick.

Dry Drawing Materials

Graphite Pencils

Graphite Pencil were blocks of graphite that were shaped into sticks and wrapped with string. Since graphite was at first mistaken for lead, they were called lead pencils. Soon after the discovery of the graphite deposits in England, it became clear that the amount of available graphite was limited and conservation measures rapidly followed. Several attempts to extend powdered graphite with gums, resins, and glues, which were pressed into blocks of grooved wood, had only limited success.

The invention of the modem pencil has been  credited to  Nicolas-Jacques Conte, a French scientist under the commission of Napoleon. In 1795, he devel­oped a manufacturing process of roasting a mixture of clay, purified  graphite, and water in a kiln, and then encasing the substance in wood. Soon after, Joseph Hardmuth found that the greater the amount of clay used in  the  mixture,  the harder the pencil point. This led to the development of the various degree of hardness of pencils.  The modem  process for making  pencils involves  producing  a paste, like that of Nicolas-Jacques Conte, and partially drying it through filtra­tion. It is then extruded into long strands and fired at 1900°F. The strands, which are still slightly porous, are then filled with natural waxes for the purpose of lubrication and to help the graphite adhere to the ground. They are either pack­ aged for use in a lead holder or inserted into a wood casing.

Today, graphite pencils are made in different degrees of hardness  by regulat­ing the amount of clay added. The greater the quantity of clay, the harder the lead and the lighter the overall drawn line will appear. It is common  to  have several different degrees of pencils to vary the detail and the light and dark areas  of a drawing. The more "Hs,"  the harder the lead.  The more  "Bs," the softer the lead. HB and F are intermediate grades  between the two types. B  through 10H are commonly used in drafting. 8B through F are preferred for artwork. Writing pencils have their own hardness scale, which  roughly  coincides at cer­tain points with the drafting scale.




8B. . .4B-3B-2B-B-HB-F-H-2H-3H-4H-5H. . . IOH

<<<softer<<<          >>>harder>>>






* degree within parentheses is the rough equivalent to the drafting scale

The primary differences between school-grade pencils and professional-grade pencils are the larger range of degrees and the uniformity in the  manufacturing  and performance of the professional-grade pencils.

There are several unique graphite pencils such as the Blackwing, which has an oversized eraser; the Negro Pencil,  available in  three thicknesses  of  leads; and the Eagle #314 Droughting Pencil. All of these are soft drawing pencils that are similar to a 6B art pencil. Most have slightly thicker leads than  the  average drafting pencil, yet are less expensive. Flat sketching pencils have a rectangular­ shaped lead enclosed in a similarly shaped wood covering,  which is sharpened  with a razor or a knife. They come in a limited  range of  degrees-2B, 4B, and 6B. All of these graphite pencils are used primarily for broader, more expressive drawing or for quick sketching.

Drafting Leads and Metal Lead Holders were developed before the wood graphite pencil. The lead, which is the same as that  used  to  make  graphite pencils, is held in place with a three-to four part vise. A button at the top of the lead holder, which acts like a clutch, is pressed to open the vise and release the  lead. Caution must be exercised to prevent the lead  from  falling  out  of  the holder. A test of the quality of a lead holder is to see if  the  lead  slips  in the  clutch when it is locked in place. The primary advantage of  a lead  holder is that the implement does not get shorter as you sharpen the lead, and a sharper, more tapered point can be produced with the aid of a lead  pointer than can  be had with a pencil and pencil sharpener.

Drafting Lead

is available in the same degrees  of  hardness  as  pencils.  There are also limited selections of colored lead available, as well as leads designed specifically for the surface of drafting film. The "E" series of drafting-film leads produces well-defined lines and less graphite dust on the drafting film.were first introduced in 1822 by S. Mordan and  J. I. Hawkins. The first spring-loaded mechanical pencil was patented in 1877 and a twist-feed mechanism was developed in 1895. The primary differences between mechanical pencils and lead holders is that the  mechanical-pencil  lead  is advanced in increments and will not accidentally drop out, and the lead does not have to be sharpened. Since a vise is not used  to  hold  the  lead, it is free to rotate as a line is drawn so that a consistent line width is  produced.  Conse­quently, the lead is available in four widths-0.03mm, 0.05mm, 0.07mm, and 0.09mm. The 0.09mm was introduced in 1938 and led the way for the rest. Today, mechanical pencils are designed  to be self-feeding  and several leads can  be loaded through the top at one time. The technology has advanced so that there are mechanical pencils that automatically advance the lead as it is  worn down, eliminating even the need to stop and make adjustments. These are expensive, however, and are not widely available.

The major disadvantage of mechanical pencils that use very thin leads is that the leads break easily. The softer the lead, the more easily it breaks. Some  manufacturers impregnate their leads with a polymer to make them less break­ able. But only a narrow range of degrees-from 4H to 2B-is available.


is composed of tiny, prehistoric, salt-water organisms with a high calcium content, which formed a sediment that turned rocklike. Its appearance ranges from white to gray and, occasionally, red, or sanguine, when  it is natu­rally impregnated with ferric oxide (rust). Chalk-based drawing materials have  been in use almost as long as carbon-based materials. Although chalk itself is abundant, the number of deposits of rock chalk is not, and it is this scarcity that prevented its widespread use. Until the fifteenth century, red and  white  chalks were used primarily for quick sketching. When an effective  method  was devised to pulverize chalk, wash out the sand, and combine the chalk powder with pig­ments in a usable form, chalk-based drawing  materials  were  taken  more seriously.

