Tuesday, October 10, 2017


It is here again Inktober is upon us.  Since I have not been making an ink drawing every day I figure I will share some tips and tricks for old school pen nib and ink drawing.  This type of ink drawing can be intimidating at first but if you practice and keep at it you will find you have much more control, and ability to vary line weight and shape of your pen stroke then most other ink mediums.  By no means am I an expert with these techniques!  There is always something new to learn, just check out some works by a master like Bernie Wrightson such amazing style and execution it makes me want to never pick up a pen again.  That said let's do it anyways.

First the tools I like to use, Hunt Artists Pen nibs, made by Speedball.  I like 104 size for almost all my work.  If you can swing it buy them by the dozen.  Even if you keep your tips very clean they will loose there smooth feeling over time, if it starts to feel scratchy load up a new one.  Experiment with different sizes, there are beginner sets that come with different size handles and pen nibs try them all.

Buy quality ink!  My preference is Super Black by Speedball.  Cheap ink will have inconsistent pigmentation, and flow something that may not be apparent at first but as it dries you will see variations in the density of the black.   This little ink bottle was a gem I found on eBay, it was salvaged from a WW2 German bunker outside of Leningrad, aside from historical significance I love the design, it has a built in grove to hold the pen, I bought a new cork for the top and now it's my go to for all my ink work.  Take that World War 2 Germans!

The piece I was working on is my tribute to Astro Sloth and his dedication to space exploration.

If you have used pen and ink before some of this might be pretty 101 basic stuff, hopefully I can impart some new wisdom for the beginner and experienced inker.  Dip the pen tip about half way then on scratch paper drag a few lines to prime the tip and get rid of any extra ink, the worst thing is to have a big heavy drip of ink hiding on the back of the tip waiting to drop down on your art and ruin everything.  Keep paper towel nearby! 

A very basic exercise make small lines start with more pressure and lighten it quickly to get a nice tampered line.   Controlling your line thickness with pressure is the key to dynamic line weight in your art.

You can get an idea of the combination of thin and thick lines as well as tapered lines to add light and shadow.  Also for some of the very thin lines I will turn the tip slightly so it is more on the edge for a very thin line.

The manner that you hold the pen is crucial to the result.  The way I do it is to kind of lock the pen into my natural wrinkly hand grooves.  Click on the pic to get a better view, the angle of the pen tip to the paper helps, not too high and straight down, more of a low angle, then of course pull the line.  Turn the paper to get the best direction to pull the line or to use the natural curve movement of your hands natural pivot.   Repetition will help you find your most comfortable position.

You can see the varying line weight, and the use of ink cases to pull out the shadows.  The lettering I did free hand, I wanted it to look a bit rough around the edges.

Using guides can be tricky.  The fluid tension of the ink will make it grab on to the guide edge and cause dripping.  Make sure your guide has the bumps to raise it off the paper, the little air gap helps prevent clinging.  Try and drag / pull your line in one confident movement, if you stop and start you might get some uneven line weight, hold the guide down nice and firm, show it who's the boss!

For longer lines if your guide doesn't have bumps tape pennies close to one edge to raise it up.  Practice pulling your lines on a separate sheet of paper before you go for it with the real art.  Always wipe of the edge after every line.

Ink washes!  A tray for Sushi is my preferred ink wash dish, a bit of water and you can always see how light or dark it's going to be.  I use a fine water color brush after the ink line has dried I do a light wash to punch the shadows.

There we go, I hope there were some useful tips here, the best way to learn is just start doing it.
Happy Inktober everybody!

Friday, October 6, 2017


New in the online store now enamel robot pins!  "Pour Some Gas On Then Problem" A robot solution for our modern day issues.  This highly detailed enamel pin is 1 inch tall and 1 inch wide with a shiny brass butterfly clutch back.  Produced by Britt Markey and the Telluride Arts HQ Gallery these pins are sure to go fast.  There are only 10 in stock!  Price includes free shipping.


Sunday, October 1, 2017


Astro Sloth has a new home the writers room at "The Expanse" the hit show on Syfy Network.
I couldn't be happier that he has found another incarnation as a muse for such a talented team!