WE HAVE now reached a point in our discussion of sketching and rendering where it seems advisahle for us to give additional attention to methods of indicating brickwork, stonework, claphoarded and shingled walls, slate and tile roofs, etc., and such details as chimneys, dormers, cornices and doorways, for it is plain that unless the student learns to nicely suggest these various component parts he cannot hope to make an excellent drawing of a building as a whole, any more than a portrait painter can obtain a satisfactory likeness of a person without a knowledge of how to draw the ear and the eye and the mouth. These representations of chimneys and dormers and the like, are. in other words, the draftsman's alphabet, - the A B C's that he should learn before attempting difficult compositions.
In previous chapters a few instructions of a general nature for the drawing of such portions of buildings have already been given, so the present text with its accompanying illustrations is mainly an amplification of these earlier suggestions. If repetition is found it is because certain points seem worth repeating, for the importance of the subject is such that it deserves elaboration.
Unfortunately for the beginner there are few definite rules to help him in such sketching, for each artist develops methods of his own which he varies from time to time as he feels inclined, choosing always the one which seems appropriate to his particular problem. Naturally his manner of working differs, too, according to the size at which the details are to be drawn, for it is obvious that a window, for example, shown at one-quarter inch to the foot, requires treatment decidedly different from that demanded by the same object presented at a much larger scale.
Because there are so many methods of indication in common use it is not strange that students feel uncertainty as to just how to approach a problem of this nature. Of course in theory it is best to turn to actual buildings and to landscape for inspiration and practice, observing and sketching the desired details directly from the buildings and their surroundings. The average student finds it rather difficult, however, to work in this way without considerable preliminary preparation, and therefore, valuable as such practice undeniably is, the beginner can perhaps learn more at first (as we have explained in a previous chapter) by studying good drawings, copying portions of them over and over again, later applying the ideas thus acquired to similar original problems.
The plates which accompany this text show certain methods of indicating such details as we mention and it might be well to make copies of some of these, not, however, blindly imitating the manner of handling. Give, instead, serious thought as to why they were done in this way, for each line and tone should be made with a definite purpose. As these sketches offer only a few of many possible methods do not rest content with copying parts of them, but study other similar drawings and copy some of them, too, in order to learn additional tricks of indication. In all of this work if you feel that you can obtain equally good results by a slightly different process, do so, for it is by no means necessary to reproduce the original from which you are drawing line for line, so long as the same general effect is gained. If you supplement this copy work with sketching from the photograph and from nature, using both broad and fine lines, on all sorts of paper and with pencils of various kinds and grades, your efforts will surely bring increased skill and a natural individual style will be gradually acquired.
It is usually best to adopt some standard size sketching paper, the notebook proportion of 8" by 10 1/2" being convenient for the smaller sketches. A cover for preserving sheets of this size can be secured easily. It seems advisable to retain all such sketches or at least the best of them, for this gives you the opportunity to note your progress from time to time, and the drawings themselves may prove of great help when making finished renderings. Group a number of sketches of similar subjects on one sheet, so arranged that they permit easy comparison, - have, for instance, sketches of chimneys drawn with a fine line on one, others done with a broad line on another, dormer windows on a third, details of stonework on a fourth, and so on.
Before proceeding with our discussion of the plates it may perhaps be well to once more warn the student, especially the architectural draftsman, never to attempt to draw every tiny detail that he knows to exist. It is not strange that one so familiar as he is with all the variety of small units which go to make up a building finds it difficult to remain free from the desire to overemphasize the importance of some of them. The mere fact that one has been trained to accurately draw each detail, whether large or small, when making an instrumental elevation of a portion of a building, acts as a hindrance when it comes to pictorial representation, where we are striving to gain the effect of the whole in a broad, direct manner in a comparatively short space of time. As an illustration of the fact that an accurate instrumental elevation gives less of the true appearance than does a sketch of the right sort with the nonessential lines omitted or subordinated we have made two drawings at A and B, Figure 33, of a typical cornice such as we might find at the eaves of a Colonial residence. The one at A is done instrumentally at the scale of l/2"=l'-0" and is a copy of an actual working drawing. Such a mechanical representation as this, offers, of course, an accurate statement of certain facts of form, but it stops there. It gives us a wrong sense of the values, for the numerous lines necessary to bound the various members form a dark mass on parts which in the executed work might appear rather light, and there is nothing to show the difference in tone between the brick and wood. In a sketch or rendering, on the other hand, we usually work for an effect of reality, and even though certain details are of necessity slighted, by means of a free handling we are able to suggest in addition to facts of form, the light and the shade and the tone and texture of the materials. In the sketch at B we have attempted such an indication of the cornice shown at A, striving to gain approximately the same relative values as might be found in nature. The brickwork is shown darker in the shadow than in the light, as is the white woodwork, too, while the shingles are given a tone which quite accurately suggests the color that they might appear in the direct rays of the sun. As this particular sketch is at a fairly large scale it has been possible to retain most of the fine detail shown at A, but if a smaller rendered drawing of the same cornice were to be made it would probably prove necessary to further simplify the subject.