This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
407. In retouching and modeling low necks we have one of the most dreaded and difficult portions of the negative to work upon, for it requires a considerable amount of work and very careful handling on the part of the retoucher, especially when the subject is gowned in evening dress, or, with draped subjects, where the entire neck and portions of the shoulders, arms and bust are shown.
408. Many retouchers have made reputations, not only for themselves, but also for their employers, by the skillful manner in which they eliminate and build up a faulty neck and bust, giving a pleasing appearance to the subject. To accomplish this not only is careful work required, but some little knowledge of anatomy and also a knowledge of handling the etching tool, for the objectionable lines must be given a graceful form and the angles rounded, as well as the high-lights reduced by thinning down. All this can be done perfectly by means of the pencil, etching knife and reducing paste.
409. While many necks and shoulders are thin and have heavy lines, caused by veins, arteries and cords of the neck, yet the majority of these lines are magnified by the turning of the neck to produce some certain pose of the head. Then, too, very few necks are perfectly formed. In cases of square necks the corners should be etched - rounded - with the knife, nicely curving the neck, and the
hollows filled in by a heavy application of the lead. Shoulders are often angular and should be treated in the same way, to secure graceful curves. Referring to Illustration No. 23, you will observe in Figure 1 the appearance of a print from a negative of this type. Notice the imperfections and the contrasty lights and shades on the neck, which are very objectionable. The shoulders, also, are quite angular, the neck appears thin, and the drapery falls a little too low on the arm.
410. The first point to consider must be the outline of the neck and shoulder, and by referring to Figure 1 of Illustration No. 23, you will observe that the shoulders are very much out of balance. In Figure 2 the shoulders have been outlined and the work of reducing the objectionable high-lights begun. It will not do to build up the shoulder on the shadow side equal to the high-light side, but you can curve the straight lines and make the distinction less conspicuous.
411. Before attempting to do any work on the negative, first make a proof-print and do your outlining on the print. When you have this outlined to your satisfaction, then take up the negative and use the proof-print for your guide.
412. The first work upon the negative should be the outlining of the neck and shoulders. With this done, next proceed to reduce the high-lights on the shadow shoulder; following this, you reduce the collar-bone which shows so prominently on the neck. This reducing is done with the reducing paste. As these lights do not generally spread over any great amount of surface, and as their outlines are somewhat sharp, the reducing paste cannot always be applied practically with the finger tip. Either make a stump by winding some cotton on the end of a match or pointed piece of soft pine wood, or else secure a small chamois stump from an art store. The stump will be the more practical and serviceable if you can obtain one; but be very careful that you do not apply the reducing paste or rub the film outside of the high-light, for you must not
Illustration No. 23 Subject in Decollete' - Practical Application of the Etching Knife.
See Paragraph 410.
CHILD PORTRAIT STUDY.
Study No. 6
J. E. Mock
reduce the shadows or half-tones surrounding the highlight.
413. The other points of light which are in too high a key will have to be reduced with the etching knife, and the shadows then built up, using a soft pencil, either a B or a BB lead. With these spots reduced to their proper tone, next, with the etching knife, cut away the portions of the shoulder outside of the outline, scraping it away until it matches perfectly with the background. Give a graceful curve to the outlines of both neck and shoulders, and be very careful that no harsh lines exist between the flesh and the background. The edge should be shaved a trifle, so as to give a soft blending or rounding away of the flesh. In etching, and also in applying the reducing paste, be very careful that you do not reduce portions which do not require it.
414. With the etching accomplished you are now ready to prepare the plate for retouching; so apply the dope in the usual way, covering all the surface you expect to work, including the etched parts. Then proceed in the usual way to retouch the negative, beginning at the forehead, and working downward until you have completed the work.
415. If you have penciled considerably on the negative, so that some portions refuse to take on any more lead, although they have not yet been built up as far as you desire, then flow the negative with the retouching varnish and allow it to dry. The entire surface will again have a fresh tooth, and you can proceed anew with the penciling. Sometimes, in very transparent shadows, in place of varnishing the entire negative it is a good plan to apply a small drop of the dope with the end of a toothpick to the parts you wish to build up further. By rubbing this small space with a circular motion and very lightly, you will get a better tooth, sufficient perhaps, to complete the work. In this case the entire surface should not be rubbed as you would ordinarily apply the dope, for the lighter you rub the surface the more tooth you will have, and as these shadows are sometimes very deep, requiring a great
deal of work, you will want all the tooth you can possibly obtain.
416. Too hard a lead, such as the HH or the HHH, is not at all suitable for work on these portions, as the imperfections would be glazed over before a sufficient amount of the lead had been deposited. For this reason the B or BB pencil is the most serviceable. When the shadows are deep a heavy stroke will do no harm, yet it is best to work only a trifle heavier than usual, and then go over the work a number of times. Heavy application of the lead at first will tend to make the surface of the film slippery, so that you cannot apply as much of the lead as you can by working lightly. Even then you may find it necessary to varnish the entire plate with the negative varnish, giving it a fresh tooth, and working over the varnished surface once more. Full instruction for applying the negative varnish is given in Chapter II (Preparatory Instruction).
417. Figure 3 of Illustration No. 23 shows the work of modeling and shaping the neck completed. This negative being quite soft and mellow required but very little penciling after the strong high-lights were reduced. Observe how with a few strokes of the pencil and etcher drapery has been added onto the right arm of the subject. Note the folds in the drapery; they are not straight, but one overlaps the other, some catching the light at one angle, other folds running crossways and underneath the top ones, at a different angle, giving a perfectly natural, soft effect.