Slightly changed my inking habits

9 Nov

Until now I have mainly inked with a Faber-Castell PITT artist’s brush pen, because it is so easy to do. However, I noticed that if you try to do very thin lines, the mark left by the felt tip tends to be broken. The brush pen is great for thick lines and filling areas, but when you try to put more detail into your inked drawing, it tends to get “mushy”. That’s why, as of today’s fan art for Beardus Maximus, I added the dip pen permanently to my inking arsenal. Its metal point should better withstand the pressure of my drawing hand, and enable me to draw finer details. I still will be using the brush pen, because it’s great for filling large areas, and uses the exact same India ink.

The pen I’m using is a Dutch version of the dip pen, known in Dutch as “kroontjespen” (see this translated article from the Dutch Wikipedia website). You need to use a paper stock that has a fairly smooth surface, and even then, the split point can get stuck if you move the nib in the wrong direction. You need to pull the nib towards you or sideways, but never away from you. This means you need to turn the paper, and also take care the lines you connect with are already dry.

The ink bottle shouldn’t be filled to the top, but instead only so much the nib can only get halfway into the India ink when the point reaches the bottom. The upper part of the nib should remain dry. If you load too much ink on the nib, the ink will spill on your artwork when you least expect it.

Also take care of your nibs. Although they aren’t expensive, it makes sense to keep your nibs clean by wiping the ink off if you’re not inking for 5 minutes or more. When you’re finished, rinse the tip of the nib under running tap water and dry carefully by dipping on a paper towel or tissue paper. Never force the nib to split, because that will make the ink lines less well defined.

Before you ink your piece, break the nib in by trying it out on a piece of scrap paper. Once the lines are consistent in blackness and line width, use it on the “real thing”. It also prepares you mentally for the inking process. Ink strokes should be done swiftly, with some “pre-flight movements”. You hover with your nib over the line you want to draw several times and then do it in one fell swoop. You want confident lines, because that will translate in artwork that looks “professionally done”, by an experienced artist.

An alternative is to do small movements, to break up a big line into smaller lines. But even then, you do some hovering over the paper before you put the point on the paper. What you want to avoid is ink all flowing off the nib point as it hits the paper surface at a right angle. Rather than that, you want to approach the paper almost parallel to its surface, so there’s almost no impact and less risk for the ink to transfer to the paper because of deceleration forces.

Inking requires patience. Not only because the ink needs to dry, but also because you do more than just tracing your underdrawing. Inking is as much a form of art as drawing is. It is a skill you learn by doing.

That is all.

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