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View Full Version : How to do small lines properly, with what


Enid Goyers
08-29-2009, 12:41 PM
Hi,
I don't know if this is the right place for my question. If not, my apologies for the extra work in moving it to another location.

Sometimes I need to do small thin lines. I bought several types of pencils for pastel, but none of them seems to work on pastel paint applied before. What can I do?

Thanks for a good advice.
Enid

jackiesimmonds
08-29-2009, 12:51 PM
Pastel pencils are HARD pastel, which works fine on bare paper, but when you try to use them over layers of softer pastel, they will be more likely to score into the pastel rather than create fine lines.

So, if you want to use the pencils for fine lines, best probably NOT to try to use them over the top of soft pastel. Or, perhaps a spray of fixative before you use them will help, but in my experience, it doesn't help that much!

If you use hard pastels throughout your piece, then you may have more luck with the pencils.

Otherwise, the best way to create thin, fine lines with a stick of thick soft pastel is to create an "edge" on the stick itself. On a spare sheet of paper, run the pastel along the paper until you get a chisel edge. Then, used very lightly and carefully, you can use this chisel edge to create your fine lines.

Look at these. Which colour lines were done with a pastel, and which with a pastel pencil? answer at the end of the post:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Aug-2009/1805-fine_lines2.jpg

Have a look at this pic, you will see fine lines on the petals, and also on the chopsticks nd the calligraphy on the plate:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Aug-2009/1805-Oriental_still_Life_I.jpg

I suggest you try creating fine lines on a spare sheet of paper, the trick is to keep your touch REALLY light. If you do this, you should not have a problem obtaining small details and fine lines.

ps the pink is the pencil.....

BetsyPriesing
08-29-2009, 12:54 PM
Enid yes this is probably a pastel talk question but i usually use a piece of printer paper put into place and pull a soft pastel along it keeping it(pastel) hanging over the paper the tinest bit, leaving a straight line. hope it helps :)

Enid Goyers
08-29-2009, 12:57 PM
Pastel pencils are HARD pastel, which works fine on bare paper, but when you try to use them over layers of softer pastel, they will be more likely to score into the pastel rather than create fine lines.

So, if you want to usinge the pencils for fine lines, best probably NOT to try to use them over the top of soft pastel. Or, perhaps a spray of fixative before you use them will help, but in my experience, it doesn't help that much!

If you use hard pastels throughout your piece, then you may have more luck with the pencils.

Otherwise, the best way to create thin, fine lines with a stick of thick soft pastel is to create an "edge" on the stick itself. On a spare sheet of paper, run the pastel along the paper until you get a chisel edge. Then, used very lightly and carefully, you can use this chisel edge to create your fine lines.

I do this all the time, and dont have a problem obtaining small details and fine lines.

Thank you Jackie. I have tried the chisel edge but my fingers still apply too much pressure, so the pastel breaks. Guess I have to follow your suggestion and do some exercise until I know how much I can push my pastel.
Enid

Enid Goyers
08-29-2009, 01:04 PM
Enid yes this is probably a pastel talk question but i usually use a piece of printer paper put into place and pull a soft pastel along it keeping it(pastel) hanging over the paper the tinest bit, leaving a straight line. hope it helps :)
Yes, Betsy, I know what you mean, but what in case of a curved line?
Your suggestion is good though for abstract paintings in pastel, which I will certainly bear in mind.
Thank you.
Enid

jackiesimmonds
08-29-2009, 01:10 PM
If the pastel breaks, then you are definitely using too much pressure. Those lines I created above, the pastel was literally WHISPERED across the paper, with some slight degree of pressure to get the slightly thicker lines.

Incidentally when I say a chisel edge, I mean not like a chisel (!!!) but like the ones below, with the ticks:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/29-Aug-2009/1805-fine_lines3.jpg

Incidentally, it is not your FINGERS applying too much pressure, it is YOU!!! :lol: Really, try almost NOT touching the paper with the edge of the pastel. If you are using soft pastel, no matter how light your touch, you will make a mark. Pretend that the paper is RED HOT, and as soon as you touch your pastel to it, it will explode. The slightest pressure and BOOM!!!! This might concentrate your mind a bit........(if not scare you to death....)

DAK723
08-29-2009, 02:39 PM
You may find (at least I do) that it is harder to get a thin line with the really soft pastels. I usually use a mid to semi-hard pastel for finer lines. Also, I often find that if I draw a line that is too thick - I cover part of that line with another color. Of course, this only works if you have a wider area of color next to the thin line. But the method I usually use to draw thin lines is to work larger - so my thin lines don't have to be that thin!

Don

Deborah Secor
08-29-2009, 02:44 PM
I agree completely with Jackie. I often find that grabbing the softest of my pastels, finding that edge and applying a whisper of it atop the pastel already in place is most successful. On a paper with some tooth the softer sticks seem to be 'grabbed' by the tooth, leaving delicate lines. Textured paper (like the front side of Canson Mi-Tientes) makes it a bit harder to make a nice, consistently fine line. It does take practice!

Deborah

jackiesimmonds
08-30-2009, 03:55 AM
Guess I have to follow your suggestion and do some exercise until I know how much I can push my pastel.
Enid

Incidentally Enid, try not to PUSH your pastels, PULL them. Just in case you were being literal here!

Colorix
08-30-2009, 04:46 PM
One brand of square hard pastels work really and surprisingly well on top of softies, and that is the one called Manet in Europe, and Richeson's in the US.

Other square hard ones just plow through the softies without leaving a pigment mark.

Otherwise, added to the excellent suggestions above: the edge of a broken off bit of a stick is usually good for a few very fine lines.

And I think that 'push' is meant to be 'press', as in heavy handed, press down against the paper while making a pulling movement. In my language too, push and press is the same word, and we foreigners do not always find the exact word in English when we try to express our thoughts, translating them.

Charlie

jwcarroll
08-31-2009, 01:46 PM
If it isn't a very long thin line I have used some pan pastel and a thin applicator to makes short thin lines.

I have also made masks using some scrap printer paper. Fold the paper in half and cut a very thin portion of the fold out. Then open it up and you have a small mask you can lay over the area and use a soft pastel to paint a line. This is a useable thing if you are not wanting to be too picky about the looks of the line.

I have very large hands so it is very hard for me to make fine whisper like motions on my pastels. I have in the past used pastel dust and a small paint brush to apply it, but this has problems in itself as the pastel doesn't stick very well.

I like a few of the ideas above though and may try them and maybe develop my hamhock hands into the touch of a feather. :D

Deborah Secor
08-31-2009, 03:38 PM
And I think that 'push' is meant to be 'press', as in heavy handed, press down against the paper while making a pulling movement. In my language too, push and press is the same word, and we foreigners do not always find the exact word in English when we try to express our thoughts, translating them.

Charlie, I think something may have gone astray here... To clarify, you want to use a very light stroke. 'Pull' is the movement, literally to pull the pastel down or across the paper for a long, thin stroke. Don't press but let the pastel float or whisper lightly over the top using a pulling motion.

Deborah

Colorix
08-31-2009, 05:24 PM
No, but it really doesn't matter.