A few months ago, I ordered myself a Pelikan fountain pen. I had been wanting one for a while now, but couldn’t bring myself to spend the $100+ it would cost, but in one of those moments of thinking “my artwork stinks, and the tools that I am using MUST be the problem”, I broke down and ordered one. It took me a while to find an ink that was black, yet wouldn’t clog the pen, until I settled with the rapidograph black ink. With my other pens, I would dip them in Speedball Super Black ink, which I find a decent, black ink, but it’s just too thick for fountain pens. (It worked for a while, but started to clog, and before using the pen I’d have to empty it out and refill it everytime, which stopped me from being productive at those times when I don’t have time to sit down and draw properly, but I happen to be passing by and see my unfinished comic page and decide to ink for 5 minutes just to get a few lines drawn, or get a small panel inked, which really ads up in the long run). I know that Sergio Aragones uses Badger brand non-acrylic black ink for his Pelikan Pen, but I couldn’t even find that ink on the internet, or anywhere for that matter…….. does it still exist?
I must say, I’m really happy that I picked up one of these pens, as the nib is more flexible than the Rotring art pens that I’ve been using, so you get a bit more of a thick and thin line out of it (and that’s something that I feel I need to work on a bit more with my artwork). The fact that it’s (for the most part) maintenance free helps because I very rarely have a full day to sit down and draw comics, so it’s quick and easy to just pick it up and start inking (now that I’ve found a decent ink).
I’m still experimenting and looking for a good mix of weapons for my comic making adventures, and trying to figure out what tool works best for what part of the drawing. I’ve experimented a bit with brush and ink (see the missile smoke/fire on the previous photo above) and I really like the possibilities with that, but I’m nowhere near confident enough with a brush to try inking characters and such, but it is something that I’m going to work on. (man, there’s a lot to learn still…..) What tools do you guys use? What kind of paper/illustration board? What’s your favorite ink, and why? For myself, I’m still experimenting, but maybe that’s a career long task.
Honestly, I had to actually look up the price of that pen to make sure you didn’t make a type. (I’ve probably just exposed myself to your 100,000+ readers how much of a cheapskate I am!!)
But, if this tool is going to help you improve what you’re looking to improve, then of course it’s a great investment. It’s also very refreshing to hear an artist whose already knocked out 4 books/short stories to still consider himself a learner. I feel the same way with my work. I know I have so much yet to master, or even acquire a proficiency in, that there are hundreds of pages to go.
So much to learn in terms of drawing, inking, editing, design, etc. Even finding, as you mention, the right mix of tools to master. But that’s part of the fun. Not only finding the story in each of our latest comics, but the process to get it done best. Which way is fastest? Most productive? Gives me as close an approximation to how I see the finished product in my head?
Since you asked, here’s my tool kit:
1-Legal size typing/printer paper for thumbnails
2-Good old fashioned Dixon Ticonderoga 2HB Soft pencils for thumbnails/pencilling
3-Prismacolor Verithin Non-photo blue pencil for penciling
4-Blue Line Art pre-printed comic book pages (shamefully, too lazy to cut and trim my own bristol boards…)
5-Dr. Ph. Martin’s Black Star waterproof India ink or the Rapidograph black india ink (Possum-style!)
6-Hate to admit it, but I don’t really have a set-in-stone preference. I currently have a Winsor Newton Sable/Synthetic. Either #0 or #1. Actually have to buy some new ones, as the current ones look like I brushed my teeth with ’em!!
7-Will sometimes use Sharpies and Faber-Castell Pitt brush pens for fills. Sometimes I even draw with the Pitt pens, depending on size of drawing or if it’s for a pin-up/promo art.
Yeah, the Pelikan pen WAS pricey, but it works really, really well, and you can really feel the difference with it, compared to cheaper fountain pens. It hasn’t made my drawings miraculously better, but I think there’s a very subtle bit more juice to the lines now. (I bet no one would see it but me though, but maybe they’d ‘feel’ it). It’s funny, as you say that I have 4 books out, but I really consider myself a newbie at this comic stuff. Speaking to Dave Sim, Mike asked him when he felt that he finally figured out certain brush techniques, and he replied that he didn’t quite ‘get it’ until he was well into Glamourpuss!!!! 6000+ pages and well over 26 years of constantly producing comics and he didn’t ‘get it’ until well after all of that! It gives me hope and is very crushing at the same time…… oh well, I guess I’m gonna have to keep drawing!
Thanks for sharing your tools! I think I’m just now starting to feel comfortable enough with drawing comics to start experimenting with my tools. Before, I had enough to think about with just getting the ink onto the page, lettering, story, etc. I find my brain can’t handle figuring everything out at once, so each issue I pick something else to experiment with. This issue, it’s getting the word balloons and lettering working better and experimenting a bit more with ink, pens and brushes…….. Baby steps!
Another great blog.
Love ones like this.
I personally use a set of Copic Multi-Liners with an endless set of nib and ink refills.
For paper I use illustration boards by Fanboy but if I just want a quicky I get some fancy printer paper by HP (98 bright, 32 pound, it’s such a high quality for ink work and you get 500 sheets!) or one of those bleedproof marker pads that only come in 40 sheets for like 10 bucks or more…so worth it though.
Anyways, thanks for your insights, I’ll have to track down one of these fancy inking pens.