I have to actively remind myself to leave time to stop and play with materials. Like lying around reading, it is actively part of the job, but rarely feels like it.
It’s closely related to remembering to do studies for a finished artwork, instead of jumping in boots first and flailing away under deadline. When I was starting out, the idea of doing studies seemed exhausting. Now, they’re a joy: just tinkering, really; no pressure; nothing to see here.
[Relatedly, before I actually wrote a novel the idea of doing 17 drafts sounded horrifyingly inefficient. Now it’s nice to be able to work on a piece and tell myself, “no need to stress, I’ve still got thirteen more drafts to play with.”)
One of the illustration briefs for the 10th anniversary edition of Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel was for an illustration of a blueprint. Although I do play with cyanotypes, these illustrations were to be in pen and ink — and pretty much the exact opposite. I was determined to do it without trickery, however (aided by the fact that this was an illustration-of-a-documents, not a replica of a document itself).
Above, I was testing an array of chinagraph and Prismacolour pencils, masking fluid, and just painting around the lines.
In the end, as the most complicated (but clearest) option, I went for masking fluid. It’s a liquid rubber that you paint down then watercolour (or ink) over (the picture below is before I added washes of grey ink). When the paint is dry you gently rub or lift away the masking — you can see here that I was using it to keep highlights bright on the glass surfaces.
(You can see here the ink bottle, wine glass, and magnifying glass from the reference post).
My copies have, I suspect, run afoul of Current Events Impacting International Shipping, but I’ll post more on the process and final illustrations as I can.