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Thread: considering taking the sketching plunge....

  1. #1
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    Default considering taking the sketching plunge....



    I recently acquired a Nexstar 8SE and I have been absolutely blown away by the number of faint DSO's I can see in a night. So impressed in fact that I'd like to start documenting them other than checking off on paper. I don't want to go so far as astrophotography due mainly to huge budget constraints, so I am considering sketching and video as possibilities.

    With sketching, where should I start.... sort of a "quick start" guide? I've done some brief research, but it seems there's almost too much info and tough to narrow down. I'm also not sure if I want to make the sketch on dark or white paper.

    I'd say the biggest challenges for me will be proper set up and bugs! For the former, how do you position yourself at the scope eyepiece, what lighting do you use, etc? Bugs though may be the major deterrent that steers me towards video. Mosquitoes are tough for me where I live. I'm trying out some new things, like premethrin treated clothing, but may not be enough, and if I can't get a handle on the bugs, I may have to steer towards video.

    Thanks in advance for any help!
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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    Hello Ctron, welcome!

    There are some tutorials in youtube if you type "astro sketching" (you can watch some basic stuff from Jeremy Perez or others). Most of them use pencil on white paper. Here, we have a member (MentalAstro) that uses white pastels on black paper. His sketches are out of this world (Alexander's Astronomy Sketching).

    Whatever you choose start on white or black paper my advice is to start with some open clusters and learn how to place the stars and simulate different magnitudes with the pencil. Others will chime with more advice so for now I can say welcome to the wonderful world of astro sketching
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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    Absolutely for Alex's sketches and site.
    I started with just white paper and pencil. Then transferred sketches to digital. Then after awhile went to white pencil with black paper. Just use a red light at the EP. You can easily adapt a gooseneck arm with a red light in the end and attach this to a clipboard.
    But an important point is when sketching globs or OC's, keep looking as seeing conditions will fade and pop. When the conditions improve, more stars will be resolved thereby showing more detail.
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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    Welcome Ctron.
    Best advice I can offer is not to put too much pressure on yourself. It's just a sketch. Things get better as time goes on. It's takes practice. The key to sketching is to have fun doing it.
    Personally I have two sketch 'modes'. Mode One is quick field sketches in my observation log. Definitely nothing fancy, just something to convey what I have seen along with my verbal description.
    This was M92
    M92 07-01-16.jpg

    Mode Two is where I sketch an object into a sketch book or observing template using pencils of various lead weight to try to capture something with a little more detail. These are mostly for AL awards that require sketching. Again, not museum quality, but I have fun doing them.
    Montes Jura 07-14-16.jpg



    Good luck and have fun doing it. It's very rewarding to look back at your notes and revisit your sketches.
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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    Hi Ctron! You have already received some great advice here on the forum. I enjoy sketching because it gives me a visual record of objects that I have observed. I do a quick sketch at the scope with a sketch pencil on white paper as accurately as possible. I start out doing a rough sketch of the object for example brightest stars, patterns, asterisms etc. and at the same time I use a little digital recorder as I describe as much detail as possible. I also use a clipboard on my knee and a red light with variable intensity hanging from my focuser. image.jpegLater on I use my rough sketch and my recording to do a more detailed sketch on black paper with white pastel. I warn you it is addictive! Also I live in skeeter country in the swamplands of eastern NC and I use ThermaCells. I sometimes use all three of them!
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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    This sounds fun! I'm going to try it out when the clouds go away. I used to sketch alot as a child and stopped when I became obsessed with music. 30 years later I find it very relaxing to doodle and draw again. I bought a book of black paper along with some white pencils and pens a few weeks ago for something else i wanted tio try and there are a lot of empty pages left in that book. I think I would enjoy this alot. I might fire up Stellarium set it to ocular view and practice sketching a bit while waiting for an opportunity to get some eyepiece time.

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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    Ctron,

    So many excellent replies. Rick's words resonate with me best, don't put pressure on yourself, just sketch.
    Here is also a good list of resources, but there are so many more..
    https://www.astroleague.org/content/sketching-resources

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    Default Re: considering taking the sketching plunge....

    Drawing is a learn-able skill regardless of subject. I've never sketched at the telescope but for terrestrial subjects, it's usually helpful to define what your subject is, with a telescope you've got the subject in a circular frame. How big are the objects relative to the frame? How far are they relative to each other? On terrestrial subjects: what are darkest darks and lightest lights? Relative to those extremes, is the object or area in question closer to one or the other? By how much? In essence it becomes about measuring angles/sizes/distances and measuring or observing differences in light in dark, some of which are subtle and also a commitment to put on paper what is really there in front of you not what the rational part of the brain says must be there or what the rational brain says is a shortcut or symbol for what's there. A human eye in a realistic portrait doesn't look like a circle with a dot in the middle, for example. Do more drawing and it gets better, typically. Also, I keep a journal I illustrate. I almost never re-read what I wrote, but I find the drawings worth revisiting, they help me remember things in the ways the words never will. perhaps that's why I like cameras, microscopes, and telescopes as well as pencils, pens, and oil paints, so much and don't write poetry!
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