This chapter is from the The History and Practice of the Art of Photography, by Henry H. Snelling. Published BY G. P. Putnam, 155 Broadway, 1849.
Nearly, if not quite all the various colors used in painting may be made from the five primitive colors, black, white, blue, red and yellow, but for the Daguerrean artist it would be the best policy to obtain such as are required by their art already prepared. In a majority of cases, the following will be found sufficient, viz.
Chrome Yellow, Gamboge, Yellow Ochre; or all three.*
*Gamboge is best for drapery; Ochre for the face.
Bistre, or Burnt Umber.
If, in coloring any part of a lady's or gentleman's apparel, it is found necessary to produce other tints and shades, the following combinations may be used:
Orange--Mix yellow with red, making it darker or lighter by using more or less red.
Purple--This is made with Prussian blue, or indigo and red. Carmine and Prussian blue producing the richest color, which may be deepened in the shadows by a slight addition of indigo or brown.
Greens--Prussian blue and gamboge makes a very fine green, which may be varied to suit the taste of the sitter or operator, by larger portions of either, or by adding white, burnt sienna, indigo, and red, as the case may require. These combinations, under different modifications, give almost endless varieties of green.
Brown--May be made of different shades of umber, carmine and lamp-black.
Neutral tint--Is composed of indigo and lamp-black.
Crimson--Mix carmine and white, deepening the shaded parts of the picture with additional carmine.
Flesh Color--The best representative of flesh color is light red, brightened in the more glowing or warmer parts, with carmine, softened off in the lighter portions with white, and shaded with purple and burnt sienna.
Lead Color--Mix indigo and white in proportions to suit.
Scarlet--Carmine and light red.
For Jewelry cups of gold and silver preparations accompany each box for Daguerreotypists, or may be procured separately.
The method of laying colors on Daguerreotypes is one of considerable difficulty, inasmuch as they are used in the form of perfectly dry impalpable powder. The author of this little work is now experimenting, in order, if possible, to discover some more easy, artistic and unexceptionable method. If successful, the result will be published in a future edition.
The rules we shall give for coloring Daguerreotypes depends, and are founded, upon those observed in miniature painting, and are intended more as hints to Daguerrean artists, in hopes of leading them to attempt improvements, than as instructions wholly to be observed.
The writer is confident that some compound or ingredient may yet be discovered which, when mixed with the colors, will give a more delicate, pleasing, and natural appearance to the picture than is derived from the present mode of laying them on, which in his estimation is more like plastering than coloring.
IN COLORING DAGUERREOTYPES, the principal shades of the head are to be made with bistre, mixed with burnt sienna, touching some places with a mixture of carmine and indigo. The flesh tints are produced by the use of light red, deepened towards the shaded parts with yellow ochre, blue and carmine mixed with indigo, while the warmer, or more highly colored parts have a slight excess of carmine or lake. Color the shades about the mouth and neck with yellow ochre, blue, and a very little carmine, heightening the color of the lips with carmine and light red, letting the light red predominate on the upper, and the carmine on the lower lip; the shades in the corner of the mouth being touched slightly with burnt sienna, mixed with carmine.
In coloring the eyes, the artist will of course be guided by nature, observing a very delicate touch in laying on the colors, so as to preserve as much transparency as possible. A slight touch of blue-- ultramarine would be best if it would adhere to the Daguerreotype plate-- in the whites of the eye near the iris, will produce a good effect.
In coloring the heads of men it will be necessary to use the darker tints with more freedom, according to the complexion of the sitter. For women, the warmer tints should predominate, and in order to give that transparency so universal with the softer sex-- and which gives so much loveliness and beauty to the face-- a little white may be judiciously intermingled with the red tints about the lighter portions of the face.
In taking a picture of a lady with light or auburn hair, by the Daguerrean process, much of the beauty of the face is destroyed, on account of the imperfect manner in which light conveys the image of light objects to the spectrum of the camera. This may be obviated in some measure by proper coloring. To do this, touch the shaded parts with burnt sienna and bistre, filling up the lighter portions with yellow ochre, delicate touches of burnt sienna, and in those parts which naturally have a bluish tint, add very delicate touches of purple-- so delicate in fact as hardly to be perceived. The roots of the hair at the forehead should also be touched with blue, and the eyebrows near the temples made of a pinkish tint.
The chin of a woman is nearly of the same color as the cheeks in the most glowing parts. In men it is stronger, and of a bluish tint, in order to produce the effect given by the beard.
In portraits of women--the middle tints on the side of the light, which are perceived on the bosom and arms, are made of a slight mixture of ochre, blue and lake, (or carmine), to which add, on the shaded sides, ochre, bistre and purple, the latter in the darker parts. The tints of the hands should be the same as the other parts of the flesh, the ends of the fingers being a little pinkish and the nails of a violet hue. If any portion of the fleshy parts is shaded by portions of the dress, or by the position of the hand, this shade should be colored with umber mixed with purple.
TO COLOR THE DRAPERY.--Violet Velvet--Use purple made of Prussian blue and carmine, touching up the shaded parts with indigo blue.
Green Velvet--Mix Prussian blue and red-orpiment, shade with purple, and touch up the lights with a little white.
Red Velvet--Mix a very little brown with carmine, shading with purple, marking the lights in the strongest parts with pure carmine, and touch the most brilliant slightly with white.
White Feathers--May be improved by delicately touching the shaded parts with a little blue mixed with white. White muslin, linen, lace, satin, silk, etc., may also be colored in the same way, being careful not to lay the color on too heavily.
FURS--Red Furs may be imitated by using light red and a little masticot, shaded with umber. Gray Furs--black and white mixed and shaded with bistre. Sable--white shaded lightly with yellow ochre.
These few directions are quite sufficient for the art, and it is quite unnecessary for me to pursue the subject further. I would, however, remark that the Daguerreotypists would find it greatly to their advantage to visit the studies of our best artists, our public galleries of paintings, and statuary, and wherever else they can obtain a sight of fine paintings, and study the various styles of coloring, atitudes, folds of drapery and other points of the art. In coloring Daguerreotypes, artists will find the magnifying glass of much advantage in detecting any imperfections in the plate or in the image, which may be remedied by the brush. In selecting brushes choose those most susceptible of a fine point, which may be escertained by wetting them between the lips, or in a glass of water.