Monday, May 18, 2009

Inking with a brush pen

This may come as a surprise to those of you who've been following my Flash tutorials, but I really enjoy inking the traditional way as well—the ole dip the pen in the bottle of ink approach (maybe you've heard of it). I talked about my process in an earlier post (My Little Corner of the World) and how I use various pen nibs to ink my comics. I can get a varying-width with my nibs by applying pressure and it works perfectly for the level of detail I want in my comics, but the line width is limited to the size of the nib. This makes is harder to ink at a larger scale.

I recently purchased one of those Pentel Pocket Brush Pens (if you're interested, check out Jet Pens), which unlike felt-tip brush pens (markers, really) has actual bristles. It's known in cartooning circles as one of the best brush pens around. When you first get it the bristles are completely white until you load the cartridge and the ink flows in. As long as you keep the cap on, it never dries out.

I've been playing with it a bit, but it's a little hard to control as I'm not used to inking with a brush, period. But I'm beginning to get the hang of it, and I'm hoping that with a little more practice the transition to inking with a true brush will be easier.

I just finished a couple drawings for an art trade with my talented blog buddies Chris Houghton and David DeGrand. And I inked them with the brush pen, which I am wielding here in this photo.

My end goal is to be able to create the same cartoony line I get out Flash, but on paper with real ink. I learned digital before analog, as odd as that seems. The biggest downside to inking in Flash is that you're not using real ink (INK is so much fun to work with) and you don't have a physical piece to hold in your hand when you're done. The computer is amazing, but it sure does a good job of trapping your original artwork in binary code.

I had a blast inking these drawings. Soon, I'm going to buy some brushes and give the real deal a try. Until then, the brush pen is doing the trick.


Eddy said...

hi Bob,
its wonderful you are going the other way, trying to replicate your digital inking with real world tools. that's very cool

i have tired various inking tools but i need a lot of practice.

The first nib i bought was a Hunt 102 nib a few months back. Heard that this was the most common nib artists used. It took awhile to get used to it and its very delicate.

Recently i heard that Jaime Hernandez uses a Hunt 22 to ink Love and Rockets so i thought i would give it a try. Its feels much nicer than the 102.

As for brushes i use Raphael Sable Brush - 8404. i can recommend this brush highly although i havent tried any of the W&N sables.
By the way, What kind of ink and paper do you use? I have heard FW ink is good. I have a treasured pad of Strathmore Bristol 300 (its not available in Australia)

Jason Curtis said...

Another informative post Bob. I love hearing what tools artists like to use.

I'm going to keep my eyes open for a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. I have a collection of Faber-Castell brush pens which I enjoy using, but they don't have actual bristles.

I agree with you 100% in terms of using traditional tools. Finishing a drawing in Flash (for example) is never as satisfying for me compared to a finished piece on paper. I feel far more connected to my art when I can watch the ink flow from my pen and feel the texture of the paper under my hand.

Néstor F. said...

Ei Bob! I'm enjoying very much with all this technical posts, very interesting for someone who is beginning, like me! I have this Pentel and wow, needs more concentration, normally I ink with a oneuse Faber-Castell brush, they're OK but breaks immediately. This summer Im going to buy a graphic tablet and begin to experiment with digital skills and vectors (some suggestion for a good graphic tablet?) Sorry my "apache" english... See you in ARGH!

Bob Flynn said...

Eddy: I don't like the hunt 102 either—not sure if I've tried the 22. I'm gonna ask around about sable brushes—it seems like a lot of people use Winsor Newton. I ink my comics on Strathmore Bristol, and I'm currently using Higgins black ink.

Jason: I've used Faber-Castell brush pens and they are great. MUCH easier to control (as they are more of a marker), but they lose their point, which frustrates me. Before I got the Pentel, they were my favorite brush pens and I like the line they create. Very crisp.

Nestor: Hi there! Great to have a fellow "ARGH-artist" over here :) I use the Faber-Castells as well. For filling in blacks and drawing in my sketcbook. The first time I tried the Pentel I was also surprised by how much control and attention it requires. But if you're patient, it's an amazing tool. I would recommend the Intuos Wacom tablet, I use the 6x8. Good luck! You're english is great!! I can't wait to see your latest comic for ARGH!

Honolulu Dogfight said...

Great post again Bob. I've been using these for a long time, have gone through or lost a couple, and tried some other nice ones on the Jet Pens site as well, but keep coming back to the pentel. Actually a few years ago, bought a case of refill cartridges from a now defunct Japanese bookstore in Cambridge. All those little tubes of ink and years later, still have quite a few. Thankfully.

David DeGrand said...

I'm definitely going to order one of the Pentel Pocket Brush pens after this post, it looks like a great tool that's simple to use. My current favorite inking tool is a Loew-Cornell 795 Round brush. It has a really nice line variety and can go from super thin to bold easily. And thanks again for the drawing, it fits in with the collection nicely!

Louise Smythe said...

OH HAPPY DAY! This will come in handy. Thank you!

Miguel B. Núñez said...

Good post!

R.Dress said...

Interesting. But is the ink water proof?

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