Monday, March 14, 2016

My tools of the trade for drawing with pen and ink


This goes with my post on producing pen and ink drawings. I've been asked what kind of pens I use, and I thought I would show all the tools I use.

This first photo is of my mini-studio that is set-up in a corner of my house. One of the reasons I started doing pen and ink drawings was that I needed a minimal amount of space to work in.

The desk set-up consists of a home-made light table bolted to an adjustable-angle drawing table I picked up at a garage sale. The lamp is an old Flexo swing-arm fluorescent lamp I picked up on the cheap and refurbished.


This photo shows my complete kit for pen and ink drawing. Everything fits in two small wooden drawers I salvaged from an old oak machinist's chest. Did I mention that another reason I do pen and ink is because I need minimal artist's materials?


Here are my tools for the preliminary drawings: a .3mm mechanical pencil with B lead for drawing on tracing paper, another 3mm pencil with H lead for transferring the drawing from tracing paper to drawing paper, and a ruler. I also have a couple of 18" rulers that Use for establishing perspective, etc. I use mechanical pencil with retractable tips since I am always dropping them and one bounce on the floor can bend the tip. (The ones I use are Pentel Graph Gear 1000 pencils.) Better to get into the habit of always retracting the tip when I leave the drawing table.


I use pigmented fiber-tipped pens. My brand of choice is Sakura Pigma Micron. I have tried other brands, but always end up coming back to Pigma. I've used Pigma pens for over 20 years and the drawings I did back in the 90s still show no signs of fading. I use pens with 005 tips. The fiber tips wear down with use. One pen will last me for two to three drawings. I keep the pens with worn tips for stippling.


Magnifying glass--absolutely essential for my drawings. The average size for one of my drawings is 7" x 10", and many are 5" x 7' or smaller.


My ink eradication tools. If I made a mistake or change my mind, it is possible to "erase" the ink and then re-ink that part of the drawing. A good ink eraser may be enough if the ink lines are light. The next step would be sandpaper--such as from a sandpaper pencil sharpener. I just tear off a partial sheet, fold it up and then lightly sand the inked area. For heavy action I use a fine-tipped X-acto knife to scrape away the ink layer. (This is all predicated on using high-quality thick paper that can take a lot of punishment.) After the ink is vanquished I'll erase the affected area with a gum eraser and then burnish the paper to flatten the fibers. My burnisher of choice is an old Letraset spoon-shaped burnisher.  Once the area is burnished I can usually go back in and re-ink.


I clean up the finished drawing by going over it with a gum eraser to get rid of pencil lines, followed by a powdered gum eraser to remove smudges.

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