Earlier this week, a reader asked if Charlie would explain a bit about how he made his black and white pictures. I put it to Charlie, and he graciously replied:
"Glad to help....but haven't a clue whether any of this is available these days. Something similar should be. Tools....plain old wooden pen holder. Pen points: 'Hunt' number 303 and Globe (little nib, like a bank pen)....Windsor Newton numbers 2 and 4 sable brushes....Higgins India ink, or equivalent..."
"...and, (this is no longer made, in fact) Whatman hot press, or surface No. 1, illustration board. Mother is....no....necessity is the mother of invention....and something could be conjured up these days to work, I'm sure!"
All that sounded great -- but I had a feeling the illustrators out there would want even more detail. So I pressed Charlie to elaborate - and, gentleman that he is, he accommodated me:
"WOW....A complete art lesson! OK.....one steel spot per day, at least. 3 to 4 days to complete the four illustrations. Thumbnails for a beginning, then a charcoal pencil comp for BBD&O..."
"... then part Lucy and part drawing on the finished board. As with cars, certain parts can be 'Lucied', (faces for example) and the rest interpreted, or drawn. Then the ink rendering..."
"...and the reason I loved Whatman Board was that it could be erased. I had an electric eraser....and used it a lot! Some illustrations resembled a 'battlefield'! Hope this helps....but, as I learned early on, you learn by doing. And every illustrator I knew had HIS way of getting the job done!
But Charlie wasn't finished sharing his wisdom just yet. So here's some more from the master of black and white:
"Now...take cover....art lesson coming! On every color illustration since the dawn of man, the illustrator has to juggle four main elements (like a four ball juggler)....drawing, composition or design, values, and color."
"Color is the least important....the other three equally important. Best example of this was Robert Fawcett. His color was of least importance....on the other three he excelled. On B&W line art, the elements are drawing, composition, values (if halftone screen is added) and texture. Texture is the added challenge....and a lot of artists never 'got it'. "
"Have no idea why I started all this...except to say a good color illustration should photograph well in B&W halftone....and I think these 24 sheet posters do."
Whew! Many thanks to Charlie Allen for sharing such a wealth of art and information with us this week! I know I'm not alone in saying how much we learned from - and enjoyed - his invaluable contributions.
My Charlie Allen Flickr set.