About Stipple Art
Stippling Art... Not Pointillism?!?
Often confused with pointillism, stippling is an ancient art form routinely used to produce scientific illustration.
While both include the application of small dots, the main difference is that stippling uses one color to apply the dots, creating depth, shadows, and designs, while pointillism is the application of dots of many individual colors to appear blended. Most commonly pointillism is used to describe a painting done in fine dots of color as those done by the famous artist George Seurat, who helped bring the technique fame.
Stippling is the creation of a pattern simulating varying degrees of solidity or shading by using small dots. Such a pattern may occur in nature and these effects are frequently emulated by artists. [Stippling-Wikipedia]
Judith begins her artistic process by thoroughly studying each species and deciding on the positions and layout for her next design. Her process DOES NOT involve tracing, she free hand sketches each animal in pencil prior to stippling in black ink on white paper, as shown in the above picture.
View more designs in the dot buy dot design Stipple Design Gallery.
Stipple [stip-uh l]
History of Stippling
“Every dot has a place….………….”
When one first looks at stipple art it seems that the dots are just thrown in a wild array of random patterns. This is far from the truth! The patterns are not random at all but thoughtfully placed following specific guidelines. Areas needing to be dark contain more dots per square inch, and those areas needing to be light, have fewer dots. The stipples appear to have an even distribution and spacing. Stipples should not touch each other unless required to illustrate an area of darkness, where they can start to merge together, giving the appearance of “black” shadows.
The term “stipple” simply means ‘dot’ or ‘dotted’, and can be a verb or a noun. The technique can be used in conjunction with line drawings. The outline of the image being drawn can be line drawn, but it is not necessary. The initial image is lightly drawn in pencil then stippled in black ink. After the ink has thoroughly dried, the image in pencil is then carefully erased, leaving only the dots. Stipple art is traditionally done in black ink on white paper. The paper is typically smooth allowing for evening of the stipple. Each dot must be that – a dot. It cannot be smeared or elongated in any way, otherwise it is not a stipple. There is no erasing in stipple art; once a dot is in place, it remains there. This makes stippling a very time consuming and extremely focused type of artwork. Stipple art is a “one way street”, with no room for error, thus cannot be done for long periods of time without error.
Historically, stipple art was done with a crow quill pen and black ink. More modern pens are used today, like rapidograph pens, where the barrel contains the ink, and the various sized nibs (the point where ink flows out) can be changed out. Now there are disposable ink pens with varying sizes of nibs that are not refillable. The size of the nib is crucial. The large nib produces a large dot and on down the line until the smallest nib (such as a 001) which produces a very tiny dot or can do hair-like lines.
There are numerous benefits of stipple art for scientific illustration. Among the most important are the ease at which stippled drawings can be reproduced by many different methods of varying quality and still maintain their visual impact. Black and white images are faithfully reproduced by most methods, unlike continuous tones. Also, stippled drawings can be greatly reduced without losing their detail. Stipple drawings are typically created 25-100% larger than the intended final reproduction so the reduction process will smooth away small imperfections. Since stipple drawings are normally black and white, they are inexpensive to reproduce and became popular with mass produced science books (Wood, P. 1994. Scientific Illustration. Van Nostrand Reinhold Publisher, 2nd Edition, pgs. 31-43. A book by Z. Jastrzebski (Scientific Illustration. Prentice-Hall Publisher, pages 8, 42, 112-113,271,1985) introduces stippling as an effective alternative to the original half-toning methods. The original methods of half-toning were expensive and of highly varying quality, and black-and-white reproduction methods were much more acceptable. Stippling enabled the illustrator to control the “half-toning" process and reduce printing costs.
Scientific illustration, prior to the eighteenth century, was often not scientific at all, but was rather imaginative to capture the readers attention! Early (Mid-evil 1400’s) woodcuts portrayed animals that were mythical in nature, having features not attributed to any real living creature. Plants and animals seen briefly or described second hand had wildly imaginative features and were often described as mystical or evil. Later as travel across the seas and to other continents became more common, and science became vogue, more accurate depictions of the fauna and flora appeared. These were however, not accurate in fine detail. It was not until late into the 18th Century that scientific illustration became a trusted depiction of the flora and fauna portrayed (B.J. Ford., Scientific illustration in the Eighteenth Century, Rothay House, Eds. Roy Porter, Cambridge, England. 2000, pages. 1-18).