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.
The Stroke. Be careful to avoid working heavily on the practice-print, and again exercise care that you do not work beyond the blemish. Use any movement you see fit, following the line of the blemish at all times. It matters
not how you perform the work, so you produce the results of filling in or smoothing over. An irregular line is preferable, following the shape of the blemish to a certain extent, but steering clear of the edge of the spot or blemish. To work on the edge would intensify the outline, consequently requiring more work on the original blemish. The weight of the stroke will depend entirely upon the density of the imperfection, and upon the tint of the surrounding surfaces. Use as few strokes as possible to secure the desired result. The defects shown in this practice-print represent different shaped blemishes, wrinkles, lines, etc., and you should become familiar with them before applying any work on the regular glass negatives.
69. While we do not advise that you pay any attention to a set form of stroke, in Illustration No. 8, Figs. M, N, O, P and R, we illustrate a few general forms that are applicable to certain classes of work. In Fig. M is shown the stroke that is most generally employed by retouchers. It is actually a scribble and the pencil is seldom lifted from the plate, but the weight of the stroke is varied at the will of the retoucher, so that it will build up the imperfections to match the surrounding tints.
70. The next stroke in general use is shown in Fig. N and is a curved line. This conforms to the majority of imperfections on the face and breaks up the spots, leaving an excellent grain or texture. The main disadvantage of this stroke is that the pencil must be raised from the negative each time a stroke is made. The scribble stroke is practically the same as the curved stroke with the exception that the pencil is not lifted from the negative. In Fig. O is shown the hook stroke, which is used principally in removing the larger blemishes and imperfections. The cross-hatch, which originated in Germany, is shown in Fig. P and is very serviceable when working on extremely large spots; also when retouching backgrounds, landscape negatives, etc. The comma, Fig. R, is employed to remove freckles and small round specks or blemishes. The strokes in these five figures are enlarged at least four times, as, re-
71. The size of all these strokes depends entirely upon the size of the imperfection that is to be removed. The weight of the stroke is governed entirely by the transparency of the imperfection as compared with the surrounding tone. When modeling the face the scribble stroke will be found most advantageous and efficient in securing the desired result in the least time.
72. There are numerous other strokes in use, but those referred to above are the simplest, and after considerable practice you will have adopted a stroke particularly your own - one which you will find to answer your purpose and enable you to secure the desired results in the least possible time and in the most efficient manner. Just remember that any stroke, no matter what shape it is, so long as it gives the results, may be employed.
73. Beginners invariably work too heavily and apply too much lead. Avoid this by applying the lead very lightly. The weight of the finger on the pencil will be sufficient without bearing on it at all. Try working with only a few strokes. Do not attempt to guide your pencil by holding it tightly, but permit it to rest loosely in the hand, even should you at first work on parts that should not be retouched. You will soon gain full control of the pencil and instinctively remove imperfections, and fully retouch the negative without having to make a special effort to guide the pencil. Stiff, heavy strokes are sure to result if the pencil is held too firmly.