Sunday, February 20, 2011

Inking tools, and newest assortment of pens (art-geeking)

I'm often asked what I use for my ink drawings.


Strathmore Bristol board, smooth, 300 series, is my preference, for ink. They also have a rough version, which works fine for ink too, though it has a tiny bit of tooth that shows up when scanning. So if you want a nice clean scan, the smooth is better. (Rough works great for pencils, however).

This bristol board is what I use for drawings like the ACEOs that I've been doing lately, as well as larger pieces like these:

I usually buy an 11x14 inch pad of it, and cut down sheets to whatever sizes I need. When working, I find it best to tape the piece of paper down by the corners to a masonite board to protect the edges, and also for ease of transportation and comfort when drawing. That way I can work while lounging on a couch, with the board on my lap, instead of always at the desk! Or at a convention table. Or in bed.

For my travel sketchbook, I have currently been enjoying Hand Book Artist Journals. Mine is a 6x6 inch square journal, with nice heavyweight sheets. They're thick enough to use brush pens and not have anything seep through to the back. It is cold press, so does have a bit of a tooth, but that makes it suitable for pencil as well, if you choose.

I also sometimes pick up sketchbooks with a neutral color base, and that makes for extra fun with being able to build up darks, or lights (with the use of white gel pen).

I usually prefer spiral-bound sketchbooks, so that the pages can lay perfectly flat. And while Hand Book journals are not, it still does flatten reasonably well. The other advantage to non-spiral binding is that the pages don't get as mangled when the book is tossed haphazardly into your backpack or purse. With spiral-bound books, I usually hand-construct a protective little box that the book can slide in and out of quickly, out of scrap mat board.

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Here's my main and basic drawing tool, Hi-Tec-C gel pens:
I first found these during my brief stint in Japan back in 2001, and instantly fell in love with them. When I got back to the US, the only place I was able to find that sold them were local chain Kunikuniya stores (selling Japanese books and stationary) in Japantown. I was lucky enough to have that close by. Though later I found them online as well, and now I usually buy them from my favorite pen-site,

The ink flows very smoothly. They come in dozens of colors (though I mainly stick to sepia, black, and brown). My preferred thickness is 0.3, which is a very nice and fine line. Occasionally I use some of the bright colors to accent paintings, blending the ink out with a wet brush. The painting on the right here, "Potential", is one example of such. I used red hi-tec-C gel pen for that really shockingly brilliant red of the butterflies, and blended with a wet brush while the ink was still wet, so that it melded with the watercolors.

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New acquisition, Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen - Gray Ink:
My father-in-law sent me this link to a review of this pen a couple weeks ago. As luck would have it, I was in need of a new brush pen, since the old one I've been using was running rather dry. I really like this one, though it's rather firmer than I was expecting. Though if you press hard, you can get a slightly wider line. It is water soluble, so fades out nicely if you take a brush of clear water to it. It's also not as light of a grey as I hoped for though, so I still need a secondary brush pen of some lighter shade.

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Another new acquisition, Kuretake Brush Writer Blendable Color Brush Pen - Light Grey:While I like the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen, I absolutely love this one. Its tip is much more of a real "brush", and so you can get a nice variety of strokes with it, and can really lay in a light grey wash or thin detail lines quite easily, with a fluid and organic grace. And they come in so many different colors (24)!

The only downside is that it's rather spendy. $7.50 for one pen. I'll have to see how long the ink in this lasts to decide whether its worth it to continue purchasing them.

Though I've usually stuck to black, this time around I picked up a sepia (mostly because hi-tec-C has a new sepia color as well!)

I like to have a very light grey brush pen for gradual shading, and sometimes for "sketching" (before applying darker tones), and a second brush pen of a much darker shade for bolder lines and shapes.

This pen has a very fine point, but the brush allows for thicker lines quite easily as well.

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And finally, Uniball Signo White Gel Pen:
I did a post a while back about the uses of white gel pens for painting. You can find that post -here-. I also use them with ink, when working on neutral tone paper. The shadows get worked in with the greys and blacks, and the highlights can be pulled forward with white gel pen.


  1. Thank you so much for all this valuable information. The funny thing is, I searched your blog yesterday for any reviews or tutorials on your inking, since I really want to try it thoroughly myself. And suddenly you posted a blog entry about it. Talk about luck! :D Thank you!

  2. I LOVE Art-geeking! These sound like some great products, and thanks for the JetPens site!

  3. Very useful... thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I think your work is amazing! Thank you for the tips!

  5. Ha... you considered my review when ordering the Kuretake Fudegokochi gray pen, and now I am considering your review in preparation to order a Kuretake Brush Writer :-)

    I'm glad you liked the Fudegokochi, but sorry it's too dark for your needs. I did notice the shade varies a bit depending on the paper - it may be that more sizing makes it lighter, so it would be at its lightest on watercolor paper. It also came out quite light on my vintage accounting paper.

    Anyway - thanks for the information on the Brush Writer; I'm hoping to love it as much as you did.

  6. I haven't had the chance to try it on too many different papers, but I'll give that a shot. Hope you like the brush writer! :)

  7. btw geminica --
    I'm liking the Fudegokochi more and more as I use it. And especially in conjunction with the Brush Writer. One is good for more loose and organic looking strokes. The other is good for further defining and development of details and such.