Main page
Astro page

How are the drawings made?

Tools of the trade

The basic tools are very simple: A pencil and some thick white paper. I use a HB (medium soft) pencil for most objects. H2 is good for small detail. I think B2 or softer are not as suitable as they tend to smear all over the paper.

An eraser can be used for thin absorpion effects and small dust clouds but a very clean and sharp eraser is needed for a good effect.

The paper used should be quite thick (even thin cardboard) as thin sheets will soon be waterlogged and unusable (unless Your observing site is in Sahara or any similar very dry place).

A thin hard-cover book or a rigid sheet of any material is needed for a sturdy background.

Last but not least a faint red spotlight is needed. Red is usually used because it seems to affect the night vision less than any other colour. But even red light will affect your night vision so the light source should be as faint as possible. The light should be quite diffuse as sharp changes in the intensity will made evaluating the quality of the drawing much more difficult.

Example: NGC 7013

1. Plot the brightest stars in the field

This is the most critical step as the rough net of bright stars will serve as a guide when drawings everything else

2. Add fainter field stars

I usually also plot a small and faint point where the center of the object will be. It makes plotting the faint stars near the object much easier.

3. Add the rough outline of the object

Compare the shape and dimensions with the 'general grid' of field stars.

4. Add lead to the object until the contrast and details are correct

5. Add faint stars around the object and check details

The drawings is now almost ready. Note the magnification, the name of the target etc.

The last step can be done indoors.

6. Clean up the mess

Use a black pen for nice round stars, carefully rub the drawing with your fingertip or a piece of paper to get a nice diffuse outline and finally spray a layer of fixative on the drawing. Add a detailed description and information about sky conditions etc.

2nd example: NGC 6712

Step 1.

Step 2.

Step 3.

Steps 4-5.

Step 6.

Updated 14.11.2000