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Title: A Practical Hand-book of Drawing for Modern Methods of Reproduction
Author: Harper, Charles G. (Charles George)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Practical Hand-book of Drawing for Modern Methods of Reproduction" ***

Transcriber’s Notes:

  Underscores “_” before and after a word or phrase indicate _italics_
    in the original text.
  Small capitals have been converted to SOLID capitals.
  Illustrations have been moved so they do not break up paragraphs.
  Typographical errors have been silently corrected but other variations
    in spelling and punctuation remain unaltered.
  The use of “v” in REPRODVCTION and Illvstrations as they appear on the
    title page and in the heading for the list of illustrations have been


                A · PRACTICAL · HANDBOOK · OF · DRAWING

                          CHARLES G. HARPER,


    _Illustrated with Drawings by several Hands, and with Sketches
       by the Author showing Comparative Results obtained by the
             several Methods of Reproduction now in Use._

                      LONDON: CHAPMAN & HALL, LD.



_It is with a peculiar satisfaction that I inscribe this book to
yourself, for to you more than to any other occupant of an editorial
chair is due the position held by “process” in illustrating the hazards
and happenings of each succeeding week._

_Time was when the “Pall Mall Budget,” with a daring originality
never to be forgotten, illustrated the news with diagrams fashioned
heroically from the somewhat limited armoury of the compositor. Nor
I nor my contemporaries, I think, have forgotten those weapons of
offence—the brass rules, hyphens, asterisks, daggers, braces, and
other common objects of the type-case—with which the Northumberland
Street printers set forth the details of a procession, or the
configuration of a country. There was in those days a world of
meaning—apart from libellous innuendo—in a row of asterisks; for did
they not signify a chain of mountains? And what Old Man Eloquent was
ever so vividly convincing as those serpentine brass rules that served
as the accepted hieroglyphics for rivers on type-set maps?_

_These were the beginnings of illustration in the “Pall Mall Budget”
when you first filled the editorial chair. The leaps and bounds
by which you came abreast of (and, indeed, overlook) the other
purveyors of illustrated news, hot and hot, I need not recount, nor
is there occasion here to allude to the events which led to what some
alliterative journalist has styled the Battle of the Budgets. Only
this: that if others have reaped where you have sown, why! ’twas ever

_For the rest, I must needs apologize to you for a breach of an
etiquette which demands that permission be first had and obtained
before a Dedication may be printed. To print an unauthorized tribute to
a private individual is wrong: when (as in the present case) an Editor
is concerned I am not sure that the wrong-doing halts anything before_
lèse majesté.

                             _Yours very truly,
                                        CHARLES G. HARPER._

        _May, 1894_.

[Illustration: PREFACE]

Everywhere to-day is the Illustrator (artist he may not always
be), for never was illustration so marketable as now; and the
correspondence-editors of the Sunday papers have at length found a new
outlet for the superfluous energies of their eager querists in advising
them to “go in” for black and white: as one might advise an applicant
to adventure upon a commercial enterprise of large issues and great
risks before the amount of his capital (if any) had been ascertained.

It is so very easy to make black marks upon white cardboard, is it not?
and not particularly difficult to seize upon the egregious mannerisms
of the accepted purveyors of “the picturesque”—that _cliché_ phrase,
battered nowadays out of all real meaning.

But for really serious art—personal, aggressive, definite and
instructed—one requires something more than a _penchant_, or the
stimulating impulsion of an empty pocket, or even the illusory
magnetism of the _vie bohême_ of the lady-novelist, whose artists still
wear velvet coats and aureoles of auburn hair, and marry the inevitable
heiress in the third volume. Not that one really wishes to be one of
those creatures, for the lady-novelists’ love-lorn embryonic Michael
Angelos are generally great cads; but this by the way!

What is wanted in the aspirant is the vocation: the feeling for beauty
of line and for decoration, and the powers both of idealizing and of
selection. Pen-drawing and allied methods are the chiefest means of
illustration at this day, and these qualities are essential to their
successful employ. Practitioners in pen-and-ink are already numerous
enough to give any new-comer pause before he adds himself to their
number, but certainly the greater number of them are merely journalists
without sense of style; mannerists only of a peculiarly vicious
parasitic type.

“But,” ask those correspondents, “does illustration pay?” “Yes,” says
that omniscient person, the Correspondence-Editor. Then those pixie-led
wayfarers through life, filled with an inordinate desire to draw, to
paint, to translate Nature on to canvas or cardboard (at a profit), set
about the staining of fair paper, the wasting of good ink, brushes,
pens, and all the materials with which the graphic arts are pursued,
and lo! just because the greater number of them set out, not with the
love of an art, but with the single idea of a paying investment of time
and labour—it does _not_ pay! Remuneration in their case is Latin for
three farthings.

Publishers and editors, it is said, can now, with the cheapness
of modern methods of reproduction as against the expense of
wood-engraving, afford to pay artists better because they pay engravers
less. Perhaps they can. But do they?

Pen-drawing in particular has, by reason of these things, almost come
to stand for exaggeration and a shameless license—a convention that
sees and renders everything in a manner flamboyantly quaint. But this
vein is being worked down to the bed-rock: it has plumbed its deepest
depth, and everything now points to a period of instructed sobriety
where now the untaught _abandon_ of these mannerists has rioted through
the pages of illustrated magazines and newspapers to a final disrepute.

Artists are now beginning to ask how they can dissociate themselves
from that merely manufacturing army of frantic draughtsmen who never,
or rarely, go beyond the exercise of pure line-work; and the widening
power of process gives them answer. Results striking and unhackneyed
are always to be obtained to-day by those who are not hag-ridden by
that purely Philistine ideal of the clear sharp line.

These pages are written as a plea for something else than the eternal
round of uninspired work. They contain suggestions and examples of
results obtained in striving to be at one with modern methods of
reproduction, and perhaps I may be permitted to hope that in this
direction they may be of some service.

                                        CHARLES G. HARPER.


  INTRODUCTORY                     1
  THE RISE OF AN ART               9
  PAPER                           78
  PENS                            92
  INKS                            96
  WASH DRAWINGS                  121
  STYLES AND MANNER              135


    ENGLISH PEN ARTISTS OF TO-DAY: Examples of their work,
        with some Criticisms and Appreciations. Super royal
        4to, £3 3_s._ net.

    THE BRIGHTON ROAD: Old Times and New on a Classic
        Highway. With 95 Illustrations by the Author and
        from old prints. Demy 8vo, 16_s._

    FROM PADDINGTON TO PENZANCE: The Record of a Summer
        Tramp. With 105 Illustrations by the Author. Demy
        8vo, 16_s._


[Illustration: List of Illvstrations]

  KENSINGTON PALACE. Photogravure                      _Frontispiece_
  THE HALL, BARNARD’S INN                                         25
  A WINDOW, CHEPSTOW CASTLE                                       29
  ON WHATMAN’S “NOT” PAPER                                        31
  FROM A DRAWING ON ALLONGÉ PAPER                             31, 32
  BOLT HEAD: A MISTY DAY. Bitumen process                         38
  BOLT HEAD: A MISTY DAY. Swelled gelatine process                39
  A NOTE AT GORRAN. Bitumen process                               43
  A NOTE AT GORRAN. Swelled gelatine process                      43
  CHARLWOOD. Swelled gelatine process                             45
  CHARLWOOD. Reproduced by Chefdeville                            45
  VIEW FROM THE TOWER BRIDGE WORKS. Bitumen process               48
       Sky revised by hand-work                                   49
  KENSINGTON PALACE                                               51
  SNODGRASS FARM                                                  53
  SUNSET, BLACK ROCK                                              55
  CHEPSTOW CASTLE                                                 61
  CLIFFORD’S INN: A FOGGY NIGHT                                   65
      PROCESS                                                     68
  THE VILLAGE STREET, TINTERN. NIGHT                              70
  LEEBOTWOOD                                                      71
  EXAMPLES OF DAY’S SHADING MEDIUMS                           75, 76
  CHURCHYARD CROSS, RAGLAN                                        76
  CANVAS-GRAIN CLAY-BOARD                                         84
  PLAIN DIAGONAL GRAIN                                            85
  PLAIN PERPENDICULAR GRAIN                                       85
     DRAWING                                                      87
     DRAWING                                                      88
  THE GATEHOUSE, MOYNES COURT                                    110
  PORTRAIT SKETCHES                                         118, 119
     NIGHT                                                       123
  CORFE RAILWAY STATION                                          125
  THE AMBULATORY, DORE ABBEY                                     127
     REPRODUCTION                                                133
      "           "     PORTRAIT, BY MR. BONNAT                  156
  TOWING PATH, ABINGDON, BY MR. DAVID MURRAY                     158
  FINIS                                                          161



Pen-drawing is the most spontaneous of the arts, and amongst the
applied crafts the most modern. The professional pen-draughtsman was
unknown but a few years since; fifteen years ago, or thereabouts,
he was an obscure individual, working at a poorly considered craft,
and handling was so seldom thought of that the illustrator who could
draw passably well was rarely troubled by his publisher on the score
of technique. For that which had deserved the name of technique was
dead, so far as illustration was concerned, and “process,” which was
presently to vivify it, was, although born already, but yet a sickly
child. To-day the illustrators are numerous beyond computation, and the
name of those who are impelled to the spoiling of good paper and the
wasting of much ink is indeed legion.

For uncounted years before the invention of photo-mechanical methods of
engraving, there had been practised a method of drawing with the pen,
which formed a pretty pastime wherewith to fleet the idle hours of the
gentlemanly amateur, and this was, for no discoverable reason, called

It is needless at this time to go into the derivatives of that word,
with the object of proving that the verb “to etch” means something
very different from drawing in ink with a pen; it should have, long
since, been demonstrated to everybody’s satisfaction that etching is
the art of drawing on metal with a point, and of biting in that drawing
with acids. But the manufacturers of pens long fostered the fallacy by
selling so-called etching-pens: probably they do so even now.

By whom pen-drawings were first called etchings none can say. Certainly
the two arts have little or nothing in common: the terms are not
interchangeable. Etching has its own especial characteristics, which
may, to an extent, be imitated with the pen, but the quality and
direction of line produced by a rigid steel point on metal are entirely
different from the lines drawn with a flexible nib upon paper. The line
produced by an etching needle has a uniform thickness, but with the
needle you can work in any imaginable direction upon the copper plate.
With a nib upon paper, a line varying in thickness with the pressure of
the hand results, but there is not that entirely free use of the hand
as with the etching point: you cannot with entire freedom draw from and
toward yourself.

The greatest exponents of pen-drawing have not entirely conquered
the normal inability of the pen to express the infinite delightful
waywardnesses of the etching-point. Again, the etched line is only less
sharp than the line made by the graver upon wood; the line drawn with
the pen upon the smoothest surface is ragged, viewed under a magnifying
glass. This, of course, is not a plea for a clean line in pen-work—that
is only the ideal of commercial draughtsmanship—but the man who can
produce such a line with the pen at will, who can overcome the tendency
to inflexible lines, has risen victorious over the stubbornness of a

The sketch-books, gilt-lettered and india-rubber banded, of the
bread-and-butter miss, and what one may be allowed, perhaps, to term
the “pre-process” amateur generally, give no hint of handling, no
foretaste of technique. They are barren of aught save ill-registered
facts, and afford no pleasure to the eye, which is the end, the
sensuous end, of all art. Rather did these artless folk almost
invariably seek to adventure beyond the province of the pen by strokes
infinitely little and microscopic, so that they might haply deceive the
eye by similarity to wood engravings or steel prints. But in those days
pen-drawing was only a pursuit; to-day it is a living art. Now, an art
is not merely a storehouse of facts, nor a moral influence. If it was
of these things, then the photographic camera would be all-powerful,
and all that would be left to do with the hands would be the production
of devotional pictures; and of those who produced them the best artist
would infallibly be him with a character the most noted for piety.
Art, to the contrary, is entirely independent of subject or morals.
It is not sociology, nor ever shall be; and those who practise an art
might be the veriest pariahs, and yet their works rank technically,
artistically, among the best. Art is handling _in excelsis_, and its
results lie properly in the pride of the eye and the satisfaction of
the æsthetic sense, though Mr. Ruskin would have it otherwise.

Is this the lashing of a dead horse, or thrice slaying the slain? No,
I think not. The moral and literary fallacies remain. Open an art
exhibition and give your exhibits technical, not subject titles, and
you shall hear a mighty howl, I promise you. Mr. Hamerton, too, has
recently found grudging occasion to say that, for artists, “it does
not appear that a literary education would be necessary in all cases.”
Whenever was it necessary? But then Mr. Hamerton is himself one of
those philosophic writers of a winning literary turn who can practise
an art in by no means a distinguished way, but who write dogma by
the yard and fumble over every illustration of their precepts. His
_Drawing and Engraving_—a reprint from his _Encyclopædia Britannica_
article—is worse than useless to the student of illustration, and
especially of pen-drawing, because Mr. Hamerton has long been left
behind the times. He knows little of the admirable modern methods
of reproducing line-work, but gives us etymologies of drawing and
historical dissertations on engraving, which we do not want. Of such
antiquated matter are even the current editions of encyclopædias
fashioned. The fact is, the bulk of art criticism is written by men
who can only string platitudes and stale studio slang together,
without beginning to understand principles. The appalling journalese
of much “art criticism” is hopelessly out of date; the slang of a
half-forgotten _atélier_ is the lingo of would-be criticism to-day.

It seems strange that a man who can write pretty _vers de société_ or
another who writes essays (essays, truly, in the philological sense),
should for such acquirements be amongst those to whom is delegated the
criticism of art in painting, drawing, or engraving; but so it is.
No one who has not surmounted the difficulties of a medium can truly
appreciate technique in it, whether that medium be words, or paint, or
ink. No one, for instance, would give a painter or a pen-artist the
chance to review a poet’s new volume of poems. You would not send a
plumber to pronounce upon a baker’s method of kneading his dough. No;
but an ordinary reporter is judged capable of criticizing a gallery
of pictures. You cannot get much artistic change out of his report,
nor from the articles on art written by a man whose only claim to the
standing of “art critic” is the possession of a second-class
certificate in drawing from the Science and Art Department. But of such
stuff are the neurotic Neros of the literary “art critique” fashioned,
and equally unauthorized by works are the lectures on illustration with
which the ingenious Mr. Blackburn at decent intervals tickles suburban
audiences or the amiable _dilettante_ of the Society of Arts into the
fallacious belief that they know all about it, “which,” to quote the
Euclidian formula, “is absurd.” Indeed, not even the most industrious,
the best-informed, nor the most catholic-minded man could ever lecture,
or write articles, or publish an illustrated critical work upon
illustration which should show an approximation to completeness in its
examples of styles and methods. The thing has been attempted, but will
never be done, because the quantity of work—even good work—that has
been produced is so vast, the styles so varied. The great storehouses
of the best pen-work are the magazines, and from them the eclectic will
gather a rich harvest. The _Century_ and _Harper’s_ are now the chief
of these. The _Magazine of Art_ and the _Portfolio_, which were used to
be filled with good original work, are now busied in providing such
_réchauffés_ as photographic blocks from paintings old and new, but
chiefly old, because they cost nothing for copyright. As for newspaper
work, the _Daily Graphic_ is creating a school of its own, which does
far better work than ever its New York namesake (now defunct) ever

Some beautiful and most suggestive pen-drawings are to be found in
the earlier numbers of _L’Art_ and many Parisian publications, such
as the _Courier Français_, _Vie Moderne_, _Paris Illustré_, and _La
Petit Journal pour Rire_. Many of the _Salon_ catalogues, too, contain
admirable examples.


