a. Rag content (measured in percent) refers to the amount of cotton fiber contained in
the paper. Originally, paper was made using a crushed wood fiber process. Ultimately, cotton
fibers were added. In milling cotton, long fibers are used in textiles; short fibers are used in
milling various papers. The cotton fiber content increases the papers' permanence, strength, and
durability. The increased quality is also reflected in cost. Newsprint has very little to no cotton
fiber while 100-percent rag is found in various linens which contain no wood fibers. With the
advent of synthetics, cotton fibers are used less and less.
b. Paper milling processes contain acids. Acid content in papers have a negative reaction
with surrounding elements. Air and light weaken and yellow paper with time. Acidity can be
neutralized in the milling process by adding an alkylin. Acid free, or neutral papers have a pH
balance measurement of 6.5 to 7 on a 0 to 14 scale. They are the most desirable because they
least affect the illustration and stay white the longest. Be aware the pH balance can be affected
by some art materials (media).
c. The surface hardness and texture are further determined in the final stage of milling.
Some papers or board have a very Smooth, hard surface, while others may be textured, soft, or
both. Experiment with as many as possible to become knowledgeable.
Board should have an appropriate texture for pencil or ink drawings. The tooth of
smoother surfaces is good for ink drawings, but may not bite off enough of dry medium for
accurate contrast. The best surfaces for ink drawing should be firm and smooth. Ross board
has a rough tooth to make pencil drawings appear camera ready, like line art. Use a soft pencil,
e.g., 4B. or 6B.
Refining drawing skills will lead to projects using other surfaces and tools. Many styles,
surfaces, textures and colors are available. Each creates its own effect depending on the medium
and application you use. Experiment with them for familiarity and self improvement (fig 1-10).