In the sixteenth century, the Italians developed the pastel. It had a narrow range of colors consisting of some earth colors,  white, and black. It was not until the introduction of a broad range of synthetic mineral pigments in the nine-teenth century that the color range broadened to the hundreds of colors  and  shades that we are familiar with today. Pastello, which means "little paste" in Italian, was shortened by the French to "pastel." Today, pastel  is  the common name for chalk-based drawing materials; the chalk is mixed with pigment and a binder to a paste and then shaped and dried into sticks. Modem  pastels may contain chalk, or such chalklike materials as kaolin (white clay) or lithopone (half barium sulfate and half zinc sulfide) as the white filler. The filler is mixed with a pigment and a binder such as gum tragacanth or methyl cellulose. (The binder for oil pastels is primarily wax and is discussed later under that heading.) Pastels can be used either  as a drawing  or a  painting  material, depending on the technique used. It is therefore common to find  works called pastel paintings, as well as pastel drawings. Pastels  lend  themselves  to blending  with the fingers or with stomps. They may also give a more  painterly appearance when wetted with a mist of water (however, this technique cannot be used on glue-sized canvas) or with turpentine. A more or less painterly  appearance  can  be effected by the type of ground used (paper or canvas), its surface finish (laid or irreg­ular), and color. The main advantage of pastels is that the appearance does not change with age, as do oil paintings, which yellow in time. The main disadvantage is that the surface is easily damaged and is difficult to protect. The use of fixatives and final protective sprays will provide limited protection, but these tend to darken the overall appearance of pastels.  

It is important to take note of the health hazards that are involved in using pastels. Although most manufacturers have stopped using some of the most haz­ardous pigments, such as lead and lead compounds, professional artists' pastels should not be considered safe. Precautions should be taken to prevent inhalation  and accidental ingestion of dusts. (See Hazards for more information.)

Soft Pastels are soft because they are low in chalk or chalk substitute and are primarily pigment with very little binder. Chalk has a cementing  quality  that is used to best advantage in the manufacture of hard pastels. Most manufacturers of artists' soft pastels use a substitute for white chalk, such as kaolin, lithopone, or titanium dioxide, as the base. This facilitates easy blending  and  results  in  stronger colors.

Every manufacturer of  pastels begins  with a set of colors that it considers to  be pure and then creates additional colors, or tints, by adding a specific percent­ age of white (kaolin, lithopone, or titanium dioxide) or black (carbon). Manufac­turers each have their own recipes for creating the colors and  tints they offer, as well as their own symbols for indicating which are  the  basic  colors  and  their tints. Talens Company, for example, the manufacturer of  Rembrandt  Pastels, adds decimal points to its color reference numbers to signify the percentage of white or black. Of its one hundred and sixty-three colors, thirty-eight are pure colors, indicated by a three-digit number followed by a decimal point and the number 5. The number 205.5, for example, indicates  the  pure  color  lemon yellow. Thirty-six of the colors are mixed  with a  percentage  of  black and  they are indicated by a three-digit number followed by a  decimal  point  and  the number 3. (For example, 205.3 is lemon yellow mixed  with  black.) The remain­ing eighty-nine colors are pure colors mixed with  white,  indicated  in  the same way by following the color number and decimal with either a 7,  8, or 9. The higher the number, the more white. (For example, 205.9  the palest tint of lemon yellow. Soft pastels cannot be blended on the palette, like paint, to create additional colors or tints. Virtuosity of color in pastel drawings is restricted by the available colors and the ability to blend them on the working surface. Since pastels are an opaque medium, they are difficult to blend and it is hard to  get  intermediate shades. Therefore, if  you think  you  will need  a particular  color or tint, it is best to acquire it before proceeding. I recommend that you purchase the largest set of pastels that you can find and afford, and continue to build your color range whenever practical. The greater your choices of pastels, the greater your free­dom. To accommodate this freedom, some manufacturers make up  to six  hun­dred colors.

Chalk Pastels are harder than soft pastels because of the higher percentage of chalk. They are also less expensive because they contain less pigment. Not all of the commonly available chalk pastels are of artists' quality, they give  no assurance of lightfastness; they are therefore  not recommended.  The color range is often quite limited, ranging from thirty-six to forty-eight colors.

Hard Pastels

are harder than soft pastels and the average chalk  pastel.  At this time, however, there is only one effectively marketed  hard  pastel-Nupastel made by Eberhardt Faber Company. Although Nupastel is technically a chalk pastel, it is far denser than the average chalk pastel.  Its primary advantage  is that  it is better for drawing thin lines and for holding details. Hard pastels can be sharpened to some degree, while soft pastels  cannot.  They  are  also less  dusty and adhere better to the working surface, but this  characteristic  makes  them harder to blend. Nupastel offers an acceptable range of seventy-two colors. This pastel is commonly used as artists' pastel,  although  the  company's  literature makes no claims of lightfastness.

Pastel Pencils are chalk pastels with a wood covering. They are also known as colored charcoal pencils because their consistency resembles that of charcoal pencils. The advantages of the pencil form of  pastel  is that it can  be sharpened  for more detailed drawing and it is less messy to work with. Pastel pencils were originally developed for the graphic artist and illustrator. As with chalk pastels, claims to lightfastness are rarely found. The available range  is  between  forty­ eight and seventy-two colors, depending on the manufacturer.

Conte Crayons are named after their developer, Nicolas-Jacques Conte, who invented the modem pencil. They were originally a mixture of graphite and clay formed into hard drawing sticks. The process Conte  used  was  similar  to  that used for his pencils. Today, Conte crayons are made with an alumina chalk (aluminum oxide) base. Because they are readily available in differing degrees of hardness, a range of effects can be  consistently  produced  with  these  crayons. The white crayons are pure alumina chalk; the blacks and grays are carbon and alumina  chalk.  The  reddish-browns,  or  sanguines,  are  ferric   oxide   (rust)   and alumina chalk. Several shades of sanguine are  widely  available  and  the  black and white are available in different degrees of hardness. Conte crayons have the consistency of graphite sticks and the appearance  of hard pastels.


