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I once read about an artist who, before starting to work, would find himself running his hand over the sheet of paper in a sort of caress, marveling at the beauty of this piece of paper. At first I thought it was the author embellishing the story, but one day, sitting out in the field about to start a drawing, I found myself running my hand over the surface of my paper. Now I am not saying you should run your hand over every piece of paper you are about to work on. What I am saying is that you will discover for yourself the wonder of paper, the many different surfaces that are available to experiment with, and how the various textures will react to your pencil or charcoal.

Paper is made three different ways: handmade, mould-made and machine-made. As the name suggests, each sheet of handmade paper is individually made by hand. No two sheets will be exactly the same. Many beautiful papers are produced by this method. One way to recognize a handmade sheet is by the natural deckles it will have on all four sides of the paper. Today, many individual shops produce handmade papers. If you know of someone in your area making paper, call and ask if you can watch the operation. It will be a wonderful experience, and perhaps you will see a sheet you might like to try.

Mould-made paper looks like handmade paper, but it is made with a cylinder-mould machine that rotates at a very low speed, duplicating all the processes of handmade paper and allowing for quality control. This method also enables editions of paper to be made, even to reproducing the deckles, with one difference. On a handmade sheet, the deckles will be uneven, whereas a mould-made piece will have more of a uniform deckle. Some of the best-known names in paper, like Arches, Fabriano and Whatman, to name a few, produce great papers with this process. This means artists have available a wide selection of good paper with a handmade look at a reasonable price.

Machine-made papers are made by a fast-moving machine that does everything from pulp to finished sheet —even simulating texture—all on one machine. Sheets of paper made by this method are uniform and have no deckle. Many fine companies like Strath-more and Canson produce excellent machine-made paper, providing the artist with yet another category of reasonably priced, high-quality papers.

Ingres Artist SketchEasy Charcoal Sketches Human Body

Mould-Made Paper

The End of Fall, 19'/2"x27V2", charcoal sketch on a sheet of Fabriano Ingres cover.

Handmade Paper The Gladiator

23"x31" Charcoal drawing on a piece of Mis-umi, a handmade Japanese paper.

Each sheet is a little different, but all have very receptive surfaces for soft charcoal and soft lead. I used a combination of pencil and V4-inch charcoal leads.

Mould-Made Paper

The End of Fall, 19'/2"x27V2", charcoal sketch on a sheet of Fabriano Ingres cover.

This mould-made Italian paper with a laid texture has an excellent surface for charcoal and pencil. I used one side of a Winch charcoal lead to create a chisel-like surface, which left me a sharp edge for fine lines.

Charcoal Drawings Nature

Laid Paper

White Pine is a charcoal drawing on Fabriano Ingres cover heavyweight stock. Again, I wanted an airy look to this study, which the Ingres paper gave.

Ingres Drawing Technique

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Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

Easy Step-By-Step Lessons How Would You Like To Teach Yourself Some Of The Powerful Basic Techniques Of Pencil Drawing With Our Step-by-Step Tutorial. Learn the ABC of Pencil Drawing From the Experts.

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