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  #41  
Old 18-11-2010, 01:16 AM
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AWESOME sketch Alex! Never attempted lunar sketchiing, but your instructions will help if I choose to do it.
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  #42  
Old 13-12-2010, 12:58 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Pencils, pencils, pencils...

Hi all,

I've just been to my favourite art supply store, and have found out that the Staedtler Lumograph "EE" grade pencil has been discontinued.

The "EE"s have been replaced with the Staedtler Mars LUMOGRAPH 7B & 8B. These are just like the old EE. They are NOT graphite pencils. The more resemble the China Graph in texture, and produce a flat black line with NO sheen like graphite does.

NOTE: other brands of pencil also have 7B, 8B & 9B, but these are all graphite based. They will not produce a sheenless mark and are grey in colour.
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  #43  
Old 23-12-2010, 09:37 AM
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A great drawing and good advice on technique! Drawing is something of a dead art. I recently went back to UNI to do a fine art degree after 18 months at TAFE. The TAFE HOD hunted up an old Russian trained drawer. She was amazing. At UNI they had no one teaching drawing at all. I now teach design graphics and architecture. I insist on students gaining hand drawing skills. If I see smudging I want the drawing be done over. Most students don't use enough white - this can be drawn over the grey/black to get the correct levels. I personally like to leave my guide lines in a drawing as it gives it a certain dinamic feel. Also I feel a good drawing is often democratic ie. as much effort goes into the parts that are not really the main focus of the drawing. Working from one part of the drawing then on another helps this. An appreciation of "negative space" drawing is also valuable.
But in the end everyone has their own style.
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  #44  
Old 28-03-2011, 11:48 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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I thought this is a good place to give a head's up on the article I wrote on DSO sketching, using an innovative technique developed by a fellow Aussie astro illustrator Scott Mellish:

http://www.iceinspace.com.au/63-614-0-0-1-0.html

It is an extremely useful technique to use on just about all DSO's, galaxies, nebulae, open and globular clusters.

The good thing about this technique is that it doesn't need to be used exclusively at the eyepiece. If the only materials you have at hand happens to be a pencil and sheet of paper, you can do your initial sketch with these, making notes, guide lines, star plotting, etc. Then you can translate these onto black paper with the Mellish Technique in the comfort of a warm, dry room, . It can be confusing to have and use all the tools listed in the Basic Kit in the dark, so just a simple pencil and paper approach may be a good first step.

This is the approach I used with my sketch of NGC 2818 & 2818A. My Basic Kit wasn't at hand for me to use, so a pencil and paper was used to do the 'at the eyepiece' first sketch. Sometimes we just need to adapt.
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  #45  
Old 01-04-2011, 03:31 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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If you're not sure where to start with sketching, or with the Mellish Technique, this might help. The picutures in the Mellish article where done by reproducing black and white images of the selected targets. They were also images that weren't too far from how they appear in the eyepiece. More detailed images can only serve to confuse.

Have a look at the image and the sketch development. This will give you a very good introduction to using this method. Then at the eyepiece, you are leaving the guess work out of it.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (130689109.KSjwhtFs[1].jpg)
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Click for full-size image (mellish technique (7).jpg)
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Click for full-size image (m104-800.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (M4.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (mellish technique (5).jpg)
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  #46  
Old 03-04-2011, 01:52 PM
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overlord (Chucky)
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Your pictures are very awesome and professional!

I just use a 2b or 6b sometimes and smudge it with an eraser.
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  #47  
Old 03-04-2011, 05:06 PM
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Thanks Alex, that's a very useful adjunct to your article.
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  #48  
Old 21-07-2011, 10:52 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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A Lunar experiment

Hi all,

First I need to say that the following IS A SKETCH OF A PHOTOGRAPH. It was done as an experiment to try out a new technique that I'd like to share.

I was inspired to this after seeing the stunning sketch by Erika Rix of the crater Bullialdus. Not only is it an amazing sketch, but that she only used two bits of gear: a crayon and a charcoal pencil.

The sketch I did was using white and black charcoal on a deep violet paper. This paper allows me to see where I've used the black charcoal, and this feedback I wouldn't get if I was using black paper.