Waxy Drawing materials are relatively modern and differ from dry materials in two fundamental ways--they cannot be blended easily unless a solvent is used, and drawings done with materials have more durable surfaces. It is basically a trade-off-durability for blending.

The basic recipe for a waxy drawing material  is  to  mix  a coloring  material with a filler, then add a lubricant and a binder. The coloring  material,  or  pig­ment, may be water soluble or not, depending on whether the blending solvent is water or organic (mineral spirits or turpentine). The filler is usually clay or talc. The lubricant is a natural wax,  if  blending is to be done with an organic solvent,  or a fatty acid, if blending will be done with water. The binder may be fatty acid or wax, as well as gum tragacanth or methyl cellulose. The mixture  is blended and is not fired.

It is important to note that all drawings done with waxy drawing material must be fixed with a fixative or a final protective  coating.  This  prevents the tendency of wax to rise slowly to the surface of the drawing, giving a chalky, or milky, appearance.

Oil Pastels

Oil pastels are a cross between wax crayons and encaustic (wax) paint  in stick form. The amount of wax used in oil pastels varies considerably from brand to brand. With more wax, the pastel  is greasier  and less dusty,  and  is also  much  less subject to mechanical blending. Oil pastels were originally made by first mixing pigments into a solution consisting of  a slow drying oil,  such  as  poppy oil, and mastic resin dissolved in turpentine.  This  mixture  was then  given  body by the addition of wax so that it could be shaped into sticks. As the turpentine evaporated, the sticks hardened. This recipe produces a  high-quality oil pastel with a limited shelf life. Today, virtually all oil pastels are primarily made with pigment dissolved into a fossil wax. Some brands have a small amount of a nondrying oil, such as mineral oil, to improve the shelf life. Consistency varies greatly among brands and you should experiment to find the brand that best suits you. Oil pastels can be blended easily with a brush soaked  in  turpentine  or mineral. Several years ago, almost all the oil pastels on the American market were of poor quality and lightfastness, and were primarily designed for use by children. This was not because there were no professional artists' pastels manufactured, but because it was felt there was no market for them in this country. Today, several professional­ quality brands can be found. The Holbein Company offers two hundred and twenty­ five colors that are rated for lightfastness. They are less waxy and have a consis­tency closer to a soft pastel than most other brands. The Sennelier Company makes seventy-two colors, twenty-four of which are iridescent. They are also introducing a jumbo version, approximately I¼ inches in diameter and 3½ inches long,  in selected colors. These oil pastels contain a small amount of mineral oil, which increases shelf life and eases application; however, the drawing's surface does not harden for a long time and should not be painted over with oil paints or encaustic (wax) paint materials. Many manufacturers make both professional and nonprofes­sional oil pastels. The labeling is often unclear as to which is which, so you should ask before you make a selection.

Paint Sticks

Currently there are two types of paint sticks available pigment in wax and pigment in acrylic lacquer. The first type is just a giant oil pastel called a paint stick. Paintstiks, made by Markall for the Shiva Company, is a widely available brand of paint stick. It comes in twenty-seven conventional colors, six fluores­cent colors, which are not lightfast, white, black, gold, silver, and a colorless blender. There is a skin over  the surface  of  the stick  that has to be peeled  away or dissolved with thinner before use. The skin will re-form when not in use. Paintstiks work equally well as encaustic paint or as oversized  oil pastels. They dry to the touch in approximately twenty-four hours, but, like  any  encaustic, they take several years to cure and harden fully. Paintstiks may be used in mixed media drawing; however, in mixed media painting they should be treated as an encaustic paint, and are best used over dry oil paint or under oil paint mixed with a wax medium.  


There is currently only one brand of acrylic lacquer paint stick on the market. The Edding 650 Grafic Painter is DISCONTINUED available in eighteen colors, white, and black.  The Sakura Company will soon be introducing a  larger  version. These  paint sticks appear to have stronger colors, which is probably  due to the absence of wax. Their consistency is that of lipstick. They may be  blended mechanically while they are still wet, but cannot be blended with solvents wet or dry. Acrylic lacquer paint sticks dry in fifteen minutes after application. Although  they cannot be blended into such other wet media as oil paint, They can safely be used under oil paint or over dry oil paint.


The difference between a crayon and  an  oil  pastel  is that  the crayon  is harder and often has a great deal more filler, which may be either wax or clay or both. Crayons are composed primarily of kaolin (white clay), wax or fatty acids, and dyes. School, or children's, crayons are not for professional use because they are not designed to meet the artist's need for lightfastness and permanence. One product, Caran D'Ache (forty colors), is popular among both children and professionals, although several of the blues and violets did not pass our tests for lightfastness. Artists occasionally complain about many brands that claim light­ fastness yet seem to have a few colors that do not hold up well over time. Consequently, I recommend that when you buy a set  of crayons, you do your own test. Simply take a piece of drawing  paper,  preferably  bristol,  and  apply each color so that when the paper is cut in half each sample of color  will also be cut in half. Place one half in direct sunlight for several weeks and store the other half in the dark. At the end of the test put each half together and compare them. This simple test will indicate the colors to avoid.

There are several crayons currently available that claim to meet minimum standards for professional use. Among these are Berol Art Stix (sixty colors matching Prismacolor Pencils) and Derwent (seventy-two colors), which are sim­ ply blocks, or sticks, of the same material the manufacturer uses in making its pencils. These crayons are made for working in larger  areas  than are  practical with pencils, yet they are much firmer than oil pastels and can be sharpened. Caran D'Ache offers water-soluble crayons as well as wax crayons.


