Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tricks of the Trade #1: Twin-Brush Technique

Most of us have found ourself sketching on location, with one hand dedicated to balancing a journal or drawing board and one alternating between applying color, setting down the first brush, then quickly picking up a water brush to create gradations before our color wash dries out. Labor-intensive? Yes. Exhausting? You bet. No other option? Well.... Enter the twin-brush technique.

This is a technique that I was introduced to some time back by a Chinese calligraphy master and quickly found that, with just a little practice, it quickly became second-nature -- and has become such a wonderful time-saver!

To begin with, one brush (hereafter referred to as the "water brush") is cradled horizontally between the fleshy web twixt thumb and index finger, and the crotch between index and middle finger. (Note: this brush will also be behind the vertical ink brush.)

The second ("ink") brush is held vertically in front of the horizontal water brush -- pinned between the tip of your thumb and first joint from the knuckle of the index finger. The tips of the index and middle fingers are on the far side of the vertical brush, while the tips of the ring and little fingers are on its near side. As depicted above, the combination creates a t-shaped arrangement in the hand and is very comfortable to work with.

Once an area of ink has been applied to artwork, the index finger is used to rotate the tip of the horizontal/water brush downward till it is under the tip of the middle finger.

The combined index and middle fingers continue to rotate the water brush down until it is parallel to the  vertical ink brush -- with the ink brush still in front of the water brush. The tips of the ring and little fingers move to the far side of the brushes.

The two brushes are now rotated around a vertical axis to reverse their positions, using a counterclockwise side movement of the thumb and index finger. (The water brush is now in front, the ink brush to the rear.)

Next, the tip of the middle finger is slipped beneath the rear/ink brush and are used to rotate the brush upwards to the horizontal position.

Finally, the ring and little fingers are returned to the near side of the vertical/water brush, and the tip of the thumb to the first joint of the index finger. This technique can then repeated as necessary until the sketch is completed.

I've tried to be as specific as possible in the written description, just in case the illustrations are not clear enough on their own. But, just in case the description risks making this technique sound too convoluted, I've also included the 5 second video below. (We are, after all, visual people. Aren't we?) Once you've practiced this technique a few times your hand should feel relaxed and stress-free, with the two brushes in complete harmony.


So, hopefully, you'll find this little "trick of the trade" of interest, and will give it a try. In future articles I'll try to offer additional "tricks" to tickle your fancy and expand your creative options. Thanks again for letting me share with you. Cheers!

PS, if you see, or read about, a particular tool or brand that interests you but is not currently available in your area, please consider visiting my new Art Supplies & Provisions Online page. (You can also find a link in the menu at the top of this blog.) There you will find tools, equipment, media, and supplies that I have tested thoroughly and am happy to recommend highly.  

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful tutorial, thank you, I didn't know about it but used it in my sketches in similar way, a little more twisted. :-)