Using Templates and Masks with Smudging
Some people love to smear, smudge, or soften their charcoal drawings with brushes, rags, or stomps. When smearing a drawing or applying tone with a rag or brush you can’t get a distinct edge without help. Of course you can redevelop the area with charcoal stick or pencil. Sometimes though you may want to keep your values soft or you may just want to protect an area from charcoal. A great way to create crisp edges or protect areas from charcoal is with masks or templates. Any piece of paper can be cut and used as a template. This doesn’t have to be complex. For instance if I need a clean edge and I am adding charcoal with a rag or brush, I can simply lay down a piece of paper with a straight edge. When I add value along the edge of the paper, the paper will protect the covered area and leave a razor edge where I rubbed charcoal along the edge of the paper. You can cut out all kinds of shapes to create a clean edge. You can use doilies, napkins, paper snowflakes. Almost anything can be used as a mask to creates interesting effects and textures. Give this a try. Just remember, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of using technique for technique’s sake. Use this as a means to an end, not an end in itself.