Photo-mechanical processes of reproduction were invented by men who
sought, not to create an art, not to help art in any way, but only to
cheapen the cost of reproduction. “Line” processes—that is to say,
processes for the reproduction of pure line—though not the first
invented amongst modern methods, were the first to come into a state
of practical utility; though even then their results were so crude
that the artists whom necessity led to draw for them sank at once
to a deeper depth than ever they had sounded when the _fac-simile_
wood-cutter held them in bondage. They became the slaves of mechanical
limitations and chemical formulæ, which was a worse condition than
having been henchmen of a craftsman. So far as the æsthetic sense is
concerned, the process illustration of previous date to (say) 1880
might all be destroyed and no harm done, save, perhaps, the loss of
much evidence of a documentary character toward the history of early
days of processes.

There have been two great factors in their gradual
perfection—competition with the wood-engravers and of rival process
firms one with another, and, perhaps more important still, the
independency of a few artists who have found methods of drawing with
the pen, and have followed them despite the temporary limitations of
the process-man. The workmen have “drawn for process” in the worst and
most commercial sense of the term; they have set down their lines after
the hard-and-fast rules which were formulated for their guidance. For
years after the invention of zincography, artists who were induced to
make drawings for the new methods of engraving worked in a dull round
of routine; for in those days the process-man was not less, but more,
tyrannical than his predecessor, the wood-engraver; his yoke was, for a
time, harder to bear.

One was enjoined to make drawings with only the blackest of Indian ink,
upon Bristol-board, the thickest and smoothest and whitest that could
be obtained, and upon none other. It was impressed upon the draughtsman
that he should draw lines thick and wide apart and firm, and that
his drawings should be made with a view to, preferably, a reduction
in scale of one-third. Also that by no means should his lines run
together by any chance, except in the matter of a coarse and obvious
cross-hatch. And so, by reason of these things, the pen-work of that
time is become dreadful to look upon at this day. The man who then drew
with a view to reproduction squirmed on the very edge of his chair,
and with compressed lips, and his heart in his mouth, drew upon his
Bristol-board slowly and carefully, and with so heavy a hand, that
presently his wrist ached consumedly, and his drawing became stilted
in the extreme. Not yet was pen-drawing a profession, for few men had
learned these formulæ; and the zincography of that time made miserable
all them that were translated by it into something appreciably
different from their original work. Illustration, although already
sensibly increased in volume, was artistically at the lowest ebb. It
was a manufacture, an industry; but scarcely a profession, and most
certainly it had not yet become an art.

When technique in drawing for process began to appear as an individual
technique opposed to the old _fac-simile_ wood-engraving needs, it was
a handling entirely abominable and inartistic. If old-time drawing
for the wood-engravers was pursued in grooves of convention, working
for the zincographer proceeded in ruts. There have never been, before
or since, such horribly uninspired things produced as in the first
years of process-work in these islands. Such dull, scratchy, spotty,
wiry-looking prints resulted: they were, as now, produced in zinc,
and they proclaimed it unmistakably. Had not these new methods been
about one-fifth the cost of wood-engraving, they would have had no
chance whatever. But we are a commercial and an inartistic people, and
publishers, careless of appearance, welcomed any results that gave them
a typographic block at a fifth of its former cost.

Process, in its beginnings, was not a promising method of reproduction.
Men saw scarcely anything in it save cheap (and nasty) ways of
multiplying diagrams, and the bald and generally artless elevations of
new buildings issued from architects’ offices. But in course of time,
better blocks, with practice, became possible, and freer use of the
pen was obtained; although at every unhackneyed stroke the process-man
shrieked disaster. It is incalculable how much time has been wasted,
how many careers set back, by obedience to the hard-and-fast rules laid
down for the guidance of artists by the process-people of years since.
To those artists who, with an artistic recklessness of results entirely
admirable and praiseworthy, set down their work as they pleased,
we owe, more than to any others, the progress of process; by their
immediate martyrdom was our eventual salvation earned. And in the sure
and certain hope of a reproduction really and truly _fac-simile_, the
draughtsman in the medium of pen-and-ink is to-day become a technician
of a peculiar subtlety.

To-day, with the exercise of knowledge and discrimination, drawings
the most difficult of reproduction may be rendered faithfully; it is
a matter only of choice of processes. But in the mass of reproduction
at this time, this knowledge, this discrimination, are often seen to
be lacking. It is a matter of commerce, of course, for a publisher, an
editor, to send off originals in bulk to one firm, and to await from
one source the resulting blocks. But unknowing, or reckless of their
individual merits and needs, our typical editor has thus consigned some
drawings to an unkind fate. There are many processes even for the
reproduction of line, and drawings of varying characteristics are
better reproduced by different methods; they should each be sent for
reproduction on its own merits.

It was in 1884 that there began to arise quite a number of original
styles in pen-work, and then this new profession was by way of becoming
an art. You will not find any English-printed book or magazine
before this date showing a sign of this new art, but now it arose
suddenly, and at once became an irresponsible, unreasoning welter of
ill-considered mannerisms. Ever since 1884, until within the last year
or two, pen-draughtsmen have rioted through every conceivable and
inconceivable vagary of manner. The artists who by force of artistry
and character have helped to spur on the process-man against his will,
and have worked with little or no heed to the shortcomings of his
science, have freed the hands of a dreadful rabble that has revelled
merely in eccentricity. Thus has liberty for a space meant a licence
so wild that to-day it has become quite refreshing to turn back to the
sobriety of the old illustrators of from thirty to forty years ago, who
drew for the _fac-simile_ wood-engraver.

From 1857, through the ’60’s, and on to 1875, when it finally shredded
out, there existed a fine convention in drawing for illustration and
the wood-engraver. Among the foremost exponents of it were Millais,
Sandys, Charles Green, Robert Barnes, Simeon Solomon, Mahony, J. D.
Watson, and J. D. Linton. Pinwell and Fred Walker, too, produced
excellent work in this manner, before they untimely died.

The _Sunday Magazine_, _Once a Week_, _Good Words_, _Cornhill_, the
first two years of the _Graphic_, and, where the drawings have not been
drawn down to their humourous legends, the volumes of _Punch_ during
this period, are a veritable storehouse of beautiful examples of this
peculiarly English school. It was a convention that grew out of the
wood-engraver’s imposed limits, and they became transcended by the art
of the young artists of that day.

There is a certain sweetness and grace in those old illustrations
that seems to increase with the widening of that gulf between our
day and the day of their production. It is not for the sake of their
draughtsmanship alone (though that is excellent), but chiefly for their
technical qualities, and their fine character-drawing, that those
monumental achievements in illustration appeal so strongly to the
artistic eye to-day. We have been accustomed during these last years
to the stress of mannerism, the _bravura_ treatment of imported art,
bringing with it strange atmospheres which have nothing in common with
our duller skies, and, truth to tell, we want a change. Now, we might
do much worse than hark back to the ’60’s, and study the peculiar style
brought about by the needs of the wood-engraver, but transformed into
an admirable school by men who wrought their trammels into a convention
so great that it cannot fail, some day, to be revived.

It is greatly to be deplored that we have not left to us the original
drawings of that time and these men. In the majority of cases,
and through a long series of years, the drawings from which these
_fac-simile_ wood-engravings were made were drawn by the artists on
the wood block, and engraved, so that we have left to us only the
more or less successful engraver’s imitation of the artists’ original
line-work. But when these blocks were the work of the Dalziels, or of
Swain, we may generally take them as a close approximation to the
original drawing. Pen and pencil both were used upon the wood blocks:
some of these are to be seen at the South Kensington Museum, with the
original drawings upon them still uncut, photography having in the mean
while become applied to the use of transferring a drawing from paper to
the wood surface.

Unless you have practised etching on copper, in which you have to draw
upon the plate in reverse, you can have little idea of the relief
experienced by the artists of thirty years ago, when the necessity for
drawing in reverse upon the wood was obviated.

Now, I am not going to say that with pen and ink and
process-reproduction you could obtain the sweetness of the
wood-engraved line, but something of it should be possible, and
the dignified, almost classic, reserve and repose of this style of
draughtsmanship could be, in great measure, brought back to help
assuage the worry of the ultra-clever pen-work of to-day, and to form
a grateful relief from that peculiarly modern vice in illustration, of
“making a hole in the page.”

The great difficulty that would lie in the way of such a revival would
be that those who would attempt it would need to be good draughtsmen;
and of these there are not many. No tricks nor flashy treatment hid
bad drawing in this technique, as in much of the slap-dashiness of
to-day. And not only would sound draughtsmanship be essential, but also
characterization of a peculiarly well-seen and graphic description. The
illustrator of a generation ago worked under tremendous disadvantages.
“Phiz” etched his inimitable illustrations of Dickens upon steel with
all the attendant drawbacks of working in reverse, yet he would be
a bold man or reckless who should decry him. He was, at his best,
greater beyond comparison than THE Cruickshank—George, in the
forefront of that artistic trinity—and he reached his highest point in
the delightful composition of “Captain Cuttle consoles his Friend,” in
_Dombey and Son_. Composition and characterization are beyond anything
done before or since. It is distinctly, obviously, great, and it fits
the author and his story like—like a glove. One cannot find a newer
and better simile than that for good fitting. And (not to criticize
modern work severely _because_ it is modern) the greater bulk of
illustration to-day fits the stories it professes to elucidate like a
Strand tailor.

There are facilities now for buying electrotypes from magazines and
illustrated periodicals, by which engravings that have already served
one turn in illustrating a story can be purchased, to do duty again
in illustrating another; and this is a practice very widely prevalent
to-day. And why can this be so readily done? The answer is near to
seek. It is because illustration is become so characterless that it is
so readily interchangeable. Perhaps it may be sought to lay the blame
upon the author; and certainly there is not at this time so ready a
field for character-drawing as Dickens presented. But I have not seen
any illustrations to Mr. Hardy’s tales, nor to Mr. Stevenson’s, that
realize the excellently well-shown types in their works.

If you should chance to see any early volumes (say from 1859 to 1863)
of _Once a Week_ for sale, secure them: they should be the cherished
possessions of every black and white artist. After this date their
quality fell off. Charles Keene contributed to _Once a Week_ some
of his best work, and the Mr. Millais of that date in line is more
interesting than the Sir John Millais of to-day in paint. There is, in
especial, a beautiful drawing by him, an illustration to the
_Grandmother’s Apology_, in the volume for 1859, page 40. But, frankly,
it is a mistake to instance one illustration where so very many
are monumental productions. Fred Walker contributed many exquisite
drawings; Mr. Whistler, few enough to make us ardently wish there were
more; and the same may be said of Mr. Sandys’ decorative work—his
_Rosamond, Queen of the Lombards_, his _Yet once more let the Organ
play_, his _King Warwulf_, _Harald Harfagr_, or _The Old Chartist_.
These things are a delight: the artist’s work so insistently good, the
quality of the engraver’s lines so wonderfully fine.

For all the talk and pother about illustration, there is nothing to-day
that comes within miles of the work done in, say, 1862-1863 for _Once
a Week_. It would be difficult to over-praise or to over-estimate
the value of this fine period. It was the period of the abominable
crinoline; but even that hideous fashion was transfigured by the
artistry of these men. That is evident in the beautiful drawing,
_If_, contributed by Sandys to the _Argosy_ for 1863, in which the
grandly flowing lines of the dress show what may be done with the most
unpromising material.

The most interesting drawings in the _Cornhill Magazine_ range from
1863 to 1867. Especially noteworthy are the illustrations by Fred
Walker—_Maladetta_, May, 1863, page 621, and _Out of the Valley of
the Shadow_, January, 1867, page 75. If you compare the first of these
with the little pen-drawing by Charles Green, reproduced by process
in _Harper’s Magazine_, May, 1891, page 894, entitled, “Give me those
letters,” you will see how Mr. Green’s hand has retained the old
technique he and his brother illustrators learnt in drawing for the
wood-engraver, and you will observe how well that old handling looks,
and how admirably it reproduces in the process-work of to-day. Two
other most successful wood blocks from the _Cornhill Magazine_ may be
noted—_Mother’s Guineas_, by Charles Keene, July, 1864, and _Molly’s
New Bonnet_, August, 1864, by Mr. Du Maurier.


Processes, at first chiefly of the heliogravure or photogravure
variety—processes, that is to say, of the intaglio or plate-printing
description, printed in the same way as etchings and mezzotints, from
dots and lines sunken in a metal plate instead of standing out in
relief—date back almost to the invention of photography in 1834; and
all modern processes of reproducing drawings have a photographic basis.
Even at that time it was demonstrated that a glass negative could
be used to reproduce the photographic image as an etched plate that
would print in the manner of a mezzotint. Mr. H. Fox-Talbot, to whom
belongs, equally with Daguerre, the invention of photography, was the
first to show this. He devised an etched silver plate that reproduced a
photograph direct.

Photo-relief, or type-printing, blocks date from such comparatively
recent times as 1860, when the _Photographic Journal_ showed an
illustration printed from a block by the Pretsch process.

At this present time there are three methods of primary importance for
the reproduction of line drawings—

    The swelled gelatine process,
    The albumen process,
    The bitumen process.

The first of these three processes is the most expensive, and it has
not so great a vogue as the less costly methods, which are employed for
the illustration of journals or publications that do not rely chiefly
upon the excellence of their work. It is employed almost exclusively by
Messrs. A. and C. Dawson in this country, and it is in all essentials
identical with the old Pretsch process that first saw the light
thirty-three years ago.

Acids do not enter into the practice of it at all. The procedure is
briefly thus: A good dense negative is taken of the drawing to be
reproduced to the size required. The glass plate is then placed in
perfect contact with gelatine sensitized by an admixture of bichromate
of potassium to the action of light. Placed in water, the gelatine thus
printed upon from the negative, swells, excepting those portions that
have received the image of the reduced drawing. These are now become
sunken, and form a suitable matrix for electrotyping into. Copper
is then deposited by electro-deposition. The copper skin receives a
backing of type-metal, and is mounted on wood to the height of type,
and the block, ready for printing, is completed.

This process gives peculiar advantages in the reproduction of
pen-drawings made with greyed or diluted inks. The photographic
negative reproduces, of course, the varying intensities of such work
with the most absolute accuracy, and they are repeated, with scarcely
less fidelity, by the gelatine matrix. Pencil marks and pen-drawings
with a slight admixture of pencil come excellently well by this method.

