I do not propose to give a detailed account of the actual mechanical processes by which drawings are made into blocks and are subsequently printed because, even if I understood these processes myself, I should be quite unable to explain them clearly without a complete set of photographs of the machinery employed, an unwarrantable addition to a book of this scope. But let me say that I am convinced that it is of great help for every fashion artist to have seen, just once in his life, a block being made from a line drawing and one from a half-tone drawing. Certainly the very inconsiderable limitations imposed on the artist by each particular method of reproduction will no longer seem arbitrary ; indeed, it may become something of a marvel to him that the ministrations of seven skilled craftsmen should have so little power to mar the effectiveness of his original drawing. A much fuller and better account than mine can be found in a book called " Printing in the Twentieth Century," published by The Times Publishing Co. Ltd., Printing House Square.

It is not, of course, so much the business of the artist himself, as of the art editor or the advertising manager, to understand the reproduction of drawings from A to Z. If a man in their position has been through a block-maker's (not as a sightseer but as a worker), he can not only get the best results from his artists, but can save his firm hundreds of pounds a year. But in the surprisingly rare cases where the advertising manager or art editor really knows this part of his job at all thoroughly, he is much too busy to spend his time training a novice, or prefers to employ an artist who is distinguishable from another only by his having some knowledge of how his drawings will reproduce.

Leaving colour work on one side for a moment, we may divide drawings, and the blocks that are made from them, into two classes, line and half-tone.

A line drawing can be reproduced at half the cost of a half-tone and without loss of effect, on paper where no half-tone could survive. This makes it the more generally used for all daily paper advertising, where the paper used is extremely porous. Good examples of a line drawing are the two small fur drawings on pi. 16, and the drawings by Martin on pi. 27 and pi. 36.

Line blocks are usually made of zinc, as this can be engraved to a greater depth than copper, which is used for a line block only when great delicacy is required. The drawing is photographed to the required size on to a piece of sensitised glass, and then transferred to sensitised zinc, where it appears in reverse.

If you have ever seen the copper plate on which an artist has made an etching

you must think of exactly the reverse to get an idea of the ordinary line block. In the former case the lines of the drawing are bitten into the plate and form channels for the printing ink. In a line block, on the other hand, it is those parts which are to appear white, when printed, that are bitten away by acid ; so that the resultant plate bears the image of the original drawing in the form of raised lines (and reversed, as we have seen). This is known as relief printing, photogravure being an example of intaglio printing ; and etching the same, I suppose.

The whole making of a line block has been so completely reduced to a mechanical process that you cannot expect your drawing to acquire qualities, or get rid of defects, while being reproduced. The smallest inconsidered stroke of the pen will be perfectly preserved, so long as it is definitely visible to the eye.

It is essential to know to what extent your drawing is to be reduced, the ideal ratio for line work being that the original shall be from a third to a half bigger in area than the resultant block.

A thing you have to be prepared for is the closing in of the lines in a passage of cross-hatching. For example, in the drawing by Martin (pi. 27), the two bands round the frame of the portrait appear nearly the same tone as the hair, which is quite black. In the original, which was about four times the area, these passages of triple hatching appeared much more open and light. An experienced artist, then, who sees in his mind's eye the reproduction while he is yet doing the original, is not wasting his time in doing a piece of triple-hatching which will be lost (as such) when the drawing is reproduced, but, in allowing for this, is calculating on having two blacks of contrasted quality. The chest of drawers, in the same picture, has grown proportionately less dark than the other because, being only cross-hatched, there are only two sets of lines to close in on each other.

An even tint (there are numerous designs and densities of these) can be laid over any part of a line block if the exact area is indicated on the original. The way to do this is not to put a wash over the part that is to receive a tone, but to shade lightly and evenly with a blue pencil. Blue does not photograph up and the blue pencil shading is merely an indication to the block-maker who lays what is known as a mechanical tint. All you need know about this is that it is done always by hand and sometimes in a hurry and that you must not, therefore, be too subtle in the outline that you require your tint to have nor break it up into several small pieces. Nor is it advisable to call for small pieces of tone that are unrelated to some part of the outline of your drawing. Do not, for example, indicate some feature, like the bow in the middle of a dress or the lips on a face, by tone unsupported by any outline whatever ; as the precise shape and position of these things will be entirely at the mercy of somebody else's lack of time and skill, although it must be admitted that the tint layer is usually a clever imaginative artist in his way. An example of mechanical tint on a line drawing is pi. 226.

Fashion Drawing Sections

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