Colored Pencils

Colored pencils were originally developed for the illustrator and graphic artist. The development of the New Realism art  movement has given new respectability to  the colored pencil as a material for fine artwork.  Colored pencils have been used to create detailed drawings that in many ways resemble paintings in egg tempera.

Colored pencils are produced in the same way as crayons, and the same pre­ cautions regarding quality and lightfastness must be taken into account when selecting a brand. Prismacolor Pencils (sixty colors), Derwent No. 19 Artist Pen­cils (seventy-two colors), and Caran D'Ache are popular pencils that are said to meet minimum standards for the artist's use. Caran D'Ache produces water-solu­ble pencils as well as pencils that can be blended with an organic solvent. Pris­macolor and No. 19 Artist Pencils blend only with organic solvents. The wax pencils may be used as a colored resist for  the  water-soluble pencils, so  that when water is used for blending, the areas covered with wax pencil will remain undisturbed.



The principle of transferring a colored liquid to a drawing surface via a brush, pen, marker, or, in uninhibited moments,  the  fingers, is based on capillary attraction. Capillary attraction is the natural attraction of a liquid for a solid  and its tendency  to  flow toward it. Gravity also plays a important role in keeping the flow in one general direction. Capillary  attraction  allows  a  liquid, such as  an ink, to be held by a tube, a point with a split end, or  a collection of filaments  or hairs and then be transferred to a more absorbent surface such as paper. The pen was in use long before the first true brushes made with hair. Simple pens, made from hollow reeds, were already being used by the Egyptians in 4000 B.C. The Greeks were using them in 1296 B.C. Not long  afterward, the Romans used simple pens for making drawings on papyrus. During the Renais­sance, such pens were preferred  for drawing rather than  writing.  The popularity of pens among such artists as Rembrandt, and later Van Gogh and even Expressionists like George Grosz, stems  from the great  expressiveness that  can  be transmitted to a drawing with the flexible pen tip. The tip of  a reed pen widens greatly with the slightest pressure, transferring  larger amounts of color to the working surface. The relaxation of pressure allows  the line  width  to narrow. It is this characteristic that is the standard to which all modem pens are com­pared and, in most cases, that they attempt to duplicate using a more durable tip. Reed pens are not durable and several are often needed to complete even a single drawing.

Reed Pens

Reed pens are made by first removing  the barbs from  the shaft.  The larger end is cut across the shaft. That end is then cut again, about ½ inch from the end, halfway through, curving toward the end. The cut is completed by continuing toward the end and cutting down the middle of the shaft. The same type of cut is made again along the remaining half of the shaft, starting about ¼ inch from  the end. The resulting tapered point can  then  be  further  shaped  o a point or left in a chisel. The edge of a chisel point is made sharper by cutting  the tip to  a 45-degree angle from the top of the point. The  tapered  point  that  is created  is split in two. The hollow part of the reed, just behind the point, is filled with an absorbent material that acts as a reservoir for the liquid. 

The Romans improved the durability of writing and drawing instruments by developing pen nibs (writing points) made of bronze. These early pen  points closely resemble those used today. Yet metal nibs were not commonly available until the nineteenth century, when steel, a more durable  metal, was developed, as was a machine-manufacturing process.

Ouill Pens

Quill pens made from the feathers of such large birds as geese, ravens,  and swans were common during the sixth century B .C. Crow quills were used for fine line work and the name is still used today for its steel substitute. Turkey  quills  have now replaced most other feathers because of  price and  availability.  Quill pens are made by first tempering the quill. This is done  by gently  heating  the quill, without scorching  it, to remove any oil and  fatty  acid.  The tip of  the  quill is then cut similarly to that of a reed, but the taper is shorter and a piece of the quill is often used internally to create a reservoir. A quill  pen  is  more durable  than a reed pen and almost as responsive, but still not as durable as a metal  nib. The need for a metal nib became clear when, by the early nineteenth century, European countries (especially England) began importing 30  million  quills  a  year. The best quills came from Russia and  Holland. Some early attempts  at more durable nibs ranged from tortoise shell to gold with precious stones set in the tip.


The development of modern steel manufacturing, during the early nineteenth century, led to practical metal replacements for the quill. In 1780, in England, Samuel Harrison made steel pens by hand. Such pens, which  were small  steel tubes cut into crow-quill-style points, were not marketed until 1803. In 1828, an Englishman,  John   Mitchell, developed the first practical machine-manufacturing process for the production of metal nibs.

The metal nib, which tended to be very stiff and not conducive to  expressiveness, was modified in the 1830s by putting additional  slits along  the side of the nib as well as by cutting a hole in  the top of the middle slit. The nature of steel, with its strength and resiliency, made it possible to make not only durable nibs, but also a wide variety of shapes and styles.  Many styles of nibs evolved to accommodate the numerous writing and drawing styles.  Some were designed to work with the then readily available varieties of machine-made paper; this paper made the artwork look stiffer and more mechanical.

Today, many types of metal are used to make pen points, including gold and platinum. Often the tip is coated with such specially developed alloys as iridium, ruthenium, and osmium because of their resistance to wear.

Although  the  principles applied in the  production of the fountain pen were known since the mid-seventeenth century, a practical pen was not invented until 1884. L. E. Waterman, a New Yorker,  is credited with this feat. Yet, if  it were not for the development, during the nineteenth century, of synthetic ink  dyes, which are fluid enough to make a fountain pen practical, Waterman's invention would have been worthless. The ball-point pen was  patented  in  1888,  shortly after the fountain pen. But it was not  until 1944,  when  World  War II demanded an improved technology for the production of precision ball bearings, that Lazio Biro was able to produce the first practical ball-point pen and patent it. Improve­ments made during the 1950s, involving methods of coating the ball with ink, as well as producing a micro-texture on the ball's surface, helped it surpass the fountain pen as the universal  tool for writing, but not for  drawing.  With the exception of a few styles of fountain pen, most ball-point pens are unsatisfactory for sketching and drawing because they are designed more for durability than for expressiveness. The pen holder with nib, known as the dip pen, is still the most common pen for fine artwork and calligraphy.

