Material & Techniques

The following is a brief description of a leading alcohol marker: Copic. The information set out below is to assist a beginner to understand the different types of Copic markers and their common use. (See the table at the bottom of the page).

The three grades of oil paints are as follows: artist, professional, and student. The artist-grade paints are categorised as fine, extra‑fine, and super‑fine. The professional-grade paints are sometimes further described as fine. Student-grade paints have no such sub-categories.

Artist-grade paints are made without regard to cost. No expense is spared. They are made with the purest and highest quality of raw materials and ingredients to showcase rich and intense colours. These paints will contain a mix of traditional and modern pigments that are lightfast. There will be a high pigment loading and little or no fillers. The colour palette will usually have single pigment paints that exceed half of the range.

As for the professional-grade, cost plays a role but not at the expense of quality. The professional-grade paints are manufactured to be comparable with artist-grade paints but minus the high price. The colour palette will usually contain fewer single pigments compared to the artist-grade paints and some of the rare and exotic pigments may not be included in the range; however, the pigments used to make the paints will meet the requirements of quality and lightfastness. The pigment loading is usually lower than the artist-grade. Single pigments will be one-third of the range.

Student-grade paints are made in the most economical fashion using the cheapest raw materials and ingredients, as the cost is the primary consideration. The student-grade paints have an average pigment concentration, questionable lightfastness, and are loaded with fillers and other ingredients to create volume. Manufacturers also use mixtures of relatively cheap pigments to match the colour appearance of more expensive pigments or replace traditional pigments with modern substitutes. There are usually no single pigment colours. Most student-grade paints comprise a mixture of two or three pigments. Often, the colours don't behave in the same way as the artist or professional-grade paints. That means a student may have to discard some of the knowledge gained during mixing when they upgrade to the artist or professional-grade paints.

The above information applies to acrylics and watercolours with relevant adaptation.

Oil varnish consists of resin dissolved in solvents or a mixture of solvents and drying oils. The three types of oil varnishes are as follows: mixing, isolating, and final. These varnishes have different functions and are applied at different stages of work.

When the painting is in progress, a mixing varnish is added to the painting medium to accelerate drying time according to the needs of the artist and sometimes to add gloss. An isolating varnish (which is insoluble in solvents) can be used during painting. An isolating varnish is applied to the paint film of bottom layers to prevent them from being affected by solvents in the next layer of paint. Retouch varnish is applied in between painting as temporary protection against dust and moisture or to assist the artist in the painting process by creating a uniform wet look that remedies the unevenness of light being reflected from wet and dry parts of the painting.

After the work is completed, a picture or final varnish is applied to the surface to protect the paint film from atmospheric deterioration and contact abrasion. A final varnish is also used to unify the appearance of the surface to the desired gloss, satin, or matte finish.

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