I was pleased to use the view that I sketched in the previous exercise of the skyline over Manchester from across the Irwell river. In this scene I was able to capture all sorts of contrasting textures as the old cathedral and remains of what looked like a castle met the solid steel of the new aged office buildings, trees and park land, all set above a plummeting weathered stone wall, scarred with centuries of river flow, rain and baking sun. It was a great spot to capture the different ages of Manchester built level by level on top of each other.
The hardest thing I found with recording the original was keeping track of the perspective while concentrating on the detail. Being a skyline the perspective was minimal anyway, which made it more difficult as I found myself flattening everything out so that it looked more like a cardboard cut out. This also came through when I was copying a copy, naturally, but since the exercise was more about detail and texture I didn’t mind too much.
I tried out a few techniques with the conte sticks before I was happy enough with the desired effect to describe the depth and contrast. This took a little while playing around with applying different pressures to gain depth to lightly applying the numerous colours sanguine, sepia and black. The black was very harsh and had to be used lightly only to enhance the darkest shadows. I found that the best method was to colour the whole picture with sanguine using varying pressure to darken the shadow while leaving the white of the paper to shine through the highlights.
Pressing too hard on the sanguine would saturate it into a block of colour, but by keeping it light I could then touch up the darker areas and sparingly us the black to help with windows and the very darkest shades in the nearby buildings. To create a sense of aerial perspective I only used the sanguine with a much lighter stroke, blocking the colour in more heavily for the darker tones which still kept the overall shading in the background rather light giving the picture more depth.
The building in the centre I left almost white and set it in contrast with the darkest shades of the buildings behind it giving the composition an interesting focal point and the detail I managed to record in the original line drawing was sufficient enough for me to capture the depth of the skyline.
Now I’ve got a bit more of a grasp on using conte sticks, this limited palette would work well with still life, figures and faces.