Step One: Tools
Following in the footsteps of the classic comic book artist, I use bristol board cut to 11âx17â. When I ïŹrst began, I used a standard smooth white bristol, which was ïŹne for Micron pens, but not up to the job when I made the switch to dip pens. The ink tended to bleed on the surface of the page, making the ïŹnal line quality unsatisfactory.*
After some experimenting I discovered I could get superior results with Strathmore vellum bristol. Unfortunately, it doesnât come in 11âx17â, so I have to trim it to size using a paper cutter.
*Itâs possible that I wasnât using the best ink at the time.
Pencils & Erasers:
- 5mm generic mechanical pencil
- H, HB, 2B wood pencils
- Pentel âClicâ eraser
- Staedtler Mars plastic eraser
For pencilling, I use H, HB, and 2B wood pencils during the layout phases, but usually ïŹnish the drawing using a generic .5mm mechanical pencil. I use Pentel âClicâ erasers for general erasing, and a big Mars block eraser for large areas plus clean-up when Iâve ïŹnished inking.
I get the best results from soft white plastic erasers like these.
- Higgins Waterproof Black India Ink
- Small & Large Hunt Nib holders
- Hunt 108 Flexible point nibs
- Hunt 56 School Round point nibs
- Hunt 101 Imperial point nib
- Sakura Pigma MICRON disposable technical pens
When I ïŹrst started drawing PS, I inked exclusively with Sakura Pigma MICRON technical pens because they were cheap and mess-free. As time progressed, I began experimenting with more varied line weights and the MICRONs just werenât cutting it. So, I took the plunge and started playing with old-style dipped nib pens.
I went through several different nibs before ïŹnally settling on the Hunt 108 Flexible nib. With it, I can get everything between really ïŹne to really fatâitâs perfect for my character inks. The 108s eventually do clog up, though, so I replace the nib every few pages. Also, for things like âstarburstâ effects and like, the Hunt 56 School Round Point nib works great, as does the Hunt 101 Imperial point nib.
Word to the wise, dip pen inking is not for the faint of heart. When ïŹrst starting out, be prepared to deal with drips and smudges before ïŹnally getting used to handling the pens. However, short of a complete disaster like spilling the ink bottle all over the page, there is little whiteout or an image editor like Photoshop canât ïŹx. In terms of line quality, I ïŹnd dip pens to be unmatchedâeven by my Wacom drawing tablet. I still use the MICRONs for my backgrounds. Iâll probably go the rapidograph route eventually. I like the ïŹuid lines that free-ïŹowing ink produces.**
**In fact, I have. Though, I still keep a supply of MICRONs around.
- 24â T-square
- 12âx6.785â 30Âș/60Âș triangle
- 10âxâ10â 45Âș triangle
- 8âx4.65â 30Âș/60Âș triangle
- 12â ruler w/ raised inking edge
You canât do without some sort of straight-edge. I use the big T-square and triangles to do initial page layout, and everything else comes into play when dealing with perspective for the backgrounds. The ruler is good for inking lines with the dip pens.
Digital Production Tools:
- Appleâą PowerMacâą G4 Quicksilver (867Mhz, 640MB RAM, 80GB HD)
- Adobeâą Photoshopâą
- Adobeâą Illustratorâą
- 8.5âx14â (legal) Flatbed Scanner
- 8.5âx6.25â Wacomâą Tablet
When doing artwork on a computer, make sure you have a machine that can handle the job. Luckily, these days most computers have plenty of horsepower. Although, I would recommend having lots of RAM and HD space over a beefy processor. As a professional graphic designer and illustrator, I prefer the Macintosh environment for my digital production, but I know plenty of artists out there who do ïŹne work on equivalent Windows PCs. I also highly recommend Adobe products if you afford them, but there are other inexpensive apps that can do a decent job in the right hands, too.
The Wacom tablet isnât necessary, but boy does it take the pressure off in the drawing stage. If you screw up, itâs really easy to ïŹx on the computer when you can draw in your image editor.