Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

A Good Pen
Metalbender92 at 5:27PM, Dec. 10, 2008
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If you were going to draw by hand and scan in the comics for coloring, what pen would you use to draw with? It doesn't need to be anything fancy, just something that doesn't bleed all over the paper.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
Skullbie at 5:35PM, Dec. 10, 2008
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Sakura microns were a very nice pen for inking pencils, on bristol board. The nicest of any ‘pen’ in the world I've used is brush and ink. I took me a while to control it but no marker or quill can get the smooth line of a brush.


And if you can't get used to ink you can always scan pencils then adjust the ‘levels’ and brightness contrast to make it look like ink.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:46PM
mattchee at 7:48PM, Dec. 10, 2008
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When I inked traditional like, I used rapidographs… or “technical pens” I guess would be the general term. I love laying down rich wet black inks on bristol… OHHHH! *sigh* kinda miss that actually.

Anyway to echo Skullbie, probably the best looking results will come from a brush (though there are a lot of technical pen inkers that do some remarkable stuff). Over time I began to notice that my tech pen inking was really fake brush inking: IE - I would outline my “strokes” and fill them in. This was way tedious, and more so than it needed to be! Why not just use a brush?

Course at that point, saving-time-minded and all, i just decided to go all digital… so I never really put too much time in with the brush. When I do stuff traditionally now, I typically use a brush pen… they're easier and more convenient than a brush (great for cons or being anywhere besides your drafting table).

These are my faves:

Pigma Brush #1 - Very nice, VERY pliable. Smooth ink.

Faber Castell PITT brush pens are also very nice, and much stiffer/springier than the Pigmas, which I kinda dig.

Brush pens are a double edged sword though, while they're convenient and easy, they turn into total crap pretty quickly!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
CharleyHorse at 7:12AM, Dec. 11, 2008
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What can I say Metalbender92? Skullbie and mattchee know what they are talking about! I have been using 110 pound card stock, which can be found in office supplies stores. It's cheaper than Bristol board and already cut to letter size dimension and comes to 250 pages to a package, but still stiff enough and thick enough so that it does not wrinkle during the erasing process.

I have been using Faber Castell artist pens in extra-fine, fine, medium, and brush sizes. I just tried the brush-pen on cheap 20lb stock inkjet paper and the ink did not bleed through the paper. But as the previous posters noted, there are a good number of pen and brush materials out there. You have to do a bit of experimentation. For instance, I didn't know that my particular pen-brush would not bleed through light weight paper until I tried it.

It probably does depend on your art surface. What sort of paper have you been using?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
Daiconv at 8:06AM, Dec. 12, 2008
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I really don't like sakura microns because I push down really hard when I ink and they wear out too quick.

I love Faber Castell brush pens, but yeah, like everybody before me said, inking with an actual brush is the best once you master it. It just has a steep learning curve.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
skoolmunkee at 12:30PM, Dec. 12, 2008
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Depends on what you want from it. There are thousands of quality inking products out there, from pen to brush to what have you. Technical pens (micron, zig, staedtler, rapidograph for the rich, etc) are great for a smooth, even-width line if you are looking for regular, controlled-looking art. They were originally architecht's pens and are designed to be used with rulers and other apparatus. Line art people often use these because they can be very precise and you can get in a lot of detail with the fine nibs.

Brushes and brush pens are seen as more ‘artistic’ because they are much more about quality of line, flow, variable width, etc. They take more control to use (and when done badly, look VERY bad). Used for more ‘organic’ looking art, conveying motion, and giving lines ‘weight’. Most people avoid full-on brushes and go for brush pens, I prefer Pentel's or Kuretake a distant second.

Others who have tablets or wacoms just ink digitally- they can control brushes in art programs to keep lines rigid or get a more brush-y effect. This is cheaper than buying supplies if you already have the equipment, but takes a bit of practice to make it look natural. Also, save often. :)
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
angry_black_guy at 8:54PM, Dec. 14, 2008
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Glimmer is inked with a hunt “school” nib which is stiffer than “drawing” nib but is larger and smoother than a “crowquil.” I prefer nibs because I'm too heavy handed for a brush but I still get a flexible, pressure sensitive line. Nibs are also cheaper, disposable, and don't require meticulous cleaning. When I'm done inking a comic I just soak a paper towel in water, wipe off the nib, and let it air dry. Nibs only last me maybe 3 or 4 drawings but they're cheap so I just toss one out and stick in a fresh one.

last edited on July 14, 2011 10:52AM
Koshou at 8:58PM, Dec. 14, 2008
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whenever I ink (which is way too rare…) I use Staedtler pigment liners. they come in packs of 4 different sizes and leave really nice, smooth lines. only problems are that it's harder to get smaller lines, and regular erasers-the pink kind and the hard art erasers-will dull the ink. (gummy erasers won't, though.)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:21PM
CharleyHorse at 9:05PM, Dec. 14, 2008
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angry_black_guy, that's weird about those nibs. I had read that modern nibs are being made with inferior metal and I guess your assertion proves that. All my nibs are a minimum of fifteen years old and although I seldom use them they have never shown any signs of wear.

My wife occassionally inks with them while I almost always use either a pen-brush or a real brush.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
skoolmunkee at 2:50AM, Dec. 15, 2008
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I forgot to say, if you just want something that won't bleed all over the paper, it's the paper that's more important and not the ink. As others have said, use heavy cardstock. It's really cheap, and you'll find that it won't bleed unless you're using something really watery. I think this is because with the thick cardstock, the ink soaks downward instead of outward (which it's forced to do on thin or fibrous paper). If you're looking for the cheapest solution that looks decent when scanned, just go with cardstock and whatever inky-type pen you like best. You could even use a sharpie, gel or rollerball pen (not a ballpoint) if you're not worried about everything still being crisp and black-and-white in 5 years.