The purpose of this post is to encourage expeimentation away from the eyepiece. It all doesn't need to be done under testing conditions. Mind you, I'd be drowning right now if I was outside! So a wet night like tonight is the perfect time to tryout something new.

This experiment has me thinking about using a white pastel pencil, as the pigment would be more intense. I may also look into trying a crayon as Erika has, as its pigment would also be a little warmer, not just brighter. It also showed me it was also quite a quick sketching method. The white and black charcoals are very forgiving - you don't need to use an eraser, just go over a white mark with the black, or a black mark with the white. Easy. A crayon may not be so easy as that, but the texture of the paper would be less of a factor.

Have a go some time.

Mental.
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  #49  
Old 25-07-2011, 09:27 PM
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That's another great result Alex. And not a bad idea to work from a photo when it's too wet. I gather you're talking about rain, but at the moment down here the dew is more than enough to turn even a well protected sheet into mush.
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  #50  
Old 10-08-2011, 12:38 AM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Star rendition, and further nebulous development.

Hi all,

Jeremy Perez may be a name familiar to some of you as one of the fellows responsible for ASOD. Jeremy has been greatly influenced by the work of Scott Mellish, and we have been corresponding on the topic of astro sketching. He has also showed me a little added spice he's come up with to highlight those occasionally exceptionally bright stars we encounter. While I've described marking bright stars with the use of a small diffraction pattern, Jeremy has furthered this by adding a soft glow to this diffraction pattern to simulate the glare that we would experience at the EP.

The picture below shows a scale of star brightness, including that added glare effect, and a little random collection of dots to show the effect of such a combination.
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Last edited by mental4astro; 10-08-2011 at 01:03 AM.
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  #51  
Old 10-08-2011, 09:09 AM
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Very nice effect Alex. Only problem is at the moment the blurry glow around a lot of the stars that I see would have to be half the FOV due to the atmospheric moisture
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  #52  
Old 06-09-2011, 11:38 AM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Layers, layers, layers.

A little while ago I was having a bit of a fang of my sketching kit, just to see what would happen when I did things. As the materials used in the Mellish technique are so forgiving and adaptable, I thought I'd build on the in-the-field layering I had a go at.

The following sketches are of a ficticious dark pillar, very loosely based on the Fish Mouth of M42

With this layering, I started with the faint white background glow, not concerned with the dead accuracy of the size of the dark pillar, just its position. I then added the dark pillar in the same way as the white, by making dust of the black charcoal and painting it on with a fine soft brush. The leading edge highlight was then layered over the black, and final adjustments of the highlight done again with the dusty black.

The only time I used a sharp point of black charcoal was to mark out the edge of the dark pillar's leading edge.

The two pics below show the pillar with and without the 'energising star field', which was added after the pillar was finished. I was struck at the effect that these tiny dots had on the drama of the pillar.

The whole point of this post is to show how flexible the Mellish Technique is. I didn't use an eraser here at all. If I didn't like what I laid down, I went over it with the opposing colour and then relaid the effect I wanted. To use an eraser here would have been too much of a risk, even with an erasing shield.

Mental.
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  #53  
Old 20-11-2011, 11:05 AM
CChelle (Michelle)
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Wow!

Alex, your sketches are AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing this. I read in the intro to the StarryNight program that came with my scope, that sketching was a good way to record what you see and I did an EXTREMELY basic sketch of Jupiter with all 5 of her moons last night. Then I got my first good look at the Orion Nebula and wished I had a black pad and pastels. This morning I found this thread and I am so excited! Today I am going to turn this house upside down to find my plack pastel paper and some pastels and pens (they've been packed away years ago when I got bored with pastel drawing and went on to goodness knows what hobby followed that one). Even if there is not good viewing tonight I am going to start practicing this technique and just draw some imaginary things from the memory of what I saw.