Every pen-draughtsman who sketches from nature knows how, in re-drawing
from his pencil sketches, the feeling and sympathy of his work are
lost, wholly or in part; but if the finished pen-drawing is made over
the original pencil sketch and the pencilling retained, the effect is
generally a revelation. It is in these cases that the swelled gelatine
process gives the best results.

[Illustration: 4¾ × 7½. THE HALL, BARNARD’S INN.

_Drawing in pale Indian ink on HP Whatman paper. Drawn without
knowledge of process and reproduced by the swelled gelatine method._]

This example (_The Hall, Barnard’s Inn_) of a pen-drawing not made for
reproduction by process was made years ago. Now reproduced, it shows
that almost everything is possible to mechanical reproduction to-day.
This drawing, worked upon with never a thought or idea or knowledge of
process, comes every whit as well as if it had been drawn scrupulously
to that end. It is all pen-work, save the outline around it and the
signature, and they are in black chalk. The reduction from the original
is only three-quarters of an inch across, and the reproduction is in
every respect exact. Of course it is only swelled gelatine that could
perform this feat; but by that process it is clear that you get results
at once sympathetic and faithful, without the necessity of caring
overmuch about the purely mechanical drudgery of learning a convention
in pen and ink that shall be suitable for the etched processes. That
convention has been wrought—it may not be said by tears and blood,
but certainly with prodigious labour—by the masters of the art of
pen-drawing into something artistic and pleasing to the eye, while it
satisfies photographic and chemical needs. But here is a process that
demands no previous training in drawing for reproduction, and leaves
the artist unfettered. True, it opens a vista of easy reproduction
to the amateur, which is a thing terrible to think upon; but, on the
other hand, to it we owe some delightful reproductions of “painters’”
pen-drawings that make the earlier numbers of the illustrated
exhibition catalogues worth having.

[Illustration: 4½ × 8. A WINDOW, CHEPSTOW CASTLE.

_Drawing in Conté crayon on rough paper._]

The albumen process is perhaps the more widely used of the three.
By it the vast majority of the blocks used in journalistic work are
made. It is credibly reported that one firm alone delivers annually
sixty-three thousand blocks made by this process, which (it will thus
be seen) is particularly suited to reproduction of the most instant and
straight-away nature. It is also the cheapest method of reproduction,
which goes far toward explaining that gigantic output just quoted.
But, on the other hand, the albumen process in the hands of an artist
in reproduction (as, for instance, M. Chefdeville) is capable of the
most sympathetic results. It gives a softer, more velvety line than one
would think possible, a line of a different character entirely from
the clear, cold, sharp, and formal line characteristic of processes
in which bitumen is used. These two methods (albumen and bitumen) are
incapable of reproducing scarcely anything in _fac-simile_ but pure
line-work; pencil marks or greyed ink are either omitted or exaggerated
to extremity, and they can only be corrected by the subsequent use of
the graver upon the block. But black chalk or Conté crayon used upon
slightly granulated drawing-papers, either by themselves or mixed with
pen-work, come readily enough and help greatly to reinforce a sketch.
This sketch of _A Window, Chepstow Castle_, was made with a Conté
crayon. Unfortunately, these materials smear very easily, and have to
be fixed before they can be trusted to the photo-engraver with perfect
safety. Drawings made in this way may be fixed with a solution composed
of gum mastic and methylated spirits of wine: one part of the former to
seven parts of the latter. This fixing solution is best applied with a
spray apparatus, as sold by chemists. But better than crayons, chalks,
or charcoals are the lithographic chalks now coming somewhat into
vogue. They have the one inestimable advantage of fixity, and cannot be
readily smeared, even with intent. They are not fit for use upon
smooth Bristol-board or glazed paper, but find their best mediums in
HP and “not” makes of drawing-paper, and in the grained “scratch-out”
cardboards, of which more hereafter. They give greater depth of colour
than lead pencil, and reproduce more surely; and the drawings worked up
with them readily stand as much reduction as an ordinary pen-drawing.
The No. 1 Lemercier is the best variety of lithographic chalks for
this admixture; it is harder than others, and can be better sharpened
to a fine point. For detail it is to be used very sparingly or not at
all, because it is incapable of producing a delicate line; but for
giving force, for instance, to a drawing of crumbling walls, or to
an impressionist sketch of landscape, it is invaluable. The effects
produced by working with a No. 1 Lemercier litho-chalk are shown here.
The first example was drawn upon Whatman’s “not” paper, which gives a
fine, bold granulation. The two remaining examples are from sketches on
Allongé paper, a fine-grained charcoal paper of French make.

[Illustration: ON WHATMAN’S “NOT” PAPER (6½ × 4½).]

[Illustration: ON ALLONGÉ PAPER, RIGHT SIDE (6¼ × 4½).]


It is also worth knowing that a good grained drawing may be made with
litho-chalk, by taking a piece of dull-surfaced paper, like the kind
generally used for type-writing purposes, pinning it tightly upon
glass- or sand-paper and then working upon it, keeping it always in
contact with the rough sand-paper underneath. A canvas-grain may be
obtained by using the cover of a canvas-bound book in the same way.

Both the albumen and the bitumen processes are practised with the
aid of acids upon zinc. In the first named the zinc plate is coated
with a ground composed of a solution of white of egg and bichromate
of ammonia, soluble in cold water. A reversed photographic negative
is taken of the drawing and placed in contact with the prepared zinc
plate in a specially constructed printing-frame. When the drawing
is sufficiently printed upon this albumen surface, the plate is
rolled over with a roller charged with printing-ink thinned down with
turpentine, and then, when this inking has been completed, the plate
is carefully rubbed in cold water until the inked albumen has been
rubbed off it, excepting those parts where the drawing appears. The
lines composing the drawing remain fixed upon the plate, the peculiar
property of the sensitized albumen rendering the lines that have been
exposed to the action of light insoluble. The zinc plate is then dried
and sponged with gum; dried again, and then the coating of gum washed
off, and then inked again. The plate, now thoroughly prepared, is
placed in the first etching bath, a rocking vessel filled with
much-diluted nitric acid. There are generally three etchings performed
upon a zinc block, each successive bath being of progressively stronger
acid; and between these baths the plate is gummed, and powdered with
resin, and warmed over a gas flame until the printing-ink and the
half-melted resin run down the sides of the lines already partly
etched; the object of these careful stages being to prevent what is
technically termed “under-etching”—that is to say, the production of a
relief line, whose section would be thus: [Upside down triangle] instead
of [Tent shape, open bottom]. The result in the printing of an
under-etched block would be that the lines would either break or wear
down to nothingness, whereas a block showing the second section would
grow stronger and the old lines thicker with prolonged use. The
section of a wood engraving is according to this second diagram.

In the case of the bitumen process, the photograph is taken as before,
the negative placed upon the zinc plate in the same way, and the image
printed upon the bitumen. When this has been done, the plate is flooded
with turpentine, and all the bitumen dissolved away, with the exception
of that upon the image. The subsequent proceedings are as in the case
of the albumen process, and need not be recounted.

It will be seen (if this outline can be followed) that the bitumen
process differs from the albumen only in the composition of the
ground (as an etcher would term it), but the quality of line is very
different. The zinc plates used are cut from polished sheets of the
metal, from one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch in thickness.

A well-etched block should feel sharp yet smooth to the thumb and
fingers, as if it were cut. A badly etched or over-etched block has
an altogether different feel: scratchy, and repulsive to the touch.
Frequently it happens that by carelessness or mischance the process-man
will over-etch a block; that is to say, he will allow it to remain in
the acid-bath a minute or so too long, so that the upstanding lines
become partly eaten away by the fluid. The result, when printed, is a
wretched ghost of the original drawing. An over-etched block, or a good
block in which the lines appear too thin and the reproduction in
consequence weak, can be remedied in degree by being rubbed down
with oilstone. This, if the lines are not under-etched, thickens the
upstanding metal and produces a heavier print. But some of the smaller
process firms have an ingenious, if none too honest, practice of
pulling a proof from the _unetched_ plate, and sending it along with
the defective block. This can readily be done by inking up the image
with a roller before printing, and then passing the thin plate of metal
through a lithographic press, or through a transfer press, such as is
to be found in every process establishment. Of course the print thus
secured is a perfect replica in little of the original drawing, and
looks eminently satisfactory. One can generally identify these proofs
before etching by their backs, which have, of course, not the slightest
marks of the pressure usually to be discerned upon even the most
carefully prepared proofs of finished blocks. The surface of a zinc
block sometimes becomes oxidized by the acid used in etching not having
been thoroughly washed off. This may occur at once if the acid is
strong, and then it generally happens that the block is irretrievably
ruined; but if oxidation occurs after some time, it is generally
superficial, and can be rubbed down. The process of oxidation begins
with an efflorescence, which may be best rubbed down with a thick stick
of charcoal, broken across the grain. But zinc blocks are frequently
ruined by carelessness in the printing-office after printing. When the
printing has been done it is customary to clean type and blocks from
the printing-ink by scrubbing them with a brush dipped in what printers
call “lye”—that is, a solution of pearl-ash—which, although it does
not injure the leaden types, is apt to corrode the zinc of which most
process blocks are made, if they are not carefully and immediately
washed in water and dried. A block with its surface destroyed in this
manner prints miserably, with a fuzzy appearance. The easiest way of
protecting blocks from becoming oxidized is to allow the printing-ink
to remain on them, or if you have none, rub them over with tallow.

[Illustration: 12½ × 9. BOLT HEAD: A MISTY DAY.

_Pen and pencil drawing, reproduced by the bitumen process._]

[Illustration: 12½ × 9. BOLT HEAD: A MISTY DAY.

_Pen and pencil drawing, reproduced by the swelled gelatine

Examples will now be shown of the varying results obtainable from the
same drawings by different processes.

The drawing representing a _Misty Day at Bolt Head_ was made upon
common rough paper, such as is usually found in sailors’ log-books; in
fact, it was a log-book the present writer used during the greater part
of a tour in Devon, nothing else being obtainable in those parts save
the cloth-bound, gold-lettered sketch-books whose porterage convicts
one at once of amateurishness. And here let me say that a sailor’s
log-book, though decidedly an unconventional medium for sketching in,
seems to be entirely admirable. The paper takes pencil excellently
well, and the faint blue parallel lines with which the pages are ruled
need bother no one; they will not (being blue) reproduce. To save
the freshness of the impression, the sketch was lightly finished in
ink, and sent for reproduction uncleaned. The illustration shows the
result. It is an example of the bitumen process, whose original sin
of exaggerating all the pencil marks which it has been good enough to
reproduce at all is partly cloaked by the intervention of hand-work all
over the block. You can see how continually the graver has been put
through the lines to produce a greyness, yet how unsatisfactory the

The drawing was now sent for reproduction by the swelled gelatine
process. The result is a much more satisfactory block. Everything that
the original contained has been reproduced. The sullen blacknesses of
the pinnacled rocks are nothing extenuated, as they were in the first
example, where they seem comparatively insignificant, and the technical
qualities of pen and pencil are retained throughout, and can readily
be identified. The same remarks apply even more strongly to the small
blocks from the _Note at Gorran_.

[Illustration: _Pen and pencil drawing, reproduced by bitumen

[Illustration: 13¼ × 9½. A NOTE AT GORRAN.

_Pen and pencil drawing, reproduced by swelled gelatine process._]

But such a pure pen-drawing as that of _Charlwood_, shown here in
blocks by (1) Messrs. Dawson’s swelled gelatine process, and (2) by Mr.
Chefdeville’s sympathetic handling of the albumen process, would have
come almost equally well by bitumen, or by an ordinary practitioner’s
treatment of albumen. It offered no technical difficulties, and there
is exceedingly little to choose between these two blocks. Careful
examination would show that a very slight thickening of line had taken
place throughout the block by the gelatine method, and this must ever
be the distinguishing difference between that process and those in
which acids are used to eat away the metal of the block—that the
gelatine renders at its best every jot and tittle of a drawing, and
would by the nature of the process rather exaggerate than diminish; and
that in those processes in which acids play a part, the process-man
must be ever watchful lest his zinc plate be “over-etched”—lest the
upstanding metal lines be eaten away to a scratchy travesty of the
original drawing. But you will see that although the lines in the
swelled gelatine _Charlwood_ are appreciably thicker than in its
albumen fellow, yet the latter prints darker. The explanation is in the
metals of which the two blocks are composed. Zinc prints more heavily
than copper.

[Illustration: _Pen-drawing reproduced by swelled gelatine

[Illustration: 8¼ × 6¼.

_Pen-drawing reproduced by Chefdeville._]

It should not be forgotten that, to-day, hand-work upon process-blocks
is become very usual. To paraphrase a well-worn political catch-phrase,
the old methods have been called in to redress the vagaries of the
new: the graver has been retained to correct the crudities of the
rocking-bath. To be less cryptic, the graver is used nowadays to
tone down the harsh and ragged edges of the etched zinc. Here is an
illustration that will convey the idea to perfection. Here is, in this
_View from the Tower Bridge Works_, a zincographic block, grounded
with bitumen and etched by the aid of acids. The original drawing was
made upon Bristol-board, with Stephens’ ebony stain, and an F nib of
Mitchell’s make. The size of that drawing was twelve and a half inches
across; the sky drawn in with much elaboration. A first proof showed a
sky harsh and wanting in aërial perspective. A graver was put through
it, cutting up the lines into dots, and thus putting the sky into
proper relation with the rest of the picture.

Another interesting and suggestive comparison is between photogravure,
or heliogravure, as it is sometimes called, and type-printing processes
for the reproduction of line. The frontispiece to this volume is a
heliogravure plate by Dujardin, of Paris, from a pen-drawing that
offered no obstacles to adequate reproduction by the bitumen process.
In fact, you see it here, reproduced in that way, and of the same size.
The copper intaglio plate is in every way superior to the relief block,
as might have been expected. The hardness of the latter method gives
way, in the heliogravure plate, to a delightful softness, even when the
plate is clean-wiped and printed in as bald and artless a fashion as
a tradesman’s business card; but now it is printed with care and with
the _retroussage_ that is generally the meed of the etching, you could
not have distinguished it _from_ an etching had you not been told its

[Illustration: 12½ × 9. VIEW FROM THE TOWER BRIDGE WORKS.

_Bitumen process._]

[Illustration: 12½ × 9. VIEW FROM THE TOWER BRIDGE WORKS.

