Sunday, October 5, 2008

The brush pen is mightier than the sword

I promised myself a little present once Cold Iron Badge was up and running. Something fun and somehow related to comics. It took about a month until I finally decided to get a new pen. A brush pen. And that has got me thinking a lot about inking lately.
I went back and forth quite a bit in deciding how I would ink CIB. I really like the smooth flowing lines of Jeff Smith. But I also really like the hatching and tonal work Masamune Shiro does in Appleseed. And REALLY like the inking by Haruhiku Mikimoto in Marionette Generation. But I, having never inked a comic before, don’t have a defined style. As a result, the inking is the thing that changes the most. On days when I am feeling meticulous (and have the time), the lines are more smooth. When I am feeling more pressed for time, the lines are more sketchy. As things progress, I expect “my style” to emerge.
So far I have been using various pens. I tried a bunch of brands and eventually settled on a very fine Sharpie, because I really wasn’t seeing a huge difference between them and because Sharpies are, well, cheap. Although on pages 30-32, I tried a disposable brush pen. I was really happy with the first few panels. The brush tip gives are nice organic line and it was easy to get a good variety of line weights… Until the tip started to wear out before the first page was finished. On the three pages I used a brush pen, I went through four pens and actually broke a sweat from concentrating on controlling the lines. Once the tip started to degrade, I couldn’t get really fine lines anymore. That was really frustrating. I spent so long on those pages that I went back to the Sharpie. And so I expected it would be for the rest of the story.
Then I found my new pen.
It’s a Pentel brush pen with an ink cartridge and an actual brush tip with bristles and I love it. I can get really good range of line weights and I can even us it to paint in big areas of black. I find especially useful for texturing hair. The only draw back to it is that it requires a really steady hand. I have had a few “what the hell was I thinking” moments, to be sure, but all-in-all, I like my brush pen.

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