Facsimile Penciling on Mylar in Theban Tomb 179

Feb 2, 2021

Before the facsimile penciling of TT 179 started, a reduced (1:50), proportionally accurate wall map was created to mark each individual transparent sheet’s exact spot on the wall. The main organizational units of this map were based on a grid, laid over a rough sketch, providing the necessary labels to identify the sheets in the studio.

Taking such sophisticated preparatory steps might seem a bit of an overkill, however, we had to prepare for storing hundreds of transparent paper sheets in the forthcoming years and maintain easy access to the tiniest bits of visual details, whenever necessary. Once all preparations were done, an accurate, 1:1 pencil copy was created onto the sheets (transparent paper was replaced in later seasons by more durable matte acetate film) applying a certain amount of overlap along the edges of each sheet. Soft (usually 2-3B) pencil was used over the surface to minimize the artist’s pressure on the wall.

Beyond offering the most complete, stroke by stroke representation of the current state of the wall paintings, these pencil facsimiles had a few peculiarities worth mentioning. In accordance with the desire to capture the ancient painters’ style as precisely as possible, each individual brushstroke was outlined on the pencil drawing with a clear indication of the stroke’s taper, orientation, etc.

Obviously, this extra quality measure put a lot of pressure on the artist, elongating the drawing process by a considerable amount, however creating a firm base for indicating the color of each brush strokes in the future. With that in mind, each pencil drawing received numerous labels regarding the hues used by the ancient artist – a safety measure to help with decoding a colorful wall painting in the studio.

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