The development by the Japanese of a precision nylon filament led to the introduction of the nylon artist's brush and the fiber-tipped pen. In 1964, Ameri­cans switched by the tens of thousands to the fiber-tipped pen for drawing and writing. It was not until 1985 that sufficient technological progress was made to allow lightfast ink or pigments, necessary  for fine artwork,  to flow freely through a fiber tip.

Bamboo Pens

Bamboo pens were first made by the ancient Egyptians and can be found in art supply stores today. They resemble reed pens, but are larger and much stiffer. Bamboo pens produce scratchy and somewhat crudely expressive lines.

Dip Pens

A dip pen has two to three parts-the nib, the holder, and sometimes a reser­voir. Most reservoirs are permanently attached either to the  holder or to the nib. The Mitchell Pen Company, however, makes reservoirs for its nibs that are sold separately and are theoretically removable for cleaning. Once on the  pen, and used, however, they are often difficult to remove.

The primary advantage of a dip pen is that waterproof inks can be used with­ out concern about clogging. Since the pen is loaded by dipping it into the ink, rather than through an internal reservoir such as that of a fountain pen, dried ink can easily be removed by cleaning  or by redissolving in the same ink. Because of the need to dip constantly to reload the nib with ink and to blot  and  test before restarting, as well as the need to clean up after each use, most users have been induced to switch to non waterproof inks and fountain pens.

There are three basic categories of pen nibs-writing, drawing, and  calligra­phy. The three categories frequently overlap and at times certain groupings are based on traditional justifications that no longer apply. Drawing pen nibs  are simple metal versions of traditional quill pens. They are capable of downward as well as side-to-side strokes. Because of  the pointed  tip, an upward stroke results  in the pen point stabbing the surface. Most writing pen nibs have a semicircular shape at the tip, which has the appearance  of  a droplet  of metal  or looks  as  if the tip had been folded back and underneath. This allows for making the upward stroke without stabbing the surface. You might think this would also be ideal for drawing, and you would be right. With this nib, however, some control of preci­sion will be sacrificed for freedom and speed.

Calligraphy pen nibs are  generally one of two types-lettering or calligraphic. A  lettering  calligraphy  nib has a  tip  that  resembles  a  round  plate.  This will produce letters of a consistent line width throughout the stroke. A calligraphic calligraphy nib has a chisel  edge so that the letters  vary  in thickness  if  the letter is drawn with the edge held at a consistent 45-degree angle. Calligraphy pens are available in sizes up to I½ inches. The Steel Brush, Automatic Lettering Pens, and Coit Lettering Pens are some of  the  larger  styles.  Scroll  nibs,  which  have several points at the tip to draw multiple  lines,  are  also  available.  A  number  of artists have created  abstract  watercolor  paintings  of  interlocking  grids  of  lines using various sizes of large calligraphy nibs.


Fountain Pens The available fountain  pen styles are the same as dip pens, although  the range   is much smaller. Platignum and Osmiroid are the two most common brands of calligraphy fountain pens, although these manufacturers  also  produce  lettering and sketch pens. A new arrival to the United States is the Rotring Artpen, which comes in a limited but finely made variety of calligraphy,  lettering, and sketch­ing fountain pens. Because the art of calligraphy is  most  often  performed at a slow pace, expensive pens with improved flow characteristics and gold nibs, although desirable, are not necessary to produce excellent results. Writing and ketchi11g  are performed at a much quicker pace, and flow characteristics, as well as the quality of the metal used in the nib, become more important factors when choosing a pen.

Waterman Pens, which are made in France, and Mont Blanc pens, made in Germany, are recognized as among the world's finest  writing  pens  and  are  in high demand among sketch artists. One of the reasons for this is that both com­panies use solid gold nibs. The characteristics of gold allow ink to flow along it with minimum resistance. Gold also has the right  balance  of  softness and strength  for ideal responsiveness, and  a gold  nib  will do a great  deal  to improve a writing  pen's performance. A sketching  pen, however,  requires  more than  just a gold nib. It requires a larger nib (although not necessarily a larger point) and quality design, such as the comb-like structure underneath  the  pen  nib,  which holds a quantity of ink ready without  flooding  the tip of  the nib. The best writ­ing pens usually make the best sketching pens. It is not difficult to justify a fine­ quality pen if drawing is your primary medium of expression. Just as a water­ colorist will have at least one brush of the finest quality, so will a sketch artist have at least one fine pen.


Technical Pens

Even though technical pens were originally designed to meet the needs of the drafting industry, they have great appeal to the contemporary artist. The primary characteristics of technical pens are that they produce an unvarying,  even  line and that they use a waterproof ink. They differ from fountain  pens in that they have a point that consists of a round hollow tube with a needle or pin that runs down the center, rather than a traditional  pen  point.  This  design  allows  the ink to leave the tip and deposit on the drawing surface in a consistent and precise width. For best results, the pen should be held perpendicularly to the drawing surface and drawn, slowly, across a smooth surface. Tilting the pen too much, drawing too quickly, or using a moderately textured surface will produce a broken line. Using soft or heavily textured paper can contribute to clogging of the ink flow, for fibers can collect in the tip and  prevent  flow.  Most technical pens can be kept ready to use, loaded with ink, for several weeks if they are properly capped. Each manufacturer has developed a technical device within its pen caps to help keep the ink in the point from drying out. Koh-I-Noor  Rapidograph makes humidifiers for its pens. Rotting  Rapidograph  has  a  new style of technical pen, which recently  entered  the American market. If you  use its ink system with its cartridges, the pen is significantly less  sensitive to clog­ging as the result of ink drying in the tip. Because technical  pens use a  water­ proof ink, filling, maintenance, and cleaning must be done according to the instructions provided by each manufacturer.