Only go for the more expensive stuff (bristol paper, technical pens, etc) if you're sure that's the method you want to use and you know you'll be using them, otherwise you just end up wasting money.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:41PM
CharleyHorse at 7:15AM, Dec. 15, 2008
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Well said skoolmunkee. A word of caution though. I use 110lb card stock for all the reasons you stated as it is soooooooo much less expensive than Bristol Board. But it does have it's minor drawbacks, and the one that comes to mind is the use of Sharpies. While the ink from a Sharpie will not spread outwards in a bleed effect it will soak through the card stock, especially if the artist goes over the same area twice, and ink whatever surface is beneath it.

While I almost never use sharpies, I did find that using a sacrifice piece of card stock as a back mat took care of that problem. Aside from sharpies, however, card stock works marvelously well!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
angry_black_guy at 9:59AM, Dec. 15, 2008
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CharleyHorse
angry_black_guy, that's weird about those nibs. I had read that modern nibs are being made with inferior metal and I guess your assertion proves that. All my nibs are a minimum of fifteen years old and although I seldom use them they have never shown any signs of wear.

My wife occassionally inks with them while I almost always use either a pen-brush or a real brush.

They are made with inferior metal that rust easily and are stupidly fragile. I used to order tachikawa brand nibs from Japan but in the last year or two their quality has degraded.

The longest I've used a nib is maybe a month before the teeth start crossing over or the tip warps. One time I got so pissed off mid-drawing that I pushed down and snapped the nib in half.

I started cutting my own pens out of bamboo which I grow in a tiny pot that sits on my window sill. Bamboo grows so fast that I can cut about 4 or 5 pen sized “sticks” a week. If I want a stiff nib, I dehydrate the stick by letting it sit out in the sun. If I want a flexible nib, I cut it fresh and soak it in water.

You could even use a sharpie, gel or rollerball pen (not a ballpoint) if you're not worried about everything still being crisp and black-and-white in 5 years.

Blech. I'm a pen nazi and all I can say is stay away from sharpies and rollerballs. They're not waterproof (which doesn't really matter if you're not using a wet medium) and they fade. I have a few sharpie drawn pictures from middle school and they look horrible. Sharpie ink also yellows depending on your paper and exposure to light. Also, like CharleyHorse mentioned sharpie ink is so acidic that it bleeds deeply into paper. I use 140lb hot-press watercolor paper and a sharpie bleeds all the way through. On two or three passes over the same area, a sharpie bleeds through 300lb watercolor paper!

These “traditional tools” topics are pretty common. I think I'm going to start reviewing tools on my blog.

EDIT: Whoops, forgot to add the alternative to sharpies. If you really want to fill in blacks you can't go wrong with a brush and ink. For filling in blacks you don't need anything expensive; a cheap artificial hair brush is like 3$ and a big 3oz. bottle of ink (which will last you many months unless your comic is like 99% black) is maybe 5$. It will last you longer than a sharpie, the ink won't yellow, and it won't bleed through your paper.

last edited on July 14, 2011 10:53AM
CharleyHorse at 10:41AM, Dec. 15, 2008
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angry_black_guy
I started cutting my own pens out of bamboo which I grow in a tiny pot that sits on my window sill. Bamboo grows so fast that I can cut about 4 or 5 pen sized “sticks” a week. If I want a stiff nib, I dehydrate the stick by letting it sit out in the sun. If I want a flexible nib, I cut it fresh and soak it in water.

That is positively brilliant! I recall about forty-five years ago watching my older brother treat real goose and turkey feathers the same way to create genuine quill ink pens. I don't care what anybody else thinks, the old ways are quite often still the better way of doing things.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
mattchee at 11:31AM, Dec. 15, 2008
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I used to use sharpies to fill in blacks back in the day. Regret it now for archival reasons. I've recently been going over some REALLY old stuff (well, 15 years old) and most of it has held up, but there is sharpie stuff that has yellowed severely.

As far as paper, Strathmore 300 or 400 series smooth are my favorites. I've never had bleeding problems, etc. I recently picked up some of Canson's “fanboy” line on clearance. What I've used has worked out well so far with the PITT pens, Pigmas, and India Ink.

last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
authorfly at 1:00PM, Dec. 15, 2008
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I dont know if anyone else has tried these pens, but I like Liquid Expresso pens from Paper Mate. Its a thick grip ped with an extra fine felt tip, and it leaves behind beautiful thick unbroken lines that dont bleed through most kinds of paper. Though I draw on Strathmore Sketch paper.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:11AM
lba at 8:41PM, Dec. 15, 2008
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Some sharpies don't yellow and age as badly as others it seems. I dug through some of the earliest comics I ever did about 10 years ago and remarkably, the off-brand permanent markers I was using at the time are still relatively dark. They're not pitch black, but then they never were to begin with. If you want something like a sharpie that covers a lot and gives the same effects, then prismacolors are great.

In that regards though, I'm way preferential to On The Run markers. They were developed for graffiti artists to make sketches with and they have the same range of colours as prismacolor without bleeding. Only problem is that they're about as expensive as a box of prismacolor markers is and you can't get them in anything but a box set. But they're worth it if you know you'll use them.

If you can't afford something like that, you can pick up sharpie paint pens which give a closer true black when scanned than even india ink.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM

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