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Old 30-09-2014, 07:50 AM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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mental4astro is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: sydney, australia
Posts: 4,806
Nice work Ben. Great to see a few works!

Where were you when you did these sketches? Under dark skies or urban?

Diffraction spikes are great tool to add 'brilliance' to the brighter stars without making big dots. I use them too for this.

An HB pencil is a good start. Try going softer with graphite, 2B, 4B, even 8B. These will kick things along with the blending/shading stick. You might even like to explore things with charcoal too - very different beast to graphite.

One thing I do to develop technical ideas & also shake out cobwebs if I haven't done a sketch for some time is to sit down with a black and white astro photo & practice a bit. This way you can push techniques without fear of 'wrecking' a proper sketch done at the eyepiece. If something doesn't quite work, no harm done. If another starts tickling your fancy you can develop it some more. What a photo does is guide your eye to the forms, shapes & density variations that on your own we just can't do. Other times I find I don't need a photo, just working on a technique. Sometimes it is best to try things out in the light of day so you go to the eyepiece best prepared & not guessing.

last week I started a sketch of the Tarantula Nebula. So many folds in it. After 2 & a half hours I was not happy with it. Something just wasn't right. I started a practice piece at home to try a few things out. I spent about an hour 'doodling' until I came up with something that gave me the effects I was after. This last Saturday night I continued with this Tarantula piece, employing what I had sussed out at home. Much happier now with the piece,

Do a few practice pieces. It will embolden you at the eyepiece! You'll get a whole lot more out if you don't have to worry about what the pencil is doing.
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