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Keeping Whites, White

In a graphite drawing, artists create highlights by withholding graphite from letting the white paper show through. One way to keep areas truly white is by masking them with a frisket. While you probably will not need to use a mask for every drawing, friskets are an extremely useful tool in graphite art. Friskets come in two forms, liquid and film. Each serves the same purpose, but the one you choose to use depends on the shape and size of the area you are protecting. Since it conceals the are where it is applied, it allows you to do your shading without affecting the lighter portions of your drawing.


Liquid Frisket is commonly made of a mixture of natural latex. This product works especially well for masking small areas, like highlights in the eyes. Make sure the liquid Frisket you choose is for use on paper, easily removable, and non-staining. Friskets are usually applied with a tool called a "Nib", which is a pencil shaped stick with either a pointed or angled end. The "Nib" is dipped in water, and then into the Frisket, which thins it slightly before application on your paper. You will need to allow the Frsiket to dry completely before trying to work on you drawing. It should also be completely dry before you try to remove it, otherwise you may damage you paper. Full drying may take 30 minutes to an hour. Once Liquid Frisket dries, it usually comes off easily by being rubbed with your finger or an eraser.


Another method of masking is Frisket Film, which is commonly used for air brushing. Frisket Film is sold in sheets that have a slightly adhesive back. They can be cut in any shape or size and applied to the areas you want to protect. This makes it the best choice for masking large areas. Most Frisket films peel easily from paper when you are done. There are also several types of Artists Tapes which can serve the same purpose.


What if you're drawing on tinted paper? Friskets can still be useful in protecting the areas where you will later apply highlights. Once removed, you can add in your white highlights with white charcoal, or a white pastel chalk pencil. Masking with frisket can also help you create beautiful effects with watercolor or other mediums.


In conclusion, Liquid Frisket, Frisket Film, or Artists Tape are useful tools to protect areas in your drawing that you want to keep white. Follow the directions for application, and you should see some great results.


In the next article . . .


After masking, it's time to start drawing! Usually it's easier to begin with the darkest areas of your drawing. But how do you get those dark shades of black?


Read about the different grades of graphite in Making Blacks, Black.

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All content and original art works © Nicole I. Hamilton.

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