John Jānis Šteins

:: Artist ::

Chapter 7



AFTER the block has been blackened the design is then traced on to its surface by means of yellow or red carbon paper, and in doing this it is important to remember that the design will be shown in reverse in the print. If the drawing is of some building, street, or other subject which ought to come out the right way round, it should be reversed in transferring it to the block. If the design is very complicated it may be photographed straight on to the block.

The advantage of this method is that if one wishes to reduce the drawing, this can be done so much more easily with the camera. The disadvantage is that the lines one cuts are much less easily seen than on a blackened block. On one occasion I wished to engrave on a block which was half the size of the rather complicated drawing I wanted to work from, and I found that my simplest method was to trace the drawing on to black scraper-board. on which I then cut the main lines and outlines of the forms, before having it photographed half the size on to my block. Except for the white lines which had been cut on the scraper-board, the whole surface of the block was black, and I was saved the trouble of squaring up, reducing, and re-drawing my design. In most cases, however, tracing-paper and carbon paper are all that one requires.

Some artists work out their designs in white chalk on black paper, but with a little experience the beginner quickly learns how to think in terms of white on black, and should find no great difficulty in working from a pencil or wash drawing while translating his tones into those of the wood-engraver. If he has any difficulty in doing so he should get some scraper-board on which to work out his design before starting on the wood.

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