Painting Your Ligature

Painting your Ligature

Follow these steps so you can start painting your ligature soon. I’ll keep you posted on when we’ll be doing this in class so you’ll be prepared.

If your ligature is not yet resolved, don’t worry; we’ll work through it and you can start painting it over the weekend. Follow these steps in the meantime:

Get your supplies.

1) If you haven’t already, go to Utrecht or Dick Blick and buy

ultra smooth bright white Illustration board,

ROUND brushes

two containers and your Plaka.

Make sure you have your rulers, pencils, tape and tracing paper.

An eraser and sharpener are needed, too.

Get a pair of disposable chopsticks.

The board: Bainbridge, Crescent, Caslon.

2) Trim it down to THREE 7″ x 7″ inch boards, using the metal ruler and your Exacto knife. Here’s how you do it:

a) Measure the 7″ x 7″ board with your transparent ruler. Draw the measurement LIGHTLY with a hard-lead pencil (6H)

b) LIGHTLY score the board with your knife. DON’T try to cut it in one hit. It won’t work. If you’re bent on doing this, buy two boards.

The reason you’re using a hard pencil to make measurements is to make a light-colored line. Don’t dig into the board with the pencil. The graphite is hard and will leave a dent. The same is true for when you transfer your work from the tracing paper to the board (You’ll see this later).

c) Cut the board, this time pressing the knife slightly harder and thereby digging deeper into the board. Eventually you will have cut deep enough that you won’t need the ruler and you can glide the knife down the score. It will come apart by itself. Don’t pull it apart like a cave dweller. Save the scraps.

3) Measure, then LIGHTLY draw a 5″ x 5″ square centered on the board–or just the corners of a 5″x5″ square, again with your 6H. Make a cover sheet with tracing paper and tape the flap to the back. If you have to, use a KNEADED eraser to get rid of your fingerprints. Don’t do this later.

Write your name on the back.

4) Take out your plaka and chop sitcks. Put on some good music or intelligent talk radio like NPR. At first boring, yes, but very insightful. And, NPR won’t exist soon; it’s going extinct.  Pick of the album of the week:

Even if you’re not wild about the music, the animation is work a look.

Now mix your plaka. Pull apart your chopsticks, using one chopstick for black, one for white. Dole out about a teaspoon of one color plaka into one of the two containers. Add an equal amount of water and mix. This will take 5 minutes or so. When it’s smooth, pour enough water up to about 1/3 of your container. Mix again. Add enough water to bring the level to 1/2 of your container and mix again. Another 5 minutes or so. It should be a smooth, velvety texture. Err on the side of thinness.

Take out your brushes. Rinse them with water and dab them with a paper towel. On the scraps you saved, practice painting, thinning out the Plaka if necessary and getting the hang for how thick or thin it should be. See how straight you can paint a line. If you want, Try this: put three or four nickels under the ruler, holding them on with tape. With a little practice, you can draw a straight line with your brush and not need an ink line from a pen.

Paint curves. Practice how much Plaka on the brush is comfortable for you. Make note of how long it takes to dry.

5) If the design work of your ligature is resolved, make a 5″ x 5″ bxw laser of it. The ligature should measure 5″ in at least one direction. tape it down. Cover it with a clean sheet of tracing paper.

With a totally sharp 6H pencil, trace your ligature on tracing paper.

Take your time. Tape everything down: the laser to the table, the tracing to the laser or the table. Use a ruler for the straight lines.

Free hand the curves; borrow my french curves if you want.

Think about a happy life and world peace and how you will contribute–and maybe achieve–both.

Maybe we’ll even have a new president in next year. Or maybe not.

6) Turn your tracing paper over and with a very soft pencil, a 6B, smudge the back of your ligature…only where the lines are so you can see it place it and it doesn’t smudge your board.

7) Get your board. Lift the cover sheet and tape the board down to the table. Center the tracing paper with your ligature within the 5″ x 5″ square and tape down. It helps to reduce some of the stickiness of the tape with your finger so you don’t strafe the surface of the board when you pull the tape off.

8) Tape this piece of tracing paper, graphite side down, to the board, making sure it fits within the margins. Holding your ultra-sharp 6H pencil as perpendicularly as you can to the surface, trace, over your ligature, thereby transferring it to the board. Don’t press too hard, you’ll indent the board and painting it will be impossible. Put the coversheet on after you lightly burr off any fingerprints with your kneaded eraser.

AWESOME! take a rest from it and start painting a few hours later. Take a walk around the block or look out the window. If you jump right in, you’ll botch it up. 

Author: Anita Giraldo

Hi, I'm Professor Anita Giraldo. I teach and write courses in design, photography, design theory and creative project management in the Communication Design department at the New York City College of Technology. At City Tech, my signature project is the design, furnishing and implementation of The Pearl media study center, a $5M capital project funded by the New York State Department of Education and coordinated by the New York State City University of New York. Before coming to City Tech, I have worked as an installation artist, designer and fine art print maker. My work has been and continues to be exhibited nationally and internationally and has received funding on the city, state, national, international private level through grants, fellowships purchase princess and residencies. Before that I was the sole proprietor of my own commercial photography studio where I executed numerous national advertising campaigns for fashion and still life clients and consumer catalogs. Throughout the graphic arts industry I have been manufacturing director for international art magazines and production managed consumer magazines such as "Time Out New York,Art + Auction, Saveur and many others. All of these experiences began shortly after I finished art school with my first job as an illustrated book designer in the Studio Book division at Viking Press/Penguin Books.

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