Since the line width produced by a technical pen remains  the  same,  several pens of different point sizes are often used to give a more expressive look to the artwork. There are several high-quality brands of technical pens on the market. Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph is the most recognized brand name and this is the pen  that all others use for comparison; therefore, we will use Koh-1-Noor's scale for describing the various sizes of pen points. There  are thirteen  points ranging in size from 0.13mm to 2mm in  width.  A number is assigned to each  width: 6X0  = 0.13mm, 4X0 = 0.18mm, 30 = 0.25mm,  00 = 0.3mm, 0 = 0.35mm, 1 = 0.5mm,  2 = 0.6mm, 2.5 = 0.7mm, 3  = 0.8mm,  3.5 = 1.0mm, 4 = 1.2mm, 6 = 1.4mm, 7 = 2.0mm.  Most  technical  pen  points are made from stainless steel, but some are made with a harder tungsten carbide tip or a sapphire for use on polyester drafting film. (Drafting film and  tracing papers have very abrasive surfaces that can wear down steel tips quickly.) Refograph, made by the Alvin Company, and Unitech, made by the Charvoz Company, have a slightly polished edge to .their points, which serves two basic purposes. First, it allows for adequate ink flow even if  the  pen  is  held  at the same angle that a fountain pen  would  be  held,  and second,  it allows  the pen to be drawn across the surface at a slightly faster pace. However, the polished edge can result in lines  with slight inconsistencies in  width. This might be considered  a drawback by a draftsman, but is usually insignificant to the sketch artist.

To prevent damage to a technical pen, use only those  inks made specifically for technical pens. If your pens are not to be used for several weeks, clean them out.



A  fiber  tip  is  a  collection  of  thin  synthetic  fibers  that  are  roughly  parallel  to  one another. The ink flows along the fibers with the help of capillary attraction and gravity. Fiber-tipped pens, or markers, were originally developed for graphic art use where permanence is second to convenience. Most artists' pigments, because they are composed of solid particles, cannot be made to flow through a fiber tip whereas most dyes are pure liquid and can. Dyes, therefore, are the colorant of choice. Since few dyes are as lightfast as the most fugitive of artists' pigments, fiber-tipped pens, with rare exception, are not safe to use for fine artwork where permanence is the first consideration.

Many fine artists do not realize that there is a difference between materials made for graphic art use and those produced for fine art, and they often  incor­rectly assume that all artists' materials found in art stores are made with utmost permanence in mind. Fiber-tipped pens are the best example of this confusion. When most fine artists see the label "permanent" attributed  to markers,  they  do not realize that it only means that the colorant is waterproof, not lightfast. In graphic art materials in general, and fiber-tipped pens in particular, if  it does not say lightfast on the label, it should be assumed it is not. And when it does say lightfast, it should still be used with some caution in fine artwork, because the lightfastness of these products often meets only the minimum  standards  that  would be applied to artist-grade materials.

Graphic artwork is stored with a cover, and most writing is not done  with display in mind but rather in books, or  notebooks,  which  are  left closed  until used or read. Under these conditions, most graphic art materials and fiber-tipped pens would be considered durable. However, if exposed to direct sunlight  or intense fluorescent light for even several hours, many of these materials will undergo visible changes.

Recent advances in the technology of dye making and fiber tips have allowed the  manufacture  of  some lightfast   markers.   There   are   two   types   of   such   markers that have recently been made available-paint markers in 1983 and a limited selection of fine-point markers for writing in 1985. Paint markers have a fluid consistency of a thin paint, which will adhere permanently to almost  any  sur­  face. They greatly resemble a lacquer paint. These pens, however, are not prac­tical for ordinary writing. The nibs are often too large  and  the  flow  characteristics are not consistent. They are best for labeling, making signs, deco­ rating T-shirts, and for artwork where precision is not crucial.

The Sakura Company has recently introduced a waterproof and lightfast (it claims lightfastness equivalent to one hundred years of tropical sun) marking pen called Pigma Micron. It comes in ten colors and black, and in three point sizes-0.0lmm, 0.03mm, and  0.05mm.  This  pen  is  a  revolutionary  develop­ment. I have tested several prototypes over the years  with  poor  results and this pen is the first successful version. It is only a matter of time  before all marking pens use this technology. Until that time you should use extreme caution in selecting any marker for fine artwork.


Ball-Point Pens

The black inks used in many ball-point pens (as opposed to the so-called rolling ball-tipped pens) are paste inks of carbon and would be considered safe for fine artwork. Few manufacturers, however, identify  the  nature  of  their  ball-point inks. The ones that do are calling theirs "India Ink" ball-point pens.  Roller-ball pens use a liquid ink and write more like  a  marker,  but  are  more  durable because of the metal, or ceramic, ball tip. There are two brands, both introduced


in 1985, which claim to be lightfast and waterproof. The Pigma Ball, made by Sakura Company, is offered in three colors  and  black.  Roll  Pen,  manufactured by the Tombo Company, is available in black and blue. Both companies use the latest technology to produce these pens so that they are lightfast and become waterproof when dry. All other ball, or rolling-ball, pens should  not be consid­ered safe for fine artwork unless lightfastness is specified.

The ball-point pen is recommended to the artist who likes the appearance of sketches with consistent line, as well as being able to sketch  quickly.  A further note is that ball-point pens often do not start immediately when first used or when left standing for long periods. This is a sign of quality workmanship. Pens that start too easily often leave undesirable ink deposits that can later smudge.