I just remembered something that I learned from my pastel days. There is a pastel paper that is like a very fine grade sand paper. It has fabulous tooth that is great for building up layers and it would be wonderful for this type of drawing. You can paint it first with black ink and then draw on it when the ink is dry

Last edited by CChelle; 20-11-2011 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Adding more.
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  #54  
Old 22-04-2012, 04:16 PM
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inaugural scott mellish astro sketching competition

Congratulation Alex Massey the winner of both catergories in the inaugural Scott Mellish astro sketching competition hosted by the Astronomical society of NSW at this years SPSP held this weekend,once again congratulations Alex
qld
Quote:
Originally Posted by CChelle View Post
Alex, your sketches are AMAZING! Thanks so much for sharing this. I read in the intro to the StarryNight program that came with my scope, that sketching was a good way to record what you see and I did an EXTREMELY basic sketch of Jupiter with all 5 of her moons last night. Then I got my first good look at the Orion Nebula and wished I had a black pad and pastels. This morning I found this thread and I am so excited! Today I am going to turn this house upside down to find my plack pastel paper and some pastels and pens (they've been packed away years ago when I got bored with pastel drawing and went on to goodness knows what hobby followed that one). Even if there is not good viewing tonight I am going to start practicing this technique and just draw some imaginary things from the memory of what I saw.

I just remembered something that I learned from my pastel days. There is a pastel paper that is like a very fine grade sand paper. It has fabulous tooth that is great for building up layers and it would be wonderful for this type of drawing. You can paint it first with black ink and then draw on it when the ink is dry
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  #55  
Old 07-07-2012, 07:38 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Having a shot at a wide field sketch

Following on from my recent experience with binoculars I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my ideas.


It's interesting how I'm comfortable pointing my 17.5" dob at some big and complex DSO, like Eta Carina, no problem. But my recent experience at a dark sky site with a pair of 11X70 binos had me stumped on EVERY aspect - where to start, how to go about it, what to use, boarder or none?

Why the problems with a wide field? Under a dark site sky, the background glow of the Milky Way is astounding! It is omnipresent, and complex in its structure. What may seem like a modest aperture with the binoculars reveals such an involved image, it is not so much about the actual wide field view.

The silver lining in my binocular session was that I didn't get to do a sketch! Clouds saw to that. But the result was that it got me thinking on how to tackle such a sketch. Inspired by this experience with the binos, I had a go at a sketch at home. I sketched the region around M8 and M20, for the striking dark nebulae around them, the extraordinary expanse of M8 itself and I also had another "wide field" sketch of this area done with my 8" f/4 scope from home a couple of months before as a reference for the placing of the key stars in this area.

First I envisaged how I wanted the final sketch to look like, and then developed a process to achieve this. The various illustration techniques are those used in the Mellish Technique - I've just employed them in such a way to give me the effects I was after.

I started by marking the boarder circle with a Chinagraph pencil. The Chinagraph would be able to resist being rubbed out with an eraser when the time came to remove the material that extended beyond the sketch - a part of the final sketch I wanted to achieve would have a sharp, clean edge to give the viewer an indication of the brilliance of the image compared to the blackness of the inside of the binos.

I next used a big soft brush to start laying down an overall glow to the circle. I deliberately went over the boarder as it is the only way to achieve an even colouration to the FOV. As mentioned above, this "overhang" can be removed later.

I then used a large stiff bristle brush to give me the tiny starkle, a stronger glow, and to provide the mottling. This is a little time consuming to cover the necessary area, but the effect is well worth the effort.

Once the background glow is finished I start adding the nebulous features with smaller soft round brushes. The dark nebulae & dark lanes are also added using charcoal and the various brushes. The star fields are next added.

What may need to be done afterwards at the desk is accentuate the intensity of the background star field. This is done by lightly pot-marking the entire background with a sharp soft pastel pencil. This too is time consuming, and I had to do it in over a couple of sittings. The depth that this pot-marking achieves is beautiful.

The finished sketch below shows the brightest stars with difraction spikes. I'm not too happy with them, particluarly with the sting of them across the area where M20 sits. They could be too big, too bold, incorrect orientation, that they are there at all. As this sketch is just an experiment I'm not too concerned and will help me be more careful in my next sketch.

Click image for larger version

Name:	Wide field M8 to M20 Hill End (2).jpg
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Once I was happy with the end result I removed the overhang with an eraser, being careful not to cut into the circle.

All the dark nebulae and lanes were added with a brush and over the background glow. This allowed me to texture the FOV very easily and accurately. Amazing stuff black charcoal!

