Tonking is a well-established way of erasing or knocking back a charcoal drawing. It was devised, I am led to believe, by one Professor Sir Henry Tonks.
1/ Sketch your drawing in very basically using line to establish the composition. Then apply the tone from your observation to the drawing. Do this in a very broad way giving the drawing a black and white appearance.
2/ Take a soft cloth and beat back the drawing dispersing the tone, and at the same time knocking back the tonal density of the whole drawing. This gives the drawing a very atmospheric feel and leaves us with the ghost of the first drawing.
3/ You are now in a position to re-establish your drawing both compositionally and tonally until you have created the effects of chiaroscuro (light and dark). This process can be repeated many times until you are satisfied with your drawing and you have bought it to a satisfactory conclusion. Now 'fix' the drawing.
Tonking can also be applied to still life subjects. Here each object is given form by the selective application of the technique.
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