I am still searching to find a materials combination that gives me a nice old-master look and the ability to render detail for fantasy roughs. I recently happened to open a nice book I have on Rubens and his peers and noticed that almost all the papers that were being used were comparable to the Stonehenge "fawn" mentioned in an earlier post. My initial opinion on the fawn was that it was too light, but as I delve into this topic further I can now see it's a great paper for what I need.
Because craftsmen were limited in their choice of dyes, these old master papers were most often just a warmly toned off-white. I mistakenly thought I needed a darker paper to achieve a wider value range, but in fact I just needed to add a wash component to the mediums employed on that paper.
Below are some compositional studies from today, about 5" width done in a toned paper sketchbook. I'm using a very quick watercolor wash of red and black mixed to obtain a color that sits nicely with the Col-erase Tuscan red pencil. Also used are the white charcoal pencil, and some touches of the FW white ink. This combination is very similar to the old master techniques and allows either a drawn approach for faces, details and studies, or a tonal approach for a broad indication of compositional lighting. I like that I can use my small travel watercolor set to get any wash color I desire but in my quick experiments, it didn't layer all that well with the pencil. I may go see if there is an FW ink that will work instead (the old masters combo uses ink) and allow the pencil to go under and over the wash more freely. On another note, I found in the art store the other day a conte-like stick of Col-erase Tuscan red. I guess they also make their line in other forms, which is great because we get color consistency in different materials. I haven't experimented with this yet.