Most DRAWING ACCESSORIES do at least one of three things.  They  blend, erase, or protect all or part of a drawing. The first drawing accessory was a finger. The finger, however, is only good for smudging and rubbing out areas of moderate size. The earliest replacements were small bits of rolled leather, later followed by rolled paper, called a tortillon. Over the centuries many tools have devel­ oped, from duck wings to vinyl erasers.



At one time pencil extenders were considered frivolous, somewhat like cigarette holders. When artists' pencils passed the fifty cent mark, racing toward a dollar. however, many artists reconsidered. And it is not unusual for people who use colored pencils to have between a hundred and a hundred and fifty assorted  pencils. If you use colored pencils frequently and find yourself throwing away one-third to one-half of your investment  just because  you can't get a grip on it,  you could save a great deal with the aid of a pencil extender. Pencil extenders, which attach in much the same way as a cigarette holder does to a cigarette, also provide better balance and alleviate hand fatigue.



Before the modem eraser, people used fresh bread. The inside of a slice of bread was simply rolled up into a usable shape. In the mid-eighteenth century, natural rubber began to replace bread. Today, virtually all erasers are made from plastic. An ideal eraser is one that removes the graphite, charcoal, and other drawing media without smudging or disrupting  the surface of the ground.  Although there is no ideal all-purpose eraser, there are several kinds of erasers that are ideal in particular situations.

Gum Erasers

Gum Erasers, which are made from  a rubberlike  compound  and  a dry  cleaner, are one such example. This type of eraser is excellent for general  clean-up  of pencil drawings. I have found that some testing must be done  when this eraser is  to be used with colored papers and colored boards because, in rare instances, the surface color is affected by the soap present in the eraser and a bleached or discolored area may result with its use. Soft Vinyl Plastic Erasers are excellent for graphite pencil and all  drawing papers. Their nonsmudging and nonabrasive  qualities,  combined  with an ability to lift the graphite off the working surface, have made this eraser especially popular.

Pink Rubber Erasers are classic and the most common erasers used today. This eraser is not as effective with graphite as a vinyl eraser. Pink erasers are much better for colored pencils. They are slightly more abrasive and must be used with some caution on nondurable working surfaces.

Kneaded Eraser

Kneaded Erasers are most effective with charcoal  and  soft pastels.  As charcoal or pastel dust build up on the eraser's surface, it can be kneaded  to  produce  a  fresh working surface. This type of eraser can  also be plied  into various shapes  and used as a drawing tool to make highlights on charcoal, pastel, and pencil drawings.

Ink Eraser

Ink Erasers are available in two types-those that are abrasive  and  the  kind  that are chemically imbued and nonabrasive. Most of us are familiar with the old­ fashioned abrasive ink eraser that removes ink by, more often than not

, sanding it away along with the surface. Unless the surface  is  extremely  durable,  the results are often less than desirable. A recent improvement  on  the ink  eraser is  the chemically imbibed eraser, a conventional vinyl eraser combined with a chemical that reacts with ink to remove it from the working surface. The major improvement is the nonabrasiveness of such erasers

Dry Cleaning Powders and Pads

Dry Cleaning Powders and Pads consist of crumpled vinyl eraser that  is sprinkled over the surface and rubbed or rolled around  over it before  beginning  the drawing. This cleans the surface of skin oils,  which  may  have  collected during handling, as well as dirt and smudges. Having a clean surface is  par­ ticularly important when working with wet media, which can bead up on a dirty, nonabsorbent surface.

Cleaning pads consist of crumpled vinyl eraser that  is sprinkled over the surface and rubbed or rolled around  over it before  beginning  the drawing. This cleans the surface of skin oils,  which  may  have  collected during handling, as well as dirt and smudges. Having a clean surface is  par­ ticularly important when working with wet media, which can bead up on a dirty, nonabsorbent surface.



Stomps, tortillons, chamois, and duck wings are  tools  often  used  for  blending dry drawing materials. The names "stomp" and "stump" are  used  interchange­ ably. Some manufacturers attempt to use both names  to  distinguish  different styles of cigar-shaped, compressed paper cylinders; however,  there is no gener­  ally accepted distinction between these terms. The name "stump" is older than stomp, yet the name "stomp"  refers  specifically  to  cigar-shaped  compressed paper cylinders, while stump has more than twenty  other meanings.  Stomps  have a diameter ranging from 1/s to ½ inch, are approximately 5 inches long, and are pointed at one or both ends. A tortillon is made of rolled paper and has only one point, which is usually smaller and more tapered than that  of  a  stomp.  Both stomps and tortillons are used for delicate blending in areas where a finger is too large.

Duck-wing Blenders and Chamois

Duck-wing blenders and chamois (rectangular suede or leather) pieces are used for removing charcoal from a surface  or for blending  larger  areas  than  fingers can accomplish.



Fixatives are "workable," which  means they only gently fix the drawing  material to the surface so the drawing can be reworked or added to. This feature is particularly good when working with dry drawing materials. Not only  is a fix­ ative helpful in keeping the dusty quality at a minimum, but, without its assis­ tance, it is difficult to apply subsequent layers of material and not disturb layers underneath. The major drawback  of  fixatives is that they darken  the appearance  of pastel drawings. This can be minimized by using  a fixative  more  frequently and more lightly, rather than less frequently and more heavily.

The mouth atomizer, an ancient tool for spraying liquids by mouth, has been replaced by commercial spray cans and airbrushes. An airbrush is used to apply homemade fixatives, for which  many  older, excellent formulas can  be found.  It  is the commercial spray fixatives in a can, however, that are used by most artists because of their convenience and effectiveness. Most of these fixatives are made from an acrylic resin dissolved in an organic solvent, such as lacquer  thinner.  There are two types of spray fixatives-regular, which is scented,  and  odorless.  The odorless is newer to the marketplace,  and  I feel it is not an  improvement.  The purpose of the annoying scent is to  warn  you  that there is something  in the air that is not good to breathe.  The  odorless  fixative  tends  to give a false  sense of security. Proper ventilation, and in some cases personal protection, should be used with all such sprays.