Have a go at a wide field sketch. My biggest hinderance was just were to start, so I just did an experimental sketch first. I'm ready to tackle the real thing now,

Clear skies and sharp pencils,

Mental.
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  #56  
Old 14-07-2012, 03:20 PM
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That is amazing Alex. You've really caught the feel of looking through binoculars. Looking forward to "the real thing".
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  #57  
Old 30-01-2015, 11:46 AM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Sketching rig and some dew control

Being comfortable while sketching is important. Keeps cramps at bay and makes the process much more pleasurable. Below is the rig I use for sketching DSO's, and some ways I keep dew under control as much as possible. I am exploring other methods, but these are a way off from being tested.

My main DSO scope is my 17.5" push-pull dob. While the eyepiece at zenith is not too high up, I, , still need one step up to reach it there (I blame my gene pool for this... , ). So I have a step ladder, which also comes in handy when other squirts like me, or little kids, have a look through the scope.

And, as the step ladder is only three steps, it has a tall supporting arch and a table that folds out to take pots of paint, brushes, whatever. This got me thinking on how I could exploit all this capacity. So, using the stuff I had already at home (net cost - bugger all! ), I came up with:

* A rig that hooks over the top of the supporting arch. The hook is placed just above the middle of the rig as it was the most useful position after playing around with different locations of the gross rig at different heights on the ladder and on chairs. The hook is also large enough in gape so I can hook it over most chair backs, including those plastic moulded ones that are frequently encountered.

* An MDF off-cut I shaped into a makeshift clamp with nothing more than a couple of countersunk bolts, and a pair of washers and wing-nuts. The sketch pad just slips under the loosened MDF 'clip' and I tighten the wing nuts. This also allows me to very easily rotate the sketch pad during a long sketch and I begin to notice rotation of the field.

* The 'shield' is a piece of black Coreflute. As I am right handed, it attaches from the left hand corner of the rig. It reaches some 10cm, 15cm beyond the right hand corner of the rig as it cannot come down that side or it would obstruct my sketching hand. The overhang allows for more protection from dew as it cannot come down that side.

* My feeble red lights I attach along the left hand side of the shield, and are aimed across the face of the page. This reduces how much glare is reflected back off the page to me. I can also reposition the lights as I need.

Dew protection by the sheild is pretty good. While things around me can be soaked, the paper barely begins to curl on the edges. Not total protection as the paper is still exposed to the air, and I breath on the page too. But dry enough to be able to work.

The pencil case I use is a BIG sucker. It is not packed with much, but its size is great to offer my materials shelter from dew, and its big mouth gives me easy access during the night. Again, not perfect, but as above, enough to keep me going.

When at home, I mainly sketch the Moon, and use my C8. I have the creature comfort of an observing stool now, . To protect my materials, I just use a box put on its side, and placed on a chair. My sketch pads I hold in my hands, so protecting it from dew is a lot more difficult. But there are measures I can take to help:

* Don't water the garden that afternoon or evening if you are thinking of doing a sketch. This will greatly reduce the amount of moisture in your yard.

* Consider the rainfall during the day or recent past as this will also release a lot of moisture into your evening yard.

* Understand your local weather patterns. Some places are more prone to heavy dew of a night time than others. If you live in a place that routinely gets soaked of an evening, it might inspire you to come up with ways to help you control this having too much impact on your situation.

* Work at a good pace. Stuff around or overwork a piece puts the paper at risk.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Alex.
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  #58  
Old 04-07-2015, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mental4astro View Post
If you're not sure where to start with sketching, or with the Mellish Technique, this might help. The picutures in the Mellish article where done by reproducing black and white images of the selected targets. They were also images that weren't too far from how they appear in the eyepiece. More detailed images can only serve to confuse.

Have a look at the image and the sketch development. This will give you a very good introduction to using this method. Then at the eyepiece, you are leaving the guess work out of it.
I like these ones. they my favs
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  #59  
Old 22-11-2015, 01:08 PM
mental4astro (Alexander)
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Well, after much threatening, I have finally made a video on the method I use for sketching with the Mellish Technique. I hope you find this video informative and useful:



Alex.
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