_Bitumen process. Sky revised by hand-work._]

The procedure in making a heliogravure is in this wise:—A copper
plate, similar to the kind used by etchers, receives a ground of
bichromatized bitumen. A photograph is taken of the drawing to be
reproduced, and from the negative thus obtained a _positive_ is made.
The positive, in reverse, is placed upon the grounded plate and printed
upon it. The bitumen which has been printed upon by the action of light
is thus rendered wholly insoluble, and the image of the drawing remains
the only soluble portion of the ground. The plate is then treated with
turpentine, and the soluble lines thus dissolved. Follows then the
ordinary etching procedure. This is a more simple and ready process
than the making of a relief block. It is, however, more expensive to
commission, but then expense never is any criterion of original cost.
The printing, though, is a heavy item, because, equally with etchings
or mezzotints, it must be printed upon a copper-plate press, and
this involves the cleaning and the re-inking of the plate with every

The subject which the present plate bears does not show the utmost
capabilities of the heliogravure. It was chosen as a fair example
to show the difference between two methods without straining the
limitations of the relief block. But if the drawing had been most
carefully graduated in intensity from the deepest black to the palest
brown, the copper plate would have shown everything with perfect
ease. Large editions of these plates are not to be printed without
injury, because the constant wiping of the soft copper wears down the
surface. But to obviate this defect a process of _acierage_ has been
invented, by which a coating of iron is electrically deposited upon the
surface of the plate, rendering it, practically, as durable as a steel

[Illustration: 11½ × 7½. KENSINGTON PALACE.

_Bitumen process._]

It is by experiments we learn to achieve distinction; by immediate
failure that we rise to ultimate success; and ofttimes by pure chance
that we discover in these days some new trick of method by which
process shall do for the illustrator something it has not done before.
There is still, no doubt, in the memory of many, that musty anecdote of
the painter who, fumbling over the proper rendering of foam, applied
by some accident a sponge to the wet paint, and lo! there, by happy
chance, was the foam which had before been like nothing so much as wool.

[Illustration: SNODGRASS FARM.

_From a drawing by Harry Fenn. An example of splatter-work._]

In the same way, I suppose, some draughtsman discovered splatter-work.
He may readily be imagined, prior to this lucky chance, painfully
stippling little dots with his pen; pin-points of ink stilted and
formal in effect when compared with the peculiarly informal concourse
of spots produced by taking a small, stiff-bristled brush (say a
toothbrush), inking it, and then, holding the bristles downwards and
inclining toward the drawing, more or less vigorously stroking the inky
bristles _towards_ one with a match-stick. Holding the brush thus, and
stroking it in this way, the bristles send a shower of ink spots upon
the drawing. Of course this trick requires an extended practice before
it can be performed in workmanlike fashion, and even then the parts not
required to be splattered have to be carefully covered with cut-paper
masks. [_Mem._—To use a fixed ink for drawings on which you intend to
splatter, because it is extremely probable that you will require to
paint some portions out with Chinese white, and Chinese white upon any
inks that are not fixed is the despair of the draughtsman.] Here is
an excellent example of splatter. It is by that resourceful American
draughtsman, Harry Fenn. Indeed, the greatest exponents of this method
are Americans: few men in this country have rendered it with any
frequency, or with much advantage. I have essayed its use to aid this
sunset view of _Black Rock_, and to me it seems to come well. But the
finer spots are very difficult of reproduction; some are lost here.
There is a most ingenious contrivance, an American notion, I believe,
for the better application of splatter. It is called the air-brush, and
it consists of a tube filled with ink, and fitted with a description of
nozzle through which the ink is projected on to paper by a pneumatic
arrangement worked by the artist by means of a treadle. You aim the
affair at your drawing, work your treadle, and the trick is done. The
splatter is remarkably fine and equable, and its intensity can be
regulated by the distance at which the nozzle is held from the drawing.
The greater advantage, however, in the use of the air-brush would seem
to lie with the lithographic draughtsmen, who have to cover immense
areas of work.

[Illustration: 6 × 8¼. SUNSET, BLACK ROCK.


Here follows an experiment with diluted inks: the drawing made upon
HP Whatman with all manner of nibs. It is all pen-work, worked with
black stain, and with writing ink watered down to different values.
This is an attempt to render as truthfully as possible (and as
unconventionally) the sunset shine and shadow of a lonely shore, blown
upon with the wild winds of the Channel. A little stream, overgrown
with bents and waving rushes, flows between a break in the low cliffs
and loses itself in the sands. The sun sets behind the ruined house,
and between it and the foreground is a clump of storm-bent trees,
constrained to their uneasy inward pose not by present breezes, but to
this shrinking habit of growth by long-continued stress of weather.
The block is by Gillot, of Paris, who was asked to get the appearance
of the original drawing in a line-block. This he has not altogether
succeeded in doing: perhaps it was impossible; but the _feeling_ is
here. It is a line-block, rouletted all over in the attempt to get
the effect produced by watered inks. The roulettes, by which these
greynesses are produced, are peculiar instruments, consisting of
infinitesimal wheels of hard steel whose edges are fashioned into
microscopically small points or facets. Mounted at the end of a stick
more nearly resembling a penholder than anything else, the wheel is
driven along (and into) the surface of the metal by pressure, making
small indentations in it. There are varieties of roulettes, the
differences between them lying in the patterns of the projections from
the wheel. The varieties in the texture of rouletting seen in this
print are thus explained.


_Block touched up by hand and freely rouletted._]

Now come some experiments in mixtures. The mixed drawing has many
possibilities of artistic expression, and here are some essays in
mixtures, harnessed to tentative employments of process.

First is this experiment in pen and pencil reproduced in half-tone.
It is a view of _Chepstow Castle_—that really picturesque old border
fortress—from across the river Wye, a river that comes rushing down
from the uplands with an impetuous current full of swirls and eddies.
The town of Chepstow lies at the back, represented in this drawing
only by its lights. The huts and sheds that straggle down to the
waterside, and the rotting pier, where small vessels load and unload
insignificant cargoes, are commonplace enough, but they go to make a
fine composition; and the last sunburst in the evening sky, the stars
already brilliant, and the white gleams from the hurrying river, are
immensely valuable, and things of joy to the practitioner in black and
white. Rain had fallen during the day, and, when the present writer sat
down to sketch, still lent a fine impending juicy air to the scene that
seemed incapable of adequate translation into pure line; therefore,
upon the pencil sketch was added pen-work, and to that more pencil,
and, when finished, the drawing was sent to be processed, with special
instructions that the white spaces in the sky should be preserved,
together with those on the buildings, but that all else might acquire
the light grey tint which the half-tone always gives, as of a drawing
made upon paper of a silvery grey. In the result you can see this
purely arbitrary, but delightful, ground tint everywhere; it gives
absolutely the appearance of a drawing made upon tinted cardboard, but,
truly, the only paper employed was a common, rough make, that would be
despised of the lordly amateur. Here you see the half-tone process on
its best behaviour, and I think it has secured a very notable result.

[Illustration: 11¾ × 8¾. CHEPSTOW CASTLE.

_Drawing in pen and ink and pencil made on rough paper. Reproduced by
half-tone process._]

Here is another experiment, _Clifford’s Inn: a Foggy Night_—a mixture
of pen and ink and crayon worked upon with a stump, and then lightly
brushed over with a damp, not a full, brush; the lights in the windows
and the reflections taken out with the point of an eraser.

It should be said that in drawing thus for half-tone reproduction the
drawing should be made much more emphatic than the print is intended
to appear; that is to say, the deepest shadows should be given an
additional depth, and the fainter shading should be a shade lighter
than you would give to a drawing not made with a view to publication.
If these points are not borne in mind, the result is apt to be flat and

If a half-tone block exhibits these disagreeable peculiarities, high
lights can always be created by the aid of a chisel used upon the metal
surface of the block. The more important process firms generally employ
a staff of competent engravers, who, now that wood engraving is less
widely used, have turned their attention to just this kind of work—the
correcting of process-blocks. The artist has but to mark his proof with
the corrections and alterations he requires. The two illustrations
shown on page 68, from different states of the same block, give a
notion of correcting the flatness of half-tone. The second block shows
a good deal of retouching in the lights taken out upon the paper and
the jug, and in the hatching upon the drinking-horn.

[Illustration: 9½ × 6¾. CLIFFORD’S INN: A FOGGY NIGHT.

_Drawn in pen and ink and crayon, and brushed over. Reproduced by
half-tone process, medium grain._]

Half-tone processes are practised in much the same way as the albumen
and bitumen line methods already described, in so far as that they are
worked with acids and upon zinc or copper. At first these half-tone
blocks were made in zinc, but recently some reproductive firms have
preferred to use copper. Messrs. Waterlow and Sons, in this country,
generally employ copper for half-tone blocks from drawings or
photographs. Copper prints a softer and more sympathetic line, and
does not accumulate dirt so readily as zinc. All the half-tone blocks
in this volume are in copper. By these processes the photographs
that one sees reproduced direct from nature appear in print without
the aid of the artist. They are often referred to as the Meisenbach
process, because the Meisenbach Company was amongst the first to use
these methods in this country. The essential difference in their
working is that there is a ruled screen of glass interposed between
the drawing or object to be photographed and the negative. Generally a
screen of glass is closely ruled with lines crossing at right angles,
and etched with hydrofluoric acid. Into the grooves thus produced,
printing-ink is rubbed. The result is a close network of black lines
upon glass. This screen, interposed between the sensitized plate
in the camera and the object to be photographed, produces upon the
negative the criss-cross appearance we see in the ultimate picture.
In the half-tone reproductions by Angerer and Göschl, of Vienna, this
appearance is singularly varied. The screen used by them is said to be
made from white silk of the gauziest description, hung before a wall
covered with black velvet in such a manner that the blackness of the
velvet can be seen and photographed through the silken film. A negative
is made, and from it a positive is produced, which exhibits a curiously
varied arrangement of dots and meshes. The positive is used in the same
way as the ruled-glass screens.


The network characteristic of half-tone relief blocks can be made fine,
or medium, or coarse, as required. The fine-grained blocks are used for
careful book and magazine printing, and the medium-grained for printing
in the better illustrated weeklies; the coarse-grained are used for
rougher printing, but still are nearly always too fine for newspaper
work. The _Daily Graphic_, however, has solved the problem of printing
them sufficiently well for the picture to be discerned. Beyond this the
rotary steam-printing press has not yet advanced.

In appearance somewhat similar to a half-tone block, but with the
tint differently applied, is the illustration of _The Village Street,
Tintern: Night_. Here is a pure pen-drawing, scratched and scribbled
to blackness without much care for finesse, the great reduction and
the tint being reckoned upon to assuage all angularities. The original
drawing was then lightly scribbled over with blue pencil to indicate to
the process-man that a mechanical tint was required to be applied upon
the block, and word was specially sent that the tint was to be squarely
cut, not vignetted. The result seems happy. This is a line block, not

[Illustration: 11½ × 9. THE VILLAGE STREET, TINTERN. NIGHT.

_Application of shading medium._]

In such a case the procedure is normal until the image is printed upon
the sensitized ground of the zinc plate. Then the prescribed tint
is transferred by pressure of thumb and fingers, or by means of a
burnisher, from an engraved sheet of gelatine previously inked with a
printing roller. The zinc plate is then etched in the familiar way.

[Illustration: 11½ × 8¾. LEEBOTWOOD.

_Showing application of shading medium to treatment of sky._]

These tints are produced by Day’s shading mediums; thin sheets of
gelatine engraved upon one side with lines or with a pattern of
stipple. There are very many of these patterns. They can readily be
applied, and with the greatest accuracy, because the gelatine is
semi-transparent, and admits of the operator seeing what he is about.
These mechanical tints are capable of exquisite application, but
they have been more frequently regarded as labour-saving appliances,
and have rarely been used with skill, and so have come to bear an
altogether unmerited stigma. They can be used by a clever process-man,
under the directions of the draughtsman, with great effect, and in
remarkably diverse ways. For it is not at all necessary that the tint
should come all over the block. It can be worked in most intricately.
The illustration, _Leebotwood_, shows an application of shading medium
to the sky. The proprietors (for it is a patent) of these devices
have endeavoured to introduce their use amongst artists, with a view
to their working the mediums upon the drawings themselves. It has
been shown that the varieties of shading to be obtained by shifting
and transposing the gelatine plates is illimitable, but as their use
involves establishing a printing roller and printer’s ink in one’s
studio, and as all artists are not printers born, it does not seem at
all likely that Day’s shading mediums will be used outside lithographic
offices or the offices of reproductive firms.

Here are appended some examples of the shading mediums commonly used.

The cost of reproduction by process varies very greatly. It is always
calculated at so much the square inch, with a minimum charge ranging,
for line-work, from two-and-sixpence to five shillings. For half-tone
the minimum may be put at from ten shillings to sixteen shillings.
Plain line blocks, by the bitumen or albumen processes, cost from
twopence-halfpenny to sixpence per square inch, and handwork upon the
block is charged extra. Some firms make a charge of one penny per
square inch for the application of Day’s shading mediums. Line blocks
by the swelled gelatine process are charged at one shilling per square
inch, and reproductions of pencil or crayon work at one-and-threepence.
Half-tone blocks from objects, photographs, or drawings range from
eightpence to one-and-sixpence per square inch, and the cost of a
photogravure plate may be put at two-and-sixpence for the same unit.
The best work in any photographic process is infinitely less costly
than wood engraving, which, although its cost is not generally
calculated on the basis of the inch, as in all process work, may range
approximately from three shillings to five shillings for engraving of
average merit.




_Application of shading medium._]

Electrotype copies of line blocks cost from three-farthings to
three-halfpence per square inch, and from half-tone blocks, twopence,
although it is not advisable to have electrotypes taken of these fine
and delicate blocks. If duplicates are wanted of half-tones, the usual
practice is to have two original blocks made, the process-engraver
charging for the second block half the price of the first.


The process engraver will tell you, if you seek counsel of him, that
you should use Bristol-board, and of that only the smoothest and most
highly finished varieties. But, however easy it may render his work
of reproduction, there is no necessity for you to draw upon cardboard
or smooth-surfaced paper at all. Paper of a reasonable whiteness
is, of course, necessary to any process of line engraving which has
photography as a basis, but to say that stiff cardboards or papers of
a blue-white, as opposed to the cream-laid variety, are necessary is
merely to obscure what is, after all, a simple matter.

Bristol-board is certainly a very favourite material, and the varieties
of cardboards sold under that name are numerous enough to please
anybody. Goodall’s sell as reliable a make as can be readily found. It
is white enough to please the photo-engraver, and of a smooth, hard
surface; and a hard surface you must have for pen-work. But it is an
unsympathetic material, and it is an appreciably more difficult matter
to make a pencil sketch upon it than upon such papers as Whatman’s HP.

Mounting-boards are frequently used, chiefly for journalistic pen-work,
when it may be supposed nobody cares anything about the _finesse_ of
the art, but only that the drawing shall be up to a certain standard
of excellence, and, more particularly, up to time. Mounting-boards are
appreciably cheaper than good Bristol-board, but if erasures are to be
made they are troublesome, because under the surface they are composed
of the shoddiest of matter. They are convenient, indeed admirable, for
studies carried out in a masculine manner with a quill pen, or for
simple drawings made with an ordinary writing nib, with not too sharp a
point. For delicate technique they are not to be recommended.

Indeed, for anything but work done at home, cardboards of any sort are
inexpedient; they are heavy, and take up too much space. If they were
necessary, of course you would have to put up with the inconvenience of
carrying two or more pounds’ weight of them about with you, but they
are not necessary.