When applying fixative, the paper should be placed flat on a table and sprayed lightly, holding the can about 12 inches from the surface.  If  it is held  too  close,  the spray will pool and the results will appear blotchy; if the can is held too far away the spray will tend to dry in route and will not be as effective and will result in a chalky appearance. It is best to apply two to three very light coats rather than one heavy coat. The spray should begin off the edge of the paper and end off the edge of the paper in a consistent parallel motion from one edge to the other. Creativity at this point is not appropriate.

A final protective spray is basically a heavier version of a  fixative.  It  is designed to fix the drawing material permanently to itself and to the drawing surface. It is impossible to store or to handle unprotected soft pastel and charcoal drawings without disturbing, if not permanently damaging, them.  Even  protect­ing them through framing is best accomplished after a protective spray has been used.

A protective spray is most effective when used in combination with a fixative.

Frequent, light applications of a fixative will mean  less  protective  spray  is  needed in the end. This will also result in less darkening of the drawing.  Protec­tive sprays are not 100  percent effective in totally  fixing  dry drawing  materials. In fact, to do so would severely affect the appearance of the artwork. Conse­quently, some care still has to be exercised in  handling, presentation, an  stor­age of such artwork. (For more information about framing and storage).

Final protective sprays are available in gloss or matte finish. Since soft pastels and charcoal produce a matte appearance, it would seem that the choice of spray should be matte. This is not the case. Soft pastel and charcoal are very absorbent, and a gloss spray, when used lightly, will appear matte over  these  mate­rials. The purpose of using a gloss spray whenever possible is that it dries with a clear film, while a matte spray dulls the appearance of the drawing as well as producing a matte look. This would not be the case,  however,  with oil pastels, paint sticks, and heavily applied graphite. A gloss spray  will  leave  a  shine on these materials. A matte spray will not leave a shine, yet some caution  must still  be used because the spray will tend to dull the appearance. Whatever the choice, drawing materials with a high wax content, such as oil pastels and colored  pen­ cils, should be sprayed with at least a workable fixative to prevent the wax from developing a chalky surface appearance over time.

Always test a spray before using it on your original or final work.



Of the many types of tapes, four are the most relevant to the  production  of artwork. For the sake of discussion, and because two of the four tapes are pro­ duced only by 3M, products made by 3M are used as examples.

Masking Tape is primarily an industrial tape that is easily  adapted  for the art­  ist's use. Masking tape is produced in several weights and tack (stickiness). The lighter the weight, the more easily the tape will tear during application and  removal. Lightweight tapes can tear too easily and make removal a laborious process. Because the heavier weights cost significantly more money and several rolls are often needed, most retail stores are cost conscious and carry only the lighter weights. Technical information about these tapes is rarely available; there­ fore, it is best to make your own crude test of the  tape.  A  tape  of  adequate weight should peel off the roll without tearing, and when applied  to  a  glass surface it should also release without tearing.

Masking tape, in general, is considered a high-tack, or very sticky, tape and cannot be used on  paper or board  without  damaging  the surface during removal. It is best used on a hard, durable surface. When using  masking  tape  to mask  off an area that is to be painted, a crisply painted edge can  be obtained  by  burnish­ ing down the edge of the tape before painting.  When  masking  for acrylic  paints, it is helpful to apply a thin coat of polymer medium along the burnished  edge of the tape. This will provide extra protection from paint creeping under the edge during painting.

Masking tape ages poorly and is not meant to be a permanent part of  the artwork. After several years the adhesive weakens, crystallizes,  stains,  and releases from the working surface. In fact,  virtually  all  pressure-sensitive tapes are unsafe to be used as part of permanent artwork.

Drafting Tape (No. 230 by 3M) greatly resembles masking tape in appearance. The primary difference is that it has a lower tack, which is  designed  not  to  disturb the surfaces of most papers when it is removed. Yet it is strong enough to hold the paper in place. The harder the surface of the paper,  the better this tape  will perform.

Artists' White Tape  (No.  285 by 3M), is a low-tack,  flat,  white tape designed  as a paper tape, primarily manufactured for the graphic arts industry. The top surface is designed to accept writing. When this tape is applied  to a paper sur­  face, it exhibits a lower tack than drafting tape. On a slick, nonporous surface, however, it exhibits a higher tack than drafting tape. The major flaw with this product is that if it is applied to a nonporous, glasslike  surface  and  left  for  several days, removal often results in some of the adhesive separating from  the tape and remaining attached to the surface.

In recent conversations with 3M it was explained that further development  of  the tape would be too costly and that they plan to discontinue  this  product.  Instead, 3M will develop for this market a less costly  and  less  versatile  tape called Post-it Cover-up Tape #651.

Removable Transparent Tape (No. 811, formally 281 by 3M) is a new tape, which in appearance resembles Magic Tape by 3M. It is primarily  designed  for  the graphic arts. Dry transfer lettering, for example, can be applied to the top surface of the tape; then whole words, sentences,  or designs  can  be easily  be lifted and transferred to another position. The advantage of being able to see through the tape is that it allows exact  positioning.  Since  widths  up to 3 inches are available, this tape can be ideal as an airbrush frisket (a low-tack transparent film that is used for airbrush masking). A new "improved" version released  in  1985 is not as good quality as the prototype No. 281. I have had  some  com­  plaints about it not performing as well as a frisket  since  some  paint  tends  to creep under the edge of the tape. For the fine artist, this tape is excellent for assisting in producing working models or mock-ups, or for use in temporary labeling of delicate working surfaces.

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