itabokashi 板ぼかし
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. woodblocking shading. A technique used to produce graduated tones on a woodblock print *ukiyo-e 浮世絵. A separate woodblock was carved for darker or lighter areas. The block was first carved to leave an area in relief that was slightly larger (approximately. 0.7cm) around the graduated colored area indicated on the artist's proof. The edges of this carved area were then abraded at a slight slant to the correct dimensions using the stalks of the tokusa 木賊 (Dutch rush/Equisetum hiemale L.), and polished using the leaves of the muku 椋 tree (Aphananthe aspera Planch). This block, when printed in the same manner as the main color block, will produce a colored area with slightly fuzzy edges, appearing to blend gradually into the surrounding colors, achieving a graduated effect. Printers exploited this technique frequently on the prints of later artists such as Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797-1861) to soften the edges of clouds, to shade areas of figures' faces, and in imitation of chiaroscuro effects of Western prints.

*bokashi ぼかし

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