The paper must always be carefully placed with its edges parallel to the sides of the board so that in working you do not lose the sense of horizontal and perpendicular. From the beginning the habit should be formed of keeping the board still while working; it should never be turned around. Soon this becomes second nature. The stability of the subject is lost at once when the board is not kept in the same position.
It is usually best to set the board at an angle when working, rather than have it flat or upright. Most people who work at home need a table on which a board can be raised to a slope. The whole table surface should not be sloping or there will be nowhere to put the drawing materials and eraser. The table must not be too high, about three feet is convenient.
If it is not at the right height for use with ordinary chairs, a revolving chair or stool that can be raised or lowered should be used, as it is important to sit correctly. The ideal chair to encourage both concentration and relaxation has a horizontal, not-too-deep seat, flat and relatively hard upholstery, and a very upright back.
Before the reader starts work, let us review the proper way to hold pencils, pens, and brushes. Most people manage
more or less correctly, but many difficulties are due solely to a wrong grip. Pencils, pens, and brushes can be used in many different ways to express different things, but full freedom of expression is allowed only by a correct grasp.
Pencils and chalks are in themselves technically capable of a great variety of strokes, darker or lighter according to the amount of pressure with which they are used. The thickness of line can also be controlled to a lesser extent.
Nibs filled with drawing ink do not allow any alteration of tone, but according to the kind of nib enormous differences of thickness can be obtained by different pressures. Ball-points and pens with a rigid, circular point are the only ones that give a completely uniform line, whatever the pressure.
The most expressive variation of stroke is obtained with the brush, and by diminishing the amount of liquid it holds, it can also be made to lighten the tone, an effect otherwise created by diluting the liquid. The brush, together with pencil and chalk, is best for filling in areas of color, a tedious business with a pen.
Next: Chinese method for holding a brush