Isaac Newton: On Drawing

Notes on drawing, written in 1659 by a 17-year-old Isaac Newton in one of his notebooks, digitized via The Newton Project. Also included in the source transcript are some interesting early notes on the preparation of various coloured pigments. Via Ptak.

Instruments of drawing.
Pens made of Raven quils. thick & smooth paper. & light coulored blew paper. fine parchment. a flat thin bras ruler. a paire of compasses. a wing. & sundry plummetts. & pestells to draw with=all.

Of Drawing with the pen
Let the thing which you intend to draw stand before you, so that the light be not hindred from falling upon it. & with a pointed peice of charecole draw it rudely & lightly when you have don see if it be well don; if not wipe out with your wing & begin agine, & so draw it till it bee well. then wipe it over gently with your wing, so that you may perceive your former strokes; then with your black chalk or pensill draw it perfectly & curiously as you can, & shaddow it as the light falleth upon it. If you draw on blew paper when you have finished your draught wet your paper in fair wait & let it dry of it self. & so the drawing will hold fast on.

Of Drapery.
Draw the utmost lines of your garment, & the greater folds first which continue through the whole garment, then break the greater folds into lesse, & so shaddow them.

Of Landskip.
If you express the sunn make it riseing or setting behind some hill; but never expres the moone or starrs but upon necessity.

Of Emblem or Empresse work.
In drawing after the life sit not nearer than two yards from the partie, & sit of one height. but if the party you draw be very tall let him sit aboue you a little if {short} or a child let him sit a little below you If you draw from the head to the foot let the party stand at the least six yards from you. let the party stand for few can sit {illeg} upright as they can stand.

ffirst, draw the stroake for the forehead, which must bee done exactly, because according to that proportion must all the rest bee drawn as if the fore head bee soe long, then must it be twice so long from the forehead to the chin. then draw the farthest eye making the circle of the sight perfectly round & placing the reflection of the sight which appeareth as a white speck, acording to the light. 3. draw the nose. forthly the nearest eye, leaving the just lenght of an eye betweene it & the other. 5. Draw the mouth. 6 The chin. 7 finish the out line of the face. & lastly the haire. having finished the head draw the whole body proportionable thereunto.

Of Shaddowing.
To shaddow sweetly & rowndly withall is a far greater cunning than to shaddow hard & darke; for it best to shaddow as if it were not shaddowed.

To take a perfect drawgh of a picture.
Take a sheet of venise or of the finest paper you can get, wet it all over with cleane salitt oyle, then wipe the sallett away so that the paper may be dry throughly. then lay the paper on the picture, & you shall see the picture through the paper, & then with a pensill draw it over, & then with a pen. Then take of the oyled paper & lay it on a cleane sheete, & with a stick pointed, or a fether of a swallow wing, draw it over againe, & you shall have it neatly drawne on the white paper.

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