Every one who makes drawings in pen and ink is continually looking
out for an ideal paper; many have found their ideals in this
respect; but that paper which one man swears by, another will, not
inconceivably, swear at, so no recommendation can be trusted. Again,
personal predilections change amazingly. One day you will be able to
use Bristol-board with every satisfaction; another, you will find its
smooth, dead white, immaculate surface perfectly dispiriting. No one’s
advice can be implicitly followed in respect of papers, inks, or pens.
Every one must find his own especial fancy, and when he has found it he
will produce the better work.

The pen-draughtsman who is a paper-fancier does not leave untried even
the fly-leaves of his correspondence. Papers have been found in this
way which have proved satisfactory. All you have to do is to go to some
large stationer or wholesale papermaker’s and get your fancy matched.
It would be an easy matter to obtain sheets larger than note-paper.

Whatman’s HP, or hot-pressed drawing-paper, is good for pen-drawing,
but its proper use is not very readily learnt. To begin with, the
surface is full of little granulations and occasional fibres which
catch the pen and cause splutterings and blots. Sometimes, too, you
happen upon insufficiently sized Whatman, and then lines thicken almost
as if the drawing were being made upon blotting-paper.

A good plan is to select some good HP Whatman and have it calendered.
Any good stationer could put you in the way of getting the calendering
done, or possibly such a firm as Dickinsons’, manufacturers of paper,
in Old Bailey, could be prevailed upon to do it. If you want a firm,
hard, clear-cut line, you will of course use only Bristol-board or
mounting-board, or papers with a highly finished surface. Drawings upon
Whatman’s papers give in the reproductions broken and granulated lines
which the process-man (but no one else) regards as defects. Should the
block itself be defective, he will doubtless point to the paper as the
cause, but there is no reason why the best results should not proceed
from HP paper. Messrs. Reeves and Sons, of Cheapside, sell what they
call London boards. These are sheets of Whatman mounted upon cardboard.
They offer the advantages of the HP surface with the rigidity of the
Bristol-board. The Art Tablets sold by the same firm are cardboards
with Whatman paper mounted on either side. A drawing can be made upon
both sides and the tablet split up afterwards.

In connection with illustration, amongst the most remarkable inventions
of late years are the prepared cardboards generally known amongst
illustrators as “scratch-out cardboards,” introduced by Messrs. Angerer
and Göschl of Vienna, and by M. Gillot of Paris. These cardboards are
of several kinds, but are all prepared with a surface of kaolin, or
china-clay. Reeves sell eight varieties of these clay-boards. They
are somewhat expensive, costing two shillings a sheet of nineteen by
thirteen inches, but when their use is well understood they justify
their existence by the rich effects obtained, and by the saving of time
effected in drawing upon them. Drawings made upon these preparations
have all the fulness and richness of wash, pencil, or crayon, and may
be reproduced by line processes at the same cost as a pen-drawing
made upon plain paper. The simplest variety of clay-board is the one
prepared with a plain white surface, upon which a drawing may be
made with pen and ink, or with a brush, the lights taken out with
a scraper or a sharp-pointed knife. It is advisable to work upon
all clay-surfaced papers or cardboards with pigmental inks, as, for
instance, lampblack, ivory-black, or Indian ink. Ebony stain is not
suitable. The more liquid inks and stains have a tendency to soak
_through_ the prepared surface of china-clay, rather than to rest only
_upon_ it, thereby rendering the cardboard useless for “scratch-out”
purposes, and of no more value than ordinary drawing-paper. A drawing
made upon plain clay-board with pen and brush, using lampblack as a
medium, can be worked upon very effectively with a sharp point. White
lines of a character not to be obtained in any other way can be thus
produced with happy effect. Mr. Heywood Sumner has made some of his
most striking decorative drawings in this manner. It is a manner of
working remarkably akin to the wood-engraver’s art—that is to say,
drawing or engraving in white lines upon a black field—only of course
the cardboard is more readily worked upon than the wood block. Indeed,
wood-engravers have frequently used this plain clay-board. They have
had the surface sensitized, the drawing photographed and printed upon
it, and have then proceeded to take out lights, to cut out white lines,
and to hatch and cross-hatch, until the result looks in every way
similar to a wood engraving. This has then been photographed again, and
a zinc block made that in the printing would defy even an expert to

Other kinds of clay-boards are impressed with a grain or with plain
indented lines, or printed upon with black lines or reticulations,
which may be scratched through with a point, or worked upon with brush
or pen. Examples are given here:


No. 1. White cardboard, impressed with a plain canvas grain.

This gives a fine painty effect, as shown in the drawing of polled
willows: a drawing made in pencil, with lights in foreground grass and
on tree-trunks scratched out with a knife or with the curved-bladed
eraser sold for use with these preparations.



2. Plain white diagonal lines. Pencil drawing.

3. Plain white perpendicular lines. Pencil drawing.

4. Plain white aquatint grain. Pencil drawing.

These four varieties require greater care and a lighter hand in working
than the others, because their patterns are not very deeply stamped,
and consequently the furrows between the upstanding lines are apt to
become filled with pencil, and to give a broken and spotty effect in
the reproduction.


5. Black aquatint. This is not a variety in constant use. Three states
are shown.

6. Black diagonal lines. This is the pattern in greater requisition.
The method of working is shown, but the possibilities of this pattern
are seen admirably and to the best advantage in the illustration of
_Venetian Fête on the Seine_.



7. Black perpendicular lines. Same as No. 6, except in direction of



_Pen and ink on black diagonal-lined clay-board. Lights scratched out._]

Drawings made upon these grained and ridged papers must not be stumped
down or treated in any way that would fill up the interstices,
which give the lined and granular effect capable of reproduction by
line-process. Also, it is very important to note that drawings on these
papers can only be subjected to a slight reduction of scale—say, a
reduction at most by one quarter. The closeness of the printed grains
and lines forbids a smaller scale that shall be perfect. Mr. C. H.
Shannon has drawn upon lined “scratch-out” cardboard with the happiest


A common delusion as to pens for drawing is that only the finer-pointed
kinds are suitable. To the contrary, most of the so-called “etching
pens” and crow-quills and lilliputian affairs sold are not only
unnecessary, but positively harmful. They encourage the niggling
methods of the amateur, and are, besides, untrustworthy and dreadfully
scratchy. You can but rarely depend upon them for the drawing of
a continuous line; frequently they refuse to mark at all. I know
very well that I shall be exclaimed against when I say that a good
medium-pointed pen or fine-pointed school nib are far better than
three-fourths of the pens especially made for draughtsmen, but that is
the case.

With practice, one can use almost any writing nib for the production of
a pen-drawing. Even the broad-pointed J pen is useful. Quill pens are
delightful to work with for the making of pen-studies in a bold, free
manner. A well-cut quill flies over all descriptions of paper, rough or
smooth, without the least catching of fibres or spluttering. It is the
freest and least trammelling of pens, and seems almost to draw of its
own volition.

Brandauer’s pens are, generally, very good, chiefly for the reason
that they have circular points that rarely become scratchy. They
make a small nib, No. 515, which works and wears well; this last an
unusual quality in the small makes. Perry & Co. sell two very similar
nibs, No. 601 (a so-called “etching pen”) and No. 25; they are both
scratchy. Gillott’s crowquill, No. 659, is a barrel pen, very small
and very good, flexible, and capable of producing at once the finest
and the boldest lines; but Brandauer’s Oriental pen, No. 342 EF, an
ordinary fine-pointed writing pen, is just as excellent, and its use is
more readily learnt. It takes some time and practice to discover the
capabilities of the Gillott crowquill; the other pen’s possibilities
are easier found. Besides, the tendency with a microscopic nib is
to niggled work, which is not to be desired at the cost of vigour.
Mitchell’s F pen is a fine-pointed school writing nib. It is not
particularly flexible, but very reliable and lasts long. Gillott has
recently introduced a very remarkable nib, No. 1000, frankly a drawing
pen, flexible in the extreme, capable of producing at will the finest
of hair-lines or the broadest of strokes.

Some illustrators make line drawings with a brush. Mr. J. F. Sullivan
works in this way, using a red sable brush with all superfluous hairs
cut away, and fashioned to a point. Lampblack is the best medium for
the brush.

To draw in line with a brush requires long practice and great
dexterity, but men who habitually work in this way say that its use
once learnt, no one would exchange it for the pen. Of this I can
express no opinion. Certainly there are some obvious advantages in
using a brush. It does not ever penetrate the surface of the paper, and
it is capable of producing the most solid and smooth lines.

Stylographic and fountain pens, of whatever make, are of no use
whatever. Glass pens are recommended by some draughtsmen for their
quality of drawing an equable line; but they would seem to be chiefly
useful in mathematical and engineering work, which demands the same
thickness of line throughout. These pens would also prove very useful
in architects’ offices, in drawing profiles of mouldings, tracery,
and crockets, because, not being divided into two nibs, they make any
variety of curve without the slightest alteration in the character of
the line produced. Any one accustomed to use the ordinary divided nibs
will know the difficulty of drawing such curves with them.


It is, perhaps, more difficult to come by a thoroughly reliable ink
than to be exactly suited with papers and pens; and yet greater
attention has been given by manufacturers to inks than to those other

You can, often with advantage, use a writing pen; but no one, however
clever he may be, can make a satisfactory drawing for reproduction
with the aid of writing-inks. They are either not black enough, or
else are too fluid, so that it is impossible to run lines close
together, or to cross-hatch without the ink running the lines into one
another. It may, perhaps, be remarked that this is an obvious error,
since many of Keene’s most delightful drawings and studies were made
in writing-inks—black, blue-black, or diluted, or even in red, and
violet, and blue inks. Certainly Keene was a great man in whatever
medium he used, but he was not accustomed to be reproduced in any other
way than by so-called _fac-simile_ wood engraving. In this way all his
greynesses and faint lines could have their relative values translated,
but even in the cleverest surface-printing processes his work could not
be adequately reproduced.

Stephens’s ebony stain is perhaps the most widely used ink at this
time. It is not made for the purpose of drawing, being a stain
for wood; but its merits for pen-drawing have been known for some
considerable time. It is certainly the best, cheapest, and least
troublesome medium in the market. It is, when not diluted, an intensely
black liquid with an appreciable body, but not too thick to flow
freely. It dries with a certain but not very obtrusive glaze, which
process-engravers at one time objected to most strongly, _because_ they
wanted something to object to on principle; but they have at length
become tired of remonstrating, and really there was never any objection
to the stain upon that score. It flows readily from the pen, and when
drying upon the nib is not gummy nor in any way adhesive, but powders
easily—avoiding the abomination of a pen clogged with a sticky mess of
half-dry mud, characteristic of the use of Indian ink. Ebony stain is
sold in substantial stone bottles, and so does not readily become
thick; but when, owing to any cause, it does not run freely enough, a
sparing dilution with water restores its fluid properties. Diluted too
often or too freely, it becomes of a decided purple-brown tint; but as
a good-sized bottle costs only sixpence, and holds enough to last a
year, it need not be repeatedly diluted on the score of its cost. It
is not a fixed ink, and readily smudges when washed over or spotted
with water—so cannot be used in combination with water-colour or
flat-washes. Neither can Chinese white be used upon a drawing made in
Ebony stain. These are disadvantages that would tell against its use by
illustrators who make many alterations upon their work, or who paint in
lights on a pen-drawing with body-colour; but for pure pen-drawing, and
for straight-away journalistic work, it is invaluable.

Indian ink is the traditional medium. It has the advantage of fixity;
lines drawn with it, when once dry, will not smudge when washed over,
and, at most, they give but a very slight grey or brown tint to the
paper. Indian ink can be bought in sticks and ground with water in a
saucer; but there seems to be no reason for any one to go to this
trouble, as liquid Indian inks are to be bought in bottles from
Messrs. Reeves. The best Indian ink, when freshly ground, gives a
fine black line that dries with that bogey of the process-man, a
glaze; but lampblack is of a more intense blackness, and dries with a
dull surface. Lampblack is easily soluble, and therefore has not the
stability of good Indian ink to recommend it. For ordinary use with
the pen, it has too much of the pigmental nature, and is very apt to
clog the nib and to cause annoyance and loss of time. Lampblack and
Ivory-black are better suited to the brush. Hentschel, of 182, Fleet
Street, sells an American preparation called “Whiting’s Process-Drawing
Ink,” which professes to have all the virtues that should accompany
a drawing-ink. It is very abominable, and has an immediate corrosive
effect upon pens. The drawing-materials’ shop in King William Street,
Strand, sells “Higgins’ American Drawing Ink,” done up in ingeniously
contrived bottles. It is well spoken of.

_Encre de Chine Liquide_ is the best liquid Indian ink sold, and is
very largely used by draughtsmen. It can be obtained readily at any
good colour-shop. It is far preferable to most of the liquid Indian
inks prepared by English houses, which when left standing for a few
minutes deposit a sediment, and at best are inadequate concoctions of a
greenish-grey colour. Messrs. Reeves and Sons have recently introduced
a special ink for pen-drawing, which they call “Artists’ Black.” It is
as good as any. It is a liquid ink, sold in shilling bottles.

Mr. Du Maurier uses blue-black writing-ink from an inkstand that
is always allowed to stand open and receive dust and become half
muddy. He prefers it in this condition. Also he generally works upon
HP drawing-paper. It is interesting to know this, but to work in
blue-black ink is an amiable eccentricity that might prove disastrous
to any one following his example. His work is not reproduced by
zincography, but by _fac-simile_ wood engraving. It may be laid down as
an inflexible rule, if you are beginning the study of pen-drawing, if
your work is for hurried newspaper production, or if you have not the
control of the reproduction in your own hands, to draw for line-process
in the blackest ink and on the whitest paper.

Many architects and architectural draughtsmen, who are accustomed
to exhibit pen-drawings of architecture at the Royal Academy, are
accustomed to draw in brown inks. Prout’s Brown is generally used,
and gives a very pleasing effect to a drawing. It photographs and
reproduces readily, but it must always be borne in mind that, if
printed in black ink, the reproduction will inevitably be much heavier.
Scarlet inks, and even yellow inks, have been used by draughtsmen for
special purposes, and are allowable from the photographic point of
view; but blue must not be used, being an actinic colour and impossible
to photograph.


