It takes a gifted artist to become a great teacher and those who dare to teach never cease to learn.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mylar - Duralar - Herculene and Colored Pencil

(Bougainvillaea by Susan Rubin, Colored Pencil on mylar)

We recently encountered some confusion about various types of drafting film and their suitability to Botanical Illustration media.  Susan Rubin has been working with Mylar since 2002, and consequently has developed a bias toward that product.  In an effort to be objective, she ran a test on the most common three:  Mylar, Duralar, and Herculene, to see how they worked with colored pencil.  The Texture on Mylar class tried the same experiment, and reported essentially the same results. NOTE: these results are only for Colored Pencil and do not necessarily apply for Pen and Ink or Graphite. We will be publishing similar type of test for these media later.
The following report is put together by Susan Rubin (our Colored Pencil instructor for many years):
Mylar and Duralar and Herculene are all polyester drafting films and can be found in thicknesses, from 2 mil to 10 mil. All of the films can be found “double frosted”, with both sides matte-finished for drawing.  All of these drafting films are archival and valid grounds for graphite, ink, and colored pencil.  
 (Test by Susan Rubin, please click the image to enlarge)
Susan lined up three little squares of the various films and worked across them with the same layers and the same pressure (2 on the pressure scale), using Faber-Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor pencils.  She tried erasing, lifting with waxed paper, smearing, and layering color. 
Susan's results:  All types of film performed well for erasing and lifting and alas, they all will smear.  The big difference is in the surface tooth and the depth of the tooth, which determine the total layers of colored pencil one can apply. All had limitations in accepting layers of waxy Prismacolor pencils, which filled the tooth very quickly.
Least compatible for COLORED PENCILDuralar.  The very fine and shallow tooth accepted very few layers of pencil, and the surface did not allow for even blending.  Save Duralar for ink work, where it is a wonderful surface.
FINE for COLORED PENCILHerculene.  With a slightly smoother tooth than Mylar, Herculene accepts color and layering well, but with a more limited tooth than the Mylar.  What does that mean?  Fewer layers overall.  Plan carefully!
BEST for COLORED PENCIL:  Mylar .005. This surface will accept up to 20 layers of Polychromos colored pencil applied with a light (Pressure Scale 2) touch.  Colors build and blend evenly and can be worked on both sides of the surface.  The .005 thickness is sturdy enough to take repeated turning of the surface and erasing without buckling, but retains its translucent quality.  

Thank you Susan for this report!

(Our Botanical Illustration Program frequently offers courses in Colored Pencil on Mylar (as an option for following classes in the coming season: Drawing on Tradition:  Georgia O’Keeffe, Art Nouveau Botanical Tile Designs and FloweringFruit Trees
Please note that the registration for these classes opens on December 12, 9 a.m., and at this moment the classes show as if they were sold out) 


Anonymous said...

Hello, I have done colored pencil work on mylar many years ago (1993) and I am now beginning to work in it again. I have tried to find Mylar .005 online (which is one that you recommended) but all I see are products with Duralar. Can you direct me to where you purchase the Mylar that you are using? Thanks very much!


Mervi Hjelmroos-Koski said...

Mylar is trademarked by DuPont and you can find it typically in well-equipped art supply stores. You can also get it form the on-line suppliers. For the colored pencil we use the matte (frosted or double frosted) polyester film. Please read more about Mylar here: (mervi)

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much- I found it online!