Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Drawing Materials - Crayons 3 - Conte Crayons

Crayon is defined in a dictionary as: 
 cray·on  n. 1. A stick of colored wax, charcoal, or chalk, used for drawing.

There are other stick materials which vary slightly from the dictionary definition in their compositions.  They partially fall into Pastels and Charcoal but are really different in their composition and performance. 

Conte crayons are a mixture of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax and/or clay base in square cross-section sticks.  They were invented by Nicolas-Jacques Conte in 1795 in response to the shortage of English graphite during the Napoleonic Wars.  The Conte crayons were easy to manufacture and cost effective.  The process allowed for grades of hardness.

Now the crayons are offered in colors as well and are harder than hard-pastels and very slightly waxy.  They are also harder to break and the blacks are more difficult to erase.
The basic four sketching set.

Today they are most commonly found in black, white, sanguine, bistre and shades of gray. Their line has been increased to a a more complete color spectrum. The colored sticks behave much like hard pastels.

I like the look of a quick soft sketch done in Conte Crayons.  I enjoy the finger blending and smudging as an enhancement to the line work.  A kneaded eraser works well to add or enhance a high light.

Conte Crayon Bistre quick sketch at Silvermine Guild

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