It is not to be supposed that because the pen is so handy an
instrument, and inks and paper, of sorts, are everywhere, that the
making of a pen-drawing is a simple affair of a few uneducated strokes.
The less you know of the art, the easier it seems, and they do but
show their ignorance who speak of its simplicity. You will want as
much power of draughtsmanship, and more, for drawing in this medium
than in many others; because the difference between good drawing and
bad is more readily seen in line-work than in other methods, and since
in these days the standard of the art has been raised so high. You
will want not less study in the open air, or with the life-class for
figure-work, than the painter gives or should give to his preliminary
studies for his art. This drudgery you will have to go through, whether
in the schools of the Science and Art Department (which does not
recognize this, the livest art of our time), or in the studio and
under the care of some artist who receives pupils in the fashion of
the _atélier_ system in France. But such studios are rare in England.
It seems likely that the student of pen-drawing, who starts with
learning draughtsmanship of any sort, must first go through much of
the ordinary grind of the schools, and, when he has got some sort of
proficiency, turn to and worry out the application of the pen to his
already received teaching. No one will teach him pen-drawing as an
individual art; of that there is no doubt. Perhaps the best course he
could pursue would be to become acquainted with the books illustrated
by the foremost men, and study them awhile to see in what manner they
work with the pen, and with this knowledge set to work with models,
in the same way as a painter would do. Or, if your work is of another
branch beside the figure, go to the fields, the hedgerows, and all the
glory of the country-side, and work first-hand. The sketch-book is a
necessity, and should always be in the student’s pocket for the jotting
down of notes and memoranda.

I do not think many pen-draughtsmen are careful enough to make a
thorough pencil study as the basis of their pen-drawing, although that
is the best way to proceed, and their drawings would be all the better
for the practice. It is to this absence of the preliminary pencil-work,
this shirking of an undoubted drudgery, that is due the quantity of
uninspired, fumbling drawing with the pen that we see nowadays. The
omission of a carefully made original pencil-sketch, over which to work
in pen and ink, renders commonplace the work of many artists which,
if only they were less impatient of toil, would become transfigured.
What is so injurious to the man who has learnt his art is fatal to one
who is by way of beginning its study. Make, then, a pencil-drawing in
outline, using an HB pencil, as carefully as if that only were the end
and object of your work. Work lightly with this hard pencil upon the
paper or cardboard you have selected, indicating shadows rather than
filling them in. It is necessary to make only faint pencil lines, for
they will have to be rubbed out eventually, after the pen-drawing has
been made over them. If the marks were deep and strong, a great deal of
rubbing would have to be done to get them out, and that injures the
surface of the paper and greys the black lines of the ink used. On
the other hand, if the pencil-marks were not rubbed out, they would
very likely photograph and reproduce in the process-block. To a
pen-draughtsman of experience the reproduction of his pencil-marks can
be made an additional beauty; but the student had much better be, at
first, a purist, and make for clean pen-strokes alone on his finished

It must always be remembered, if you are working for reproduction (and
consequent reduction of scale from the drawing to the process-block),
that the pen-work you have seen printed in the books and papers and
magazines was made on a much larger scale than you see it reproduced
in their pages. Very frequently, as in the American magazines, the
reduction is to about one quarter scale of the original drawing; but,
working for process in England, the drawing should, generally speaking,
be from two-thirds to one-half larger than the reproduction. These
proportions will, as a rule, give excellent results.

Seeing that your drawing is to be so much larger than the
process-block, it follows that the pen-work can, with advantage, be
correspondingly vigorous. It would help you better than any description
to a notion of what an original drawing should be like, if you could
obtain a glance at the originals of any good pen-draughtsmen. But
unfortunately, there are few exhibitions in which pen-work has any

When your pencil study is completed in an outline giving all details
down to the minutest, you can set about the pen-drawing. Often, indeed,
if carefully made, the pencil-sketch looks too good to be covered
up with ink. If you wish to retain it, it can, if made upon thin
paper, be traced upon cardboard with the aid of black carbon paper,
or better still (since blue will not photograph) with blue transfer
paper, which you can either purchase or make for yourself by taking
thin smooth paper and rubbing powdered blue chalk upon one side of
it, or scribbling closely upon it with blue pencil. There is another
way of tracing the pencil-drawing: by pinning over it a sheet of thin
correspondence paper (of the kind called Bank Post) and working upon
that straight away.

But, after all, it would, for the sake of retaining something of the
freshness of first impressions, be best to sacrifice your pencil study
and work away on that.

Now the pen-drawing is begun, care should be taken to draw only clear
and perfectly black lines, and not to run these together, but to keep
the drawing what the process men call “open.”

If details are put in without regard for the fining down which
reduction gives, it is only too likely that the result will show only
dirty, meaningless patches where was a great deal of delicate pen-work.
Of course, the exact knowledge of how to draw with the pen to get the
best results by process cannot properly be taught, but must be learned
by experience, after many miscalculations.

It will be found, too, that many things which it would be inadvisable
for the beginner to do (especially if he cannot command his own
choice of process-engraver) are perfectly legitimate to the practised
artist who has studied process work. The student should not be at
first encouraged to make experiments in diluted inks or retained
pencil-marks, or any of those delightful practices by which one who is
thoroughly conversant with photographic processes and pen-drawing
varies the monotony of his medium. He should begin by making his
drawings as simply as he can, so that they express his subject. And
this simplicity, this quality of suggestion, is the true field of
pen-work. The best work is reticent and sober, giving the greatest
number of essential facts in the fewest strokes. If you can express a
fact with sufficient intelligibility in half a dozen pen strokes, it is
inartistic and inexpedient to worry it into any number of scratches.
This is often done because the public likes to see that there has
been plenty of manual labour put into the work it buys. It is greatly
impressed with the knowledge that any particular drawing took days to
complete, and it respects that drawing accordingly, and has nothing
but contempt for a sketch which may have taken only an hour or so,
although the first may be artless and overloaded with unnecessary
detail, and the second instinct with actuality and suggestion. But if
you are drawing a landscape with a pen, that is no reason for putting
in an elaborate foreground of grass, carefully working up each square
inch. Such a subject can be rendered by a master in a few strokes, and
though, possibly, you may never equal the artistry of the master, you
can follow his ideals. Another and allied point in pen-and-ink art is
its adaptability to what is termed “selection.” You have, say, before
you the view or object to be drawn. You do not need to make a drawing
in which you shall niggle up every part of it, but you select (the
trained eye readily does this) its salient feature and emphasize it
and make it fall properly into the composition, leaving aught else
either suggested or less thoroughly treated. Here is a pen-drawing
made with a very special regard to a selection only of the essential.
_The Gatehouse, Moynes Court_, is a singular structure near the shore
of the Severn estuary, two miles below Chepstow. The singularity of
its design, rarely paralleled in England, would give the artist the
motive for sketching, and its tapering lines and curious roofs are
best preserved in a drawing that deals chiefly in outline, and has
but little shading wherewith to confuse the queer profile of these
effective towers. This drawing was reproduced by the bitumen process.
The lines in the foreground, suggestive of grass, were drawn in pencil.
The pen-sketches and studies of the foremost artists which have been
made, not for publication, but for practice, but which have sometimes
been reproduced, as, for instance, some slight sketches of Charles
Keene’s, delight the artist’s eye simply by reason of their suggestive
and selective qualities. If you do not delight in these things,
but have a desire to (as the untaught public might say) “see them
finished,” then it seems likely either that you have not the artistic
sense, or else you have not sufficient training; but I should suspect
you were in the first category, and should then advise you to leave
matters artistic alone.

[Illustration: 7¼ × 9. THE GATEHOUSE, MOYNES COURT.

_Bitumen process. Drawing showing value of selection._]

You should not forget that in drawing for reproduction you are not
working like the painter of a picture. The painter’s picture exists
for its own sake, not, like a pen or wash drawing, as only the means
to an end. The end of these drawings is illustration, and when this is
frankly acknowledged, no one has any right to criticize the neatness or
untidiness of the means, so long as the end is kept properly in view.

We have not yet arrived at that stage of civilization when
black-and-white art shall be appreciated as fully as colour. When we
have won to that pinnacle of culture, then perhaps an original drawing
in pen or monochrome will be cherished for its own sake; at present
we are barbaric more than enough, and bright hues attract us only in
lesser degree than our “friend and brother,” Quashee from the Congo.
How nearly related we are these preferences may show more readily than
the ranter’s impassioned oratory. As a drawing made for reproduction
is only a stage on the way to the printed illustration, and is not
the cynosure of collectors, it is successful or unsuccessful only
in so far as it subserves this purpose. There is really no need for
scrupulous neatness in the original; there is no necessity for it to
have the appearance of a finished picture or of delicate execution, so
only it will wear this appearance when reduced. That curious bugbear
of neatness causes want of breadth and vigour, and is the cause of
most of the tight and trammelled handling we see. Draughtsmen at the
outset of their career are too much afraid of their mediums of white
cardboard and ink, and too scrupulous in submitting their original
drawings, beautifully cleaned up and trimmed round, to editors who, if
they know their business, give no better consideration to them on that
account. Mr. Ruskin has written, in his _Elements of Drawing_, some
most misleading things with regard to drawing with the pen. True, his
book was written in the ’50’s, before pen-drawing became an art, but it
has been repeatedly reprinted even so lately as 1893, and consequently
it is still actively dangerous. “Coarse art,” _i.e._ bold work, says
Mr. Ruskin—he is speaking of pen-drawing—“is always bad art.” There
you see Mr. Ruskin holding a brief for the British public which admires
the ineffable artistry displayed in writing the Lord’s Prayer on a
threepenny piece, but deplores the immorality shown in drawings done
with a quill pen. The art of a pen-drawing is _not_ to be calculated
on a sliding-scale graduated to microscopical fractions of an inch and
applied to its individual strokes.

The appearance a drawing will present when reduced may be approximately
judged by the use of a “diminishing glass,” that is to say, a concave

Drawings should not be cleaned up with india-rubber, which destroys the
surface of paper or cardboard and renders lines rotten; bread should
be used, preferably stale bread two days old, crumbled and rubbed over
the drawing with the palm of the hand. Mr. Ruskin says that in this way
“you waste the good bread, which is wrong;” but you had better use a
handful of “the good bread” in this way than injure a good drawing.

The copying of wood engravings or steel prints, not for their subjects,
but for their peculiar _techniques_, is a vicious and inartistic
practice. Time used in this way is time wasted, and worse than wasted,
because this practice is utterly at variance with the spirit of

It is not a proof of artistry or consummate draughtsmanship to be able
to draw a straight line or a perfect circle, the absurd legend of
Giotto and his circle notwithstanding.

There are many labour-saving tricks in drawing for reproduction, but
these have usually little connection with the purely artistic side
of illustration. They have been devised chiefly to aid the new race
of artist-journalists in drawing for the papers which cater for that
well-known desire of the public to see its news illustrated hot and
hot. Most of these methods and the larger proportion of the men who
practice them are frankly journalistic, but some few draughtsmen have
succeeded in resolving this sleight of hand into novel and interesting
styles, and their hurried work has achieved a value all its own,
scarcely legitimate, but aggressive and clamouring for attention.

One of these tricks in illustration is a method which is largely
practised for journalistic illustration in America—drawing in pen and
ink upon photographs, which are afterwards bleached out, the outline
drawings remaining to be processed. Although not a desirable practice
from an artistic point of view, it is advantageously used for news work
or upon any occasion in which expedition is essential. The photograph
to be treated in this way is printed by the usual silver-print method,
with the exception that the paper used is somewhat differently
prepared. What is known as “plain salted paper” is used; that is
to say, paper prepared without the albumen which gives to ordinary
silver-prints their smooth, shiny appearance. The paper is prepared by
being soaked in a solution made by the following formula:—

    Chlorate of ammonia   100 grains.
    Gelatine              10    "
    Water                 10  ounces.

The print is made and fixed without toning. It may now be drawn upon
with pen and Indian ink. The ink should be perfectly black and fixed.
The drawing, if it is to be worth anything artistically, must not aim
at anything like the fulness of detail which the photograph possesses.
An outline drawing is readily made in this way, and a considerable
amount of detail may be achieved. Indeed, the temptation is always to
go over the photograph in pen and ink too fully, and only draughtsmen
of accomplishment can resist this almost irresistible inducement to do
too much. Still, admirable results have been obtained in this way by
artists who know and practise the very great virtue of reticence.

When the drawing has been finished it is immersed in a solution of
bichlorate of mercury dissolved in alcohol, which removes all traces of
the photograph, leaving the drawing showing uninjured upon plain white
paper. Omissions from the drawing may now be supplied and corrections
made, and it is now ready for being processed. If very serious
omissions are noticed, the photograph may be conjured back by immersing
the paper in a solution of hyposulphite of soda.

Another and readier way is to draw upon photographs printed on
ferro-prussiate paper. This paper may be purchased at any good
photographic materials shop, or it can be prepared by brushing a sheet
of paper over with a sensitizing solution composed of the two following
solutions, A and B, prepared separately and then mixed in equal

  A { Citrate of iron and ammonia   1⅞ ounces.
    { Water                         8    "

  B { Ferricyanide of potassium     1¼   "
    { Water                         8    "

The paper must be prepared thus in a dark room and quickly dried. It
will remain in good condition for three or four months, and is best
preserved in a calcium tube. Prints made upon ferro-prussiate paper are
formed in Prussian blue, and are fixed in the simplest way, on being
taken from the printing frame, by washing in cold water.

An Indian ink drawing may now be made upon this blue photographic
print, and sent for process without the necessity of bleaching, because
blue will not reproduce. If, on the other hand, it is desired to see
the drawing as black lines upon white paper, the blue print may be
bleached out in a few seconds by immersing it in a dish of water in
which a small piece of what chemists call carbonate of soda (common
washing soda) has been dissolved.

Outline drawings for reproduction by process may be made upon
tracing-paper. Most of the rough illustrations and portrait sketches
printed in the morning and evening newspapers are tracings made in
this way from photographs or from other more elaborate illustrations.
Although this is not at all a dignified branch of art, yet some of the
little portrait heads that appear from time to time in the _St. James’s
Gazette_, _Pall Mall Gazette_, and the _Westminster Gazette_ are models
of selection and due economy of line, calculated to give all the
essentials of portraiture, while having due regard to the exigencies of
the newspaper printing press.


The two outline portrait sketches shown here are reproduced from the
_St. James’s Gazette_. Their thick lines have a tendency to become
offensive when subjected to careful book-printing, but appearing as
they originally did in the rapidly printed editions of an evening
paper, this emphasis of line was exactly suited to the occasion.


Translucent white tracing-paper should be used for tracing purposes,
pinned securely through the corners of the photograph or drawing to be
copied in this manner on to a drawing-board, so that the tracing may
not be shifted while in progress. No pencilling is necessary, but the
tracing should be made in ink, straight away. Fixed Indian ink should
be used, because when the tracing is finished it will be necessary for
process purposes to paste it upon cardboard, and, tracing-paper being
so thin, the moisture penetrates, and would smudge a drawing made in
soluble inks unless the very greatest care was taken. Old tracing-paper
which has turned a yellow colour should on no account be used, and
tracing-cloth is rarely available, because, although beautifully
transparent, it is generally too greasy for pure line-work.

Pen-drawings which are to be made and reproduced for the newspaper
press at the utmost speed are made upon lithographic transfer paper
in lithographic ink, a stubborn and difficult material of a fatty
nature. Drawings made in this way are not photographed, but transferred
direct to the zinc plate, and etched in a very short space of time. No
reduction in scale is possible, and the original drawing is inevitably
destroyed in the process of transferring.


