Tag Archives: ink

Portrait Course, lesson # 28

18 Apr

Portrait Course 20110418 # 1

Finished ink sketch of a male model. While the model as a whole is fine, I need to practice on the features, especially the ears.

There will be a break of four weeks until the next portrait course lesson. That will give me an opportunity to brush up on my weaker points.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this brief report of my portrait session.

Sarah Jessica Parker

14 Apr

My guess was (and still is) that I keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and that those mistakes are preventing me from getting better at drawing (well there’s some progress). I want to escape “amateur hour” and get more serious about my craft.

I picked a photo from my TV guide of Sarah Jessica Parker and decided to stick to it as close as possible, using rather crude tools (4H pencil and Pentel Color Brush pen) for rendering a full body at such a small size (less than 20 cm high).

Sarah Jessica Parker

While the end result might not surprise you if you have followed me lately, how I came to this result is what interested me and might interest you too. So I recorded the full 20 minutes drawing session with my iPod Touch on a stand (mic stand with a clamp to hold the mic).

In the inking stage my voice becomes very soft, as I’m trying to see the whole picture. I’m sure I’m using both halves of my brain at that stage, preventing me to talk in a normal conversational voice. I’m sorry for that. I guess once my process is more established, I’ll be able to give more attention to talking to you guys and gals.

Some observations. Drawing what you see, isn’t literally drawing what you see, but rather observing, reasoning, forming an idea in your mind, and executing that idea. Since that idea can be wrong, it’s important to stay loose in the initial stages. As you can see in the video, I went into detail far too early, and made some wrong assumptions.

Furthermore, since inking is permanent, it’s important to form some kind of plan in your mind’s eye, and use the sketch to formalize that plan, containing little reminders and hints of what you were thinking. It’s about how to put something on paper, where and with what line quality. I think sketching should be an important part of the inking, and be used to annotate your though process. It isn’t a rendering, but rather a visual guide for the inking. A sketch is not a drawing, not a finished piece of art.

I need to change my attitude to sketching and treat it like the intermediate step it really is. Less is often better, because it’s less confusing for the inker (which is the same person here, but doesn’t have to be).

Portrait Course, lesson # 27

11 Apr

I have practiced inking since the previous time I did an ink drawing of this male model, and I think it had its effect. My lines were much more deliberate (which is a good thing in inking).

Portrait Course 2011-04-11 # 1
⇧ With only a small correction of the (model’s) right glass of the spectacles, I made this preparatory sketch for my ink drawing. I used 2H lead, because it doesn’t smear as much as the HB and B-type leads. My digital camera had a hard time picking up the lighter lines.

Portrait Course 2011-04-11 # 2
⇧ I needed 45 minutes (out of an hour) to ink the sketch. Alas, my instructor is a fine artist and has little experience with contour drawing, which is more illustration than fine art.

As always there were parts I was satisfied with and then there were parts that I would do differently next time. Fortunately, the good parts were in the majority.

Portrait Course, lesson # 26

4 Apr

We had a new model, a man with specs on.

Portrait Course 2011-04-04 # 1
⇧ Pencil sketch of a male model with a pair of spectacles. I didn’t need much help, only in the initial setup. This one was drawn much bigger than the observed size. It means I must think in proportions and can’t rely on drawing from life.

Portrait Course 2011-04-04 # 2
⇧ Final inks. I just didn’t have enough time to do proper inking and my brush wasn’t suited for inking, really. Even so, I think I did a better job than the previous time. Practice will make perfect, I’m sure.

Portrait Course, lesson # 25

28 Mar

Today I decided to use my Pentel color brush pen to do a portrait of the same model we had last week. However, I wanted to use airbrush ink instead of the original Pentel brush ink, which comes in cartridges (as part of the pen).

Portrait Course 2011-03-28 # 1

⇧ Undersketch of the model in 2H lead. The instructor gave me a few hints, because ink knows no mercy.

Portrait Course 2011-03-28 # 2

⇧ Inking, if you’re not used to it, is like swimming while you’re drowning. There’s no undo button, few opportunities to hide or repair mistakes. It’s now or never, no regrets.

I couldn’t load enough ink on it for the large size of paper I was using. Next time I should use a regular brush and India ink. It’s a pain to clean a regular brush, but the result can be so much more satisfying.

Chinese brush painting

29 Mar

I base these instructions on an art book written by Pauline Cherrett.

Chinese brush painting is nothing like how Western inkers handle there brushes. Western inking artists pull their brushes mostly towards them –with some sideway movement for expediency– by resting their elbows on a table (and even more of the lower arm, up to the outside of the hand to have more control). It could be called “control by restriction”.

Chinese brush painting, on the other hand, is much more based on movement. How you hold your brush and how much force you apply on the brush, and how that force varies during the movement is suddenly very important. You want to restrict your hand as little as possible, but instead use your shoulder joint and wrist to guide the brush, fast and precise. The idea is that you “float” with your brush over the paper in any direction you see fit. You may support the wrist of your hand (e.g. with your other hand), but in no case should you restrict the movement of your brushing hand by supporting the side of that hand.

I like to see as follows: artists tend to ink like they are used to write.

Now for some detailed description how to hold the brush for Chinese brush painting.

Grab hold of the brush as you would a an eating stick. Put the brush between your middle and ring finger, with the handle against your ring finger’s nail. Support that finger with the little finger, and use the index finger to support the middle finger. Put the point of your thumb on the handle. Between the handle and the palm of your hand there should be enough room for an egg. Don’t hold the handle too tight and start by holding the handle at the halfway point. You’ll gradually get used to this grip.

Chinese inking brush grip 1
For firm strokes, keep your brush upright.

Chinese inking brush grip 2
For soft petals use a slanted position. You should be able to stroke the brush in both vertical and horizontal direction. The wrist and grip on the brush should be flexible enough to make a circular movement.

Chinese inking brush grip 3
To be able to move the brush in any direction, the arm should not rest on the table.

Chinese inking brush grip 4
For a successful painting, it is essential to hold the brush in a proper manner. For thin lines, keep the brush vertical like an eating stick, and apply little pressure.

Chinese inking brush grip 5
By moving the brush while increasing pressure, you start with a thin line that gradually gets wider. How fast that happens depends on the applied pressure.

Chinese inking brush grip 6
Use the side of the brush for broad strokes. You could use the entire length of the brush, but it is best to keep part of the brush as “reserve”.

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.