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.
Why Pencil Strokes Show. (a) The pencil is too soft. Use a harder one. For the beginner an HHH is preferable, (b) Too much pressure is brought to bear on the pencil. You should use a very light stroke; in fact, you should not be able to see the effect of one single stroke, (c) An insufficient number of strokes have been used, thus showing each individual stroke. You should use enough strokes to break up the imperfection, and, although there should be a looseness or grain effect, you should not be able to distinguish individual pencil strokes, (d) You are sitting too close to your work; so close that you see each pencil stroke, and no matter how close you may place them together you will still detect the pencil strokes. Sit as far away from your work as possible to work conveniently. The eyes should be from 18 to 24 inches from the negative.
Hand And Fingers Become Cramped. Unless you grasp your pencil in the correct manner, and have your hand and wrist perfectly straight, your hand and fingers will become cramped. At times the beginner, even if he is holding the pencil properly, will
meet with this difficulty. In time, however, he will overcome this. Rest your hand occasionally by laying the pencil down; then close d open the hand a number of times, spreading the fingers apart rractice will soon enable you to overcome this difficulty.
Wrist Becomes Cramped. This is because either your hand or your elbow is not being properly supported. It may be necessary for you to use a cushion of good size under the elbow, or possibly you are using one that is too large. A little practice will soon enable you to assume an easy position and there will be no danger of your wrist becoming cramped.
Eyes Becoming Tired. The beginner usually strains his eyes in a vain effort to see the various imperfections. Do not try
to see too much, nor to remove too much at the very first. Take your time and proceed in a systematic way. Remove one imperfection before attempting to work on another. If your eyes feel at all tired, sit back in your chair and place a piece of dark paper over the negative. This will rest your eyes and as soon as they feel easier start in again. Oftentimes the failure to exclude all light, except that which passes through the negative, will cause the eyes to become tired. Be sure that you use a piece of dark cloth over the top of your retouching desk and head, so as to exclude all light except that which passes through the opening in the retouching desk.
108. What is Meant by "Tooth." - When we speak of the retouching dope supplying a "tooth" to the negative, we mean that it supplies a surface which readily takes the lead. If there is no tooth the lead will not adhere. If there is too much tooth, or if the surface of the film is too sticky, it takes lead too readily, and it will be impossible to produce gradations with the application of the lead.
Eliminating White Spots Or Blemishes Without Showing The Lead. Only practice will enable you to accomplish this. The lead must be applied so lightly that while the blemish disappears, yet the lead is not visible when the negative is held up against the light. You must be careful not to apply the lead too heavily; in many cases a slight touch of the pencil is sufficient.
What Spots To Remove. Bear in mind that the spots which appear white or transparent in the negative are the spots which you should remove. These are caused by a freckle or some other blemish. After these spots or blemishes have been filled in you will find that other spots make their appearance. These should be removed when modeling, not while filling in the transparent spot.
Holding The Pencil Properly. The pencil should be held in exactly the same position used by penmen, which position is described in Paragraphs Nos. 53 and 54. Do not grasp the pencil with too tight a grip, for a loose hold tends to give better texture to the work, while at the same time the hand will not become so easily tired.
Looseness Of Texture. By looseness of texture is meant that a spot or blemish which is filled in should not appear like a solid mass, but the strokes should form a network. If you will make an effort, when filling in spots, to produce this effect, you will produce a looseness of texture.
Producing Texture By Varying The Strokes. By varying the different strokes in filling in a blemish, you will not only fill in the spot and remove the blemish, but in doing so you will break them up, as it were, and this breaking up will produce a texture.