Wash drawings for reproduction by half-tone process should be made upon
smooth or finely grained cardboards. Reeves’ London board is very good
for the purpose, and so is a French board they keep, stamped in the
corner of each sheet with the initials A. L. in a circle. Wash drawings
should be made in different gradations of the same colour if a good
result is to be expected: thus a wash drawing in lampblack should be
executed only in shades of lampblack, and not varied by the use of
sepia in some parts, or of Payne’s grey in others. Lampblack is a
favourite material, and excellent from the photographic point of view.
Payne’s grey, or neutral tint, at one time had a great vogue, but it is
too blue in all its shades for altogether satisfactory reproduction,
although the illustration, _The Houses of Parliament_, shown on p.
122, has come well with its use. Chinese white was freely used in the
drawing, and its value is shown in putting in the swirls of fog.


_Wash drawing in Payne’s grey. Half-tone process, medium grain._]


_Drawing on paper in charcoal-grey, lights put in with Chinese white.
Medium grain._]

Indian ink is capable of producing the greatest range of tone from
light to dark, and successive washes with it are quite indelible. But
it may be said at once that this great range is not necessary—nay,
is not advisable in drawing for half-tone reproduction. In view of
the unavoidable defects of the half-tone processes which tend to
flatten out the picture, artists should not attempt many and delicate
gradations. Half a dozen tones from black to white will generally
suffice. Any attempt to secure the thousand-and-one gradations of a
photograph will be at once needless and harmful.

Pure transparent water-colour washes do not give such good effects
in reproduction as work in body-colour. Chinese white mixed with
lampblack comes beautifully. Charcoal-grey, of recent introduction,
is not so well adapted to the admixture of body-colour. Altogether,
charcoal-grey, although a very admirable colour, is a difficult
material unless you know exactly at starting a drawing what you intend
to do. The illustration, _Victoria Embankment: a Foggy Night_, was made
in it on rough paper. The nature of the subject rendered the execution
of the drawing easy, but in a drawing which runs the whole gamut of
tone, its unstable qualities forbid its use by the novice.

[Illustration: 13 × 10. CORFE RAILWAY STATION.

_Drawing upon common rough scribbling paper in Indian ink, washes
reinforced by pencil lines. Fine grain._]

[Illustration: 10½ × 6½. THE AMBULATORY, DORE ABBEY.

_Photograph painted in parts with body-colour._]

The drawings made in wash by Myrbach and Rossi have set the fashion for
much recent illustration. Vignettes made with a full brush and reduced
to infinitesimal proportions have abounded since the illustrated
editions of _Tartarin of Tarascon_ first charmed the eye; but now,
reduced to the common denominator of the sixpenny magazines, they
have lost all the qualities and retained all the defects the fashion
ever had. The drawing of _Corfe Railway Station_ was made in washes
of Indian ink with a full brush, each successive wash left to dry
thoroughly before the next was laid on. Parts are reinforced with
pencil strokes: these can readily be identified in the print. The block
was then vignetted.

Another method is used for half-tone work. A photograph is mounted upon
cardboard, and may be worked upon in brushwork with body-colour to any
extent, either for lightening the picture or for making it darker. For
working upon the ordinary silver-print an admixture of ox-gall must be
used or the pigments will not “take” upon the sensitized paper.[1]
The illustration, _The Ambulatory, Dore Abbey_, is from a photograph,
worked upon in this manner. The photo was so dark and indefinite that
something was necessary to be done to show the springing of the arches
and the relation of one pier to another. Chinese white was used in the
manner described above, and the arches outlined in places by scratching
with the sharp point of a penknife.

[1] Refer to _The Real Japan_, by Henry Norman. Fisher Unwin, 1892. The
book is freely illustrated with half-tone blocks made from photographs.
The photographs were all extensively worked upon with body-colour in
this manner. Indeed, the brushwork may clearly be discerned in the

Tinted cards may be used in drawing for half-tone, but yellow tints
must be avoided, for obvious photographic reasons; and blue tints,
photographically, are practically pure white. If tinted cardboard is
used at all, it should be in tints of grey or brown.


_Oil sketch on canvas in Payne’s grey. Half-tone process. Fine

A very satisfactory way of working for half-tone is to work in oil
monochrome. The reproductions from oil sketches come very well indeed
by half-tone processes: full and vigorous. The photo-engraver always
objects to oil because of its gloss, but this can be obviated by
mixing your colour with turpentine or benzine, which give a dull
surface. The sketch shown on p. 130 was made in this way. It was a
smoothly worked sketch, with no aggressive brush-marks, but it may be
noted that brush-marks come beautifully by this process: if anything,
rather stronger than in the original, because the shadows cast by them
reproduce as well. But if you sketch in oils for reproduction, be chary
of vigorous brushwork in white: it comes unpleasantly prominent in the

In giving instructions for the reproduction, and reduction, of
drawings, the measurement in one direction of the reproduction desired
should be plainly indicated thus: ← 4½ inches →. Unless absolutely
unavoidable, drawings should not be sent marked “½ size,” “⅓ scale,”
and so on, because these terms are apt to mislead. People not
accustomed to measurements are very uncertain in their understanding of
them, and, absurd as it may seem to those who deal in mensuration, they
very frequently take ½ scale and ½ size as synonymous terms; while ½
scale is really ¼ size, and so on, in proportion.


The proportions a drawing will assume when reduced may be ascertained
in this way. You have, say, a narrow upright drawing, as shown in the
above diagram, and you want the width reduced to a certain measurement,
but having marked this off are at a loss to know what height the
reproduction will be. Supposing it to be a pen-drawing, vignetted, as
most pen-drawings are; in the first place, light pencil lines touching
the farthest projections of the drawing should be ruled to each of its
four sides, meeting accurately at the angles A, B, C, D. This frame
being made, a diagonal line should be lightly ruled from upper to lower
corner, either—as shown—from B to C, or from A to D. The measurement
of the proposed reduction should then be marked off upon the base line
at E, and a perpendicular line ruled from it to meet the diagonal. The
point of contact, F, gives the height that was to be found, and a
horizontal line from F to G completes the diagram, and gives the
correct proportions of the block to be made.

It will readily be seen that large copies of small sketches can be made
in exact proportions by a further application of the diagonal, but care
should be taken to have all these lines drawn scrupulously accurate,
because the slightest deviation throws the proportions all out.


Pen-drawing is ruled by expediency more, perhaps, than any art. I shall
not say that one method is more right than another in the management of
textures, or in the elaboration or mere suggestion of detail, for line
work is, to begin with, a purely arbitrary rendering of tones. There
is nothing like line in nature. Take up an isolated brick; it does not
suggest line in any way. Build it up with others into a wall, and you
can in pen and ink render that wall in many ways that will be equally
convincing and right. It may be expressed in terms of splatter-work,
which can be made to represent admirably a wall where the bricks have
become welded into an homogeneous mass, individually indistinguishable
by age, or of vertical or horizontal lines that may or may not take
account of each individual brick and the joints of the mortar that
binds the courses together. Crosshatching, though a cheap expedient
and a decaying convention, may be used. But to lose sight of ordinary
atmospheric conditions is no more privileged in pen-work than in
paint. This is not by any means unnecessary or untimely advice,
though it should be. The fact of using a pen instead of a brush does
not empower anybody to play tricks with the solar system, though one
sees it constantly done. One continually sees in pen-drawing the laws
of light and shade set at naught, and nobody says anything against
it—perhaps it looks smart. Certainly the effect is novel, and novelty
is a powerful factor in anything. But to draw a wall shining with a
strong diffused light which throws a great black shadow, is contrary
to art and nature both. “Nature,” according to Mr. Whistler, “may be
‘creeping up,’ but she has not reached that point yet. When one sees
suns setting behind the east ends of cathedrals, with other vagaries
of that sort, one simply classes such things with that amusing erratum
of Mr. Rider Haggard’s, in which he describes a ship ‘steaming out of
the mouth of the Thames, shaping her course toward the red ball of the
setting sun.’” But though the instance is amusing, the custom is apt to

Some of the American pen-draughtsmen who contribute to the _Century_
are exceedingly clever, and their handling extremely personal; but
after a time this excessive personality ceases to charm, and, for one
thing, these young bloods are curiously narrow in their choice of the
masters from whom they are only too pleased to derive. Mr. Brennan is,
perhaps, the most curiously original of these men. He is the man who
has shown most convincingly that the inked thumb is the most instant
and effective instrument wherewith to render velvet in a pen-drawing.
You cannot fail to be struck with his method; his manner is entirely
personal, and yet, after a time, it worries one into intolerance.

It is the same with that convention, founded, apparently, by Mr.
Herbert Railton, which has had a long run of some nine or ten years.
It was a convention in pictorial architecture that had nothing except
a remarkably novel technique to recommend it. The illustrator invited
us rather to see how “pretty” he could render an old building, than how
nearly he could show it us as it stood. He could draw an elevation in
a manner curiously feminine, but he could only repeat himself and his
trees; his landscapes were insults to the imagination. Nothing inspired
him to achievements beyond pictorial confectionery.

This convention has had its day, although in the mean while so
strikingly mannered was it that it appealed to almost all the young
and undiscriminating men whose work lay in the rendering of pictorial
architecture. “Go to,” said the Average Artist in “the picturesque,”
“I will sit down and make a drawing in the manner of Mr. Railton.”
And he did, generally, it may be observed, from a photograph, and in
the undistracting seclusion of his own room. This sort of artistic
influenza, which nearly all the younger men caught at one time or
another, was very dangerous to true art. But it could not possibly
last; it was so resourceless. Always we were invited to glance at the
same sky and an unchanging rendering of buildings, whether old or new,
in the same condition of supposedly picturesque decrepitude. Everything
in this mannerism wore the romantic air of the Moated Grange and
radiated Mrs. Radcliffe, dungeons, spectres, and death, whether the
subject was a ruinated castle or a new warehouse. All this has grown
offensive: we want more sobriety. This apotheosis of raging skies and
falling smuts, of impending chimneys, crumbling stones, and tottering
walls was only a personal manner. Its imitators have rendered it

The chief merits of such topographical and archæological drawings are
that they be truthful and reverent. If art is ever to approach the
documentary stage, to be used as the record of facts, it is in this
matter. To flood the country with representations of old buildings
that are not so much pictures of them as exercises in an exaggerated
personal manner, is to deserve ill at the hands of all who would have
preserved to them the appearance of places that are passing away. The
illustrations to such books, say, as Mr. Loftie’s _Inns of Court_ or
his _Westminster Abbey_ are of no historic or artistic value whatever;
they are merely essays in a wild and weird manner of which we are tired
in the originator of it; which we loathe in those who imitate its worst
faults. We require a sober style in this work, after being drunken so
long with its so-called picturesqueness, which, rightly considered, is
but impressionism, ill seen and uninstructed.

No one has exercised so admirable a method, whether in landscape, in
portraiture, or in architecture, as Sir George Reid, but his work
is not readily accessible for the study it invites. It is scholarly
and expressive, eloquent of the character of his subject, free from
redundancies. It is elaborate or suggestive on due occasion, and,
although the style is so distinguished, you always feel that every
drawing by this stylist is really and truly a representation of the
person, place, or thing he has drawn, and not a mere pretext for an
individual handling; no braggart assumption of “side.”

The dangers of following in a slavish manner the eccentricities of
well-known men are exemplified in the work of those illustrators who
ape the whimsies of the impressionist Degas. What Degas may do may
nearly always be informed with distinction, but the illustrators who
reproduce, not his genius, but an outstanding feature of it, are
singularly narrow. If Degas has painted a picture of the play with the
orchestra in the foreground and the bass-viol looming immensely up
three parts of the composition, the third-rate impressionists also lug
in a bass-viol; if he has shown a ballet-girl with apparently only one
leg, they always draw one-legged _coryphées_, and remain incapable of
conceiving them as bipeds.

Caldecott is a dangerous man to copy. He was, first and last, a
draughtsman, and a draughtsman whose every dot and line were eloquent.
There is no technique that you can lay hold of in his work, but only
characterization, which is more frequently caricature. Caldecott would
never have made a serious illustrator; in burlesque he was immense, and
no artist could desire a better monument than his _Picture Books_. His
reputation has fallen greatly of late, notwithstanding the delightful
_John Gilpin_ and the others of that inimitable series; but his repute
had stood higher to-day if his private letters to his friends and
other unconsidered trifles had never been collected and published,
ghoul-like, after his death. Pandering to the market has almost killed
Caldecott’s repute, for the undiscriminating public were invited to
admire reproductions of hasty sketches never intended for publicity.

There is character in Mr. Phil May’s work, and humour, surprisingly set
forth with a marvellous economy of line. His is a gay and festive muse,
that is most at home where the tide of life runs strongest and deepest,
with wine-bubbles breaking “most notoriously,” as Mr. Kipling might
say, upon its surface; with theatres, music-halls, and Gaiety bars
ranged along its banks in profusion. There is much human nature in
Mr. May. Also in Mr. Greiffenhagen; but a different kind. He has gone
chiefly to the boudoir and the drawing-room for his subjects, and has
rendered them with a resolute impressionism and a thorough discarding
of cross-hatch that make a lasting impression with the beholder.
There is a certain Christmas number, 1892, of the _Lady’s Pictorial_
with memorable drawings by him; they are in wash and lithographic
crayon, but may only be noted here in passing. He has a gift of novel,
unhackneyed composition, and he sees the figure for himself, and draws
it in with a daring but right and striking manner.

There has arisen of late years a school of illustration peculiarly
English—the so to call it “Decorative School.” It is a new and higher
incarnation of the pre-Raphaelite movement. The brotherhood did good
work, not at all commensurate with the amount of attention it received,
but beyond all praise in the conventions it founded; and, historically
considered, Rossetti and his fellows are great, and Blake is greater,
because he was an inspired visionary with a kink in his brain, out of
which flowed imaginings the most gorgeous and original. But the
decorative men of to-day are doing even better work—masculine,
convincing, racy of this soil. It is chiefly admirable because it gives
us, in these days of “actuality,” of photography, and reproductions
direct from photographs, a new outlook upon life. English decorative
illustration is, with but few exceptions, possessed of a fine romantic
fancy, poetic, and at the same time healthy and virile and eminently
sane, and it will live. There is great hope for the future of this
school, while the imported styles of Vierge and Rico and other masters
used to sunnier skies, admirable beyond expression in their own places,
droop and languish in the nor’-easterly winds of England, and their
tradition becomes attenuated in passing through so many hands. Their
descendants, from Abbey down to Pennell and the whole crowd of those
who love not wisely but too well, have brought these fine exotic
conventions down to the merest shadows of shades.

Mr. Walter Crane has, any time these last ten years, been the great
Apostle of Decoration _plus_ Socialism. It has been given him in this
wise to make (in theory) the lion to lie down with the lamb (and yet
for the lamb to remain outside the lion with his destiny of mutton
still in perspective), and he has proclaimed in parables the
possibility of mixing oil and water. He has perpetrated a cartoon for
the Socialistic, if not Anarchist, First of May, and therein he has
striven to decoratively treat the British Workman. But although Mr.
Crane has a pretty trick of decoration, he was worsted in that bout,
for the British Plumber or the Irish Hodman is stubborn material for
decoration, and their spouses as festal nymphs are not convincing
visions. Again, he has achieved a weird series of cartoons upon the
walls of the Red Cross Hall in praise of Democratic Valour, in which he
has unsuccessfully attempted to conventionalize rescuing firemen and
heroic police. Such bravery deserved a better fate. Also Mr. Crane has
written much revolutionary verse in praise of brotherhood and equality,
and now he has accepted the mastership of a Governmental art school,
under the direction of that not very revolutionary body, the Committee
of Council for Education (Science and Art Department). Decoration
should be made of sterner stuff! His industry has been prodigious. Even
now a bibliography of him is in the making; and yet shall it be said
that it is difficult in the great mass of his work to find many items
altogether satisfactory? It may be feared it is so. For one thing,
his anatomy is habitually at fault; and yet has he not informed an
interviewer from the _Pall Mall Gazette_ that long years since he had
ceased to draw from the model?

That wheel within wheels, the so-called Birmingham School, is
attracting attention just now, and men begin to prophesy of deeds from
out the midlands. But once upon a time there was a Newlyn School, was
there not? Where is that party now? Its foremost members have won to
the honours of the Royal Academy, and its mission is done. But it is
time to talk of schools when work has been done. Of course it is very
logical that good work should come from Birmingham. The sense of beauty
is stronger in those who live in midst of dirt and grime. Instance the
Glasgow school of impressionists. But the evidence of Birmingham at
present is but a touching follow-on to the styles of Mr. Crane and Mr.
Sumner, and to the ornament of Mr. Lewis Day. Indeed, the decorative
work of the students at the National Art Training Schools may be put in
the formula of one-third Crane, and the remaining two-thirds Heywood
Sumner and Lewis Day, an amalgam ill-considered and poorly wrought.

But indeed Mr. Heywood Sumner’s work has a note of distinction. He
does not confuse Socialist propaganda with ornament, and is not always
striving to show with emphasis of line in pen and ink that Capital is
the natural enemy of Labour, and that a silk hat on a rich man’s head
may justly be defined as so many loaves of bread (or pots of beer) in
the wrong place. That is for Mr. Crane and Mr. William Morris to prove;
and, really, anything wicked can be proven of such a hideous object.
But the onus of bringing the guilt home to it and the wearer of it does
not produce good art. Indeed, decorative art is not catholic; it has
no sort of commerce with everyday life or with the delineation of any
times so recent as the early years of the Victorian era. Its field lies
only in poetic imaginings, in fancy, and, most emphatically, not in
fact. When Mr. Crane, for instance, takes to idealising the heroic acts
of policemen, the impulse does credit to his heart, but the results
are not flattering to his head. Fortunately he does not often go these
lengths, and no one else of the decorative idea has been equally
courageous, save indeed a Mr. Beardsley, who “decoratively” illustrated
Orpheus at the Lyceum Theatre; and those illustrations in the _Pall
Mall Budget_, March 16, 1893, certainly were very dreadful.

An exception to the general beauty of recent decorative work is the
incomprehensible and at the same time unlovely practice of this
eccentric. Mr. Charles Ricketts’ work, although its meaning may often
be so subtly symbolical that it is not to be understood except by the
elect,—never without the aid of a glossary of symbolism,—is always
graced with interesting technicalities, and his draughtsmanship is of
the daintiest; but what of meaning is conveyed to the mind and what
of beauty to the eye in this work of Mr. Beardsley’s, that has been
somewhat spoken of lately? It has imagination certainly, but morbid and
neurotic, with a savour of Bethlehem Hospital and the charnel-house;
it is eccentric apparently with an eccentricity that clothes bad
draughtsmanship, and incongruous with an incongruity that suggests
the uninstructed enthusiasm of the provincial mind. It exhibits a
patchwork-quilt kind of eclecticism, born of a fleeting glance at
Durer; of a nodding acquaintance with all prominent modern decoration
and an irrelevant _soupçon_ of Renaissance ornament; like the work of a
lithographic draughtsman, a designer of bill-heads, roaming fancy free.

The practice of Mr. Selwyn Image has a devotional and meditative cast.
He has made some remarkable drawings for the _Hobby Horse_ in the
manner of the missal-painters, both in spirit and execution, and he
steadfastly keeps the art of the monkish scriptorium in view, and seems
to echo the sentiments of the rapturous maidens in _Patience_, “Let
us be Early English ere it is too late.” And he _is_ Early English to
excellent purpose.

It is a gross error to hold that decorative art is impossible under
present social conditions, and unpardonable to attempt to link
decoration and design to Socialist propaganda. Art of all possible
application never flourished so well as under the feudal system, and
never sank so low as it did when Democracy and the Trouser came in

The great advantages of Art over Photography are its personal
qualities. The camera is impersonal, and will ever be a scientific
instrument. You can, like the ingenious Mr. H. P. Robinson, pose
figures, and with a combination of negatives concoct a composition
which is some sort of cousin-german to a picture; but if you can do all
this, you might go a little farther and make a picture without the aid
of a camera. It would be personal, and, without a signature, signed all
over with the unmistakable mark of style or manner, like Constable’s

It seems unlikely that any mechanical processes, save the strictly
autographic, which reproduce line, will be of permanent artistic value.
No photogravure will be sought for and prized in years to come as the
old etchings and mezzotints are valued. Those elaborate photogravure
plates from popular or artistic pictures (the terms are not synonymous)
which crowd the print-sellers’ shops to-day, at five or ten guineas,
will not long hence be accounted dear at so many shillings, simply
because they lack the personal note. Meanwhile, mezzotints and
etchings, other than the “commercial” etching, will become inversely

In that brackish flood of “bitter cries” to which we have been
subjected of late years, the wail of the wood-engraver was easily to be
distinguished, and we heard that his occupation was gone. But has it?
No, nor will it go. No tint nor half-tone process can ever render
sufficiently well the wash drawings that the best engravers render
so admirably, with an entire subjection of their own individuality
unthought of twenty years ago. The wood-engraver, as one who imposes
restrictions upon technique, has had his day; but as a conscientious
and skilful workman, who renders faithfully the personality of the
artist he engraves, he flourishes, and will continue to flourish.
Otherwise, there is no hope for him, let Mr. Linton say what he will.
He will remain because he can preserve the personal note.

Half-tone processes are as tricky as Puck and as inconstant. You never
know the exact result you will get from any given drawing. Half a dozen
blocks from the same drawing will give, each one, a different result,
because so much depends upon the fraction of a second, more or less,
in making the negative; but all of them agree in presenting an aspect
similar to that obtained on looking through the wire blind of some
Philistine window upon the street. In all cases the edge, the poignancy
of the subject, is taken off, and, in the case of the process-block,
several intermediate tones go as well, with, frequently, the result of
an unnatural lighting “that never was on land or sea,” and it may be
hoped never will be.

No doubt half-tone processes will continue to be more and more widely
used, chiefly because they are several times cheaper than a good wood
engraving, and because, so far as mere documentary evidence goes,
they are good enough for illustrated journalism. But for bookwork,
for anything that is not calculated for an ephemeral consideration,
half-tone processes are only to be used with the most jealous care.

As regards the half-tone processes employed to reproduce photographs, I
take leave to say that no one will, a hundred years hence, prize them
for any quality. The necessary reticulation of their surface subtracts
from them something of the documentary value of the photograph, and,
deriving directly from photographs, they have no personal or artistic

But their present use touches the professional draughtsman nearly,
for in illustrated journalism half-tone is very frequently used in
reproducing photographs of places and people without the aid of the
artist, and it is no consolation for a man who finds his occupation
going for him to consider that these direct photographic processes have
no permanent interest. It is the new version of the old tale of the
stage-coach _versus_ the railway engine, to his mind, and he is apt
to think that as a craftsman he is fast following the wood-engraver.
But it is safe to say that although the mediocrities will suffer, or
be forced, like the miniature-painter who turned daguerrotypist and
then blossomed forth as a photographer, to study practical evolution,
the artists of style and distinction will rather gain than lose by a
further popularity of cheap photographic blocks. The illustrated papers
and magazines will not be so freely open to them as before, but in
the illustration of books will lie their chief field, and who knows
but that by such a time the pen-drawing and the drawing in wash will
have won at last to the picture-frame and the art galleries. There’s
distinction for you!

So much to show the value of personality.

Still it remains that, although the personal element will always be
valued, the fact—to paraphrase a sounding Ruskinian anathema—gives no
reason for flinging your identity in the face of your contemporaries,
or even of posterity (this last a long shot which few, with all the will
in the world, will be able to achieve). You may be startlingly original
and brilliant in technique, and be received with the acclaim that
always awaits a novelty; but if your personality be so exaggerated that
you allow it to override the due presentment of your subject, why,
then, your plaudits will not be of very long continuance.


It is to the painters that we owe some curious and original effects in
pen-drawing, that no professional pen-draughtsman who has studied the
science of reproduction could have given us, however independent his
attitude towards process.

[Illustration: 7¾ × 5. PASTURAGE.

_From a drawing by Mr. Alfred Hartley._]


Painters who have known nothing whatever of processes have from time
to time been called upon to make pen-drawings from their paintings for
reproduction in illustrated exhibition catalogues, and their drawings
have frequently been both of the most ludicrously impossible character
from the process point of view, and bad from the independent penman’s
standpoint. But a percentage of this painters’ pen-work, done as it was
with a free hand and an unprejudiced brain, is curiously instructive. A
very great number of painters’ pen-drawings have been made up to within
the last few years (since which time half-tone process blocks produced
from photos of their pictures have superseded them), and painters have
in no small measure helped to advance the science of process-work,
merely by reason of the difficulty of reproducing their drawings
adequately, and the consequent renewed efforts of the process-man
toward the adequate translation of their frequently untranslateable
qualities. The graver has been pressed into the service of process
partly on their account, and the roulette has been used freely to
assuage the crudities resulting on the block from drawings utterly
unsuitable for straight-away processing.

In this connection half-tone processes have done inestimable harm,
for, to-day, the catalogues and the illustrated papers are filled with
photographic reproductions of paintings where in other days autographic
sketches by the painters themselves were used to give a value that is
now lacking to these records of exhibitions.

They have frequently a heavy hand, these painters, and are prodigal
of their ink; moreover, they have not the paralyzing dread of
an immaculate sheet of white cardboard that seizes upon the
black-and-white man (so to call the illustrator), who is brought up
with the fear of the process-man before him.

Thus you will find Mr. Wyllie make pen-sketches from his pictures
with a masterful hand, and a pen (apparently a quill) that plumbs the
deepest depths of the inkpot, and produces a robustious drawing that
wrings conviction out of one by the thickness and surety of its lines;
or again, Mr. Blake Wirgman shows equal vigour and directness with
portraits in pen-and-ink, replicas in little of his oil-paintings. One
could desire nothing more masculine than the accompanying illustration
from his hand.

[Illustration: 18 × 10½. TOWING PATH, ABINGDON.

_From a drawing by Mr. David Murray._]


A striking exception to these is seen in Mr. Alfred Hartley’s drawing
of a pasturage. It is full of tender, pearly greys, and is drawn with
the lightest of hands, but with a peculiar disposition of pen-strokes
that no professional pen-draughtsman would employ, because of his
constant care to give the process-man the easiest of problems. And
the autocrat of the rocking-bath and the etching-room would veto such
work as this; yet, you will observe, it comes excellently well by the
ordinary zinc processes.

But with Mr. David Murray’s large pen-drawing it was another matter.
The greyness of the ink with which it was drawn and the extreme tenuity
of its lines rendered it impossible of adequate reproduction except by
the swelled gelatine process which has been employed. The result is
admirable; all the fine grey lines in the sky are reproduced and give
an excellent effect.

The portrait of the painter, Mr. Bonnat, by himself, is one of the
most suggestive pen-drawings that can be found anywhere. It shows what
admirable effects of light and shade and modelling can be obtained even
with the heavy hand, and it is worthy careful study.

Unfortunately the illustrations in the long series of _Academy Notes_,
in which so many autographic sketches by painters appear, are almost
useless for study and comparison, because of the extreme reduction to
which they have been subjected. This is greatly to be deplored, for
the tendency of the times is more and more towards drawing for the
limitations of process, not only in journalism, but in the more
permanent illustrations of magazines and books. All this tends to bring
about a hard and formal line, to establish a dry and unsatisfactory
academic manner, of which the painter’s pen sketches are the very
antithesis. It is always well to remember that the only valid reason
why process should live is that it enables the draughtsman to live his
life at first hand; that is the first and last argument in favour of
modern methods of reproduction.


                          LONDON AND BECCLES.

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[Illustration: Harry Furniss’s Illustrated Weekly London Letter]

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                     they have to work almost solely for process.
  Weekly Scotsman
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     Weekly Post.

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                    London Boards.
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  Reeves’           Black & White
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           FIXED INDIAN INK,

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                     BY ALL THE LATEST PROCESSES.

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BUSINESS is conducted nowadays on many different principles. Ours
is to supply only the highest class of artistic engraving of every
description at the lowest price admitting of fair payment to all
concerned in its production. All special methods are within our scope,
and will be employed when called for by the exceptional requirements of
any order entrusted to us.


                 Wax Engravings of Maps, Diagrams, &c.


                           WATERLOW & SONS,


              _Photographic Art Printers and Engravers,_

                     FINSBURY WORKS, LONDON, E.C.

                         Photo-Mechanical Printing.

    _Collotype._—Hand and Machine Printing for Art
        Publications, Scientific and Antiquarian
        Periodicals, Machinery, Landscapes, Portraits,
        Pottery, Furniture Designs, Trade Advertisements,
        &c. The superior results given by this process, and
        the rapidity and cheapness by which the prints are
        produced, together with the advantage of printing
        with or without margins, place it in the first rank
        of processes for commercial purposes.

    MESSRS. WATERLOW & SONS, LIMITED, have given this
        branch of the Photo-Printing Department special
        facilities for the production of good work, and
        have introduced the most perfect machinery and
        plant obtainable.

    _Woodbury Prints._—High-class permanent copies,
        equal in appearance to the best Silver Prints, of
        Portraits, Landscapes, Furniture, Pottery, &c.
        Prints may be obtained in almost any colour from
        Customers’ own Negatives, or from the original
        objects. These reproductions are specially suitable
        for Portrait work, and are valuable for every
        description of Artistic or Commercial Illustrations.

    _Photo-Binco Engraving._—Blocks for Surface Printing,
        from Line and Grained-paper Drawings, Steel
        and Copper Plates, Wood Engravings, &c., &c.
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    The greatest care and skill is employed in the
        production of these Blocks, and the results are the
        finest which it is possible to obtain.

    The new and extensive Photographic Works being fitted
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