February 27, 2011

Manga Pens + Comic Art Supplies // Review

Hey friends,

I thought I'd do some product reviews of Japanese art/manga supplies.  I don't exclusively use Japanese brands, but man, they are pretty sweet.  I did a review of Japanese brushes made by Pentel, and you can see that here.  This time around, it's all about pens.



I literally freaked with excitement at Loft this fall, wanted to roll around in the manga supply section and throw pens in the air like someone who just won the lottery, rolling around on dollar bills.  Seriously, get on a plane and go to Japan and buy lots and lots of art supplies.

Since the Japanese have a bigger market for comics than in the US (in 2007, Japan spent 406 BILLION Y/$3.6 BILLION USD on manga - compared to the US comic market, pulling in about $500million) and therefore have a bigger market for comic art supplies.  You can go into any stationary store, no matter how far into the country-side, and find great, cheap stuff for drawing and inking.  Of course you would! The entire writing system is calligraphic!



Inking comics with a pen is usually a no-no.  The line has no character, it flattens out your beautiful pencil work, and generally looks crappy.  But it really depends on the look you're going for!  And there are plenty of great pens that have great line quality.

....................PENS I USE FOR INKING COMICS......................


 Tachikawa School G Pen   fountain pen | black + sepia |  $8 each | refills $5 for 2  ..... GRADE: F


PROS // This WAS easily my favorite fountain pen ever. The ink quality is fantastic, dries relatively quickly [in case you are prone to accidental hand-smudging like me], and the tip is super reinforced,[in case you are prone to accidentally dropping stuff, like me.]

CONS // It suddenly stopped working!! And I simply couldn't revive it no matter what kind of water or ink solution I used to get the ink flow back.  Sadly both of these pens are useless and I have thrown them out.
...................................................................................................................


Pentel Super Fine Point  felt-tip pen | black | about $3 ea. ............................................ GRADE: B+

PROS // A solid stand-by for any straight-line stuff you need to do.  Doesn't fade much after erasing, and is pretty good to just sketch with.  Above is an environment study I did for a ship interior of Pirates of Mars, and used this pen for the whole thing.

CONS // Ink will definitely bleed a lot if you hold the pen in one spot too long, and definitely has no line character.  Good, but kind of meh. Not really super fine point.
........................................................................................


Tachikawa pen holder with grip + Nikko nibs | holder: $10 nibs: $4 for 3 ............. GRADE: A+
[nibs shown: School pen, Saji Chrome + Tame Chrome]

PROS // Great, solid pen.  Wood handle with soft grip is extremely comfortable, and the top will fit any size nib you get.  Nibs are super smooth and excellently crafted.  I dropped on - on the tip! - and it barely bent. Still works great!  Nice line character, too [above]

CONS // Hard to find in the US and it's a tad expensive for just a holder + grip, but highly recommended and worth it. (Don't skimp on the non-grip just to save $3!)

.................................INK................................
I highly recommend these for quill pens and brush painting.


Deleter | ink graded 1 - 5 for depth of blackness | about $4 a bottle .................................. GRADE: A
PROS // beautiful quality, I use #5 the most often for it's velvety feel. #4 is the most waterproof
CONS // smells awful, like tilled soil and needs to be ordered online

Yasutomo sumi ink | about $4 ............................................................................................ GRADE: A-

PROS //available at most art suppliers, more ink per bottle than Deleter
CONS // not as black as Deleter - leave the cap off for a night and let some excess water evaporate

.................................OTHER STUFF..................................


Deleter White | ink for corrections | about $6 .......................................................... GRADE: F
PROS // ....
CONS // Personally, I HATE THIS STUFF. It takes forever to dry, makes your ink mix and turn gray, and takes about 45 coats to get pure white.  Skip the expense and just use cheap acrylic paint.



My favorite thing is to use a combination of brush and quill pen, like in the above panel.  My top supplies being a Pentel Pocket Brush pen, Tachikawa School-G, Deleter #5 and a Lowe Cornell #4 comfort brush for solid blacks.

 Thanks for reading!

February 24, 2011

Inspiration - Paul Rivoche


Andy gave me a great issue of Draw! from 2002, and it had a fantastic interview with Paul Rivoche.  Before I knew his name, I was familiar with Paul's work for Batman the Animated Series, Superman and the comic Mister X.  He remains a constant source of inspiration.

Opening to Batman: The Animated Series

I think there is a tendency for some artists to get really wrapped up in what they think is the "fun stuff" - organic things like bodies, faces, flora, fauna and subject matter like that.  But then there is a gap with the ability to make the background, or all the little things that are an important part of the universe they inhabit.

Paul doesn't cut corners or miss anything - he goes straight for the hard stuff - the structure. Building the space and putting the characters in it, instead of the other way around.

It seems like something everyone should know to do, and yet I still find myself starting with the character and saying "oop, wait, let's draw the room first"


I looked to these images often to help with the Pirates of Mars designs!

Thanks for the inspo, Paul

February 23, 2011

Japanese music to draw to

I thought I'd post some Japanese music I've been listening to lately. It really gets me into the zone!
Well, not to toot my own 角笛 [horn] but I think I've put together a pretty schweet mix for you guys - hope you enjoy!

Listening to this mix, I went to the Boston Public Library tonight to take reference photos, do some environment sketching and generally creep people out by drawing them.



 a little rough but not bad





Collected memories from cell phone pictures

February 20, 2011

Prawns

Painting study
Went to a flea market last week, and went to Boston to see "On the Bowery" at the Coolidge.
It was a nice weekend, I must say...  some cell pics:



Oh Punky, you little scamp.  I totally wanted to be her.

February 19, 2011

Future plans


We all start here don't we?  We all painted and drew and scribbled when we were kids, but most of us stop for some reason.  I try to teach my students at the museum how amazing it is they are even there.  The fact that they decide to spend their Saturdays with me in a museum is really special to me.

Imagine how much better they have become since being a little kid with a piece of crayon.  Imagine how much better they will become in only a year if they stick with it.




my students artwork - I only gave them 5 minutes to paint these.
They did a stellar job!

I have to keep these things in mind so I don't get lost in my own expectations, personally.  If I think about all the talented people in the world, I'll never get anything done, and won't get any better.

I've made a big decision to pursue working in the animation industry.  It's a plan for down the road, maybe 4 years or so, after I complete a few graphic novels, some personal projects, and put together a whole new portfolio.  But I really enjoy the collaborative process, and story-telling.

It's hard being here, mostly alone in my studio working like a hermit.  I make a breakthrough, look around and go "AM I RIGHT??...." but no one is there.  Just the dog.

And she doesn't offer any real feedback.

So my dream would either be to work in the art development department as an assistant art director or matte / background painter.  Making color/lighting/inspiration boards and work with concept artists.  I have no real animation experience, but I have faith that my illustration background is still worth something.  And I'll learn whatever I have to learn.

Andy got me a fab Pixar book for Valentine's Day, and Lindsay and Alex lent us their other Pixar concept art collections, so it's been a visual buffet this week:


Gotta keep making new work!  Later gators!

February 17, 2011

Commissioned

for Julia

for Sara

Hey friends,

For Valentine's Day, some very endearing boyfriends contacted me to make artworks for their significant others.  I love projects like these!  The top is an original piece for one of my favorite patrons, and the bottom is Garrus from Mass Effect, for the other half of my good friend John.  (You should check out John's new book "Girl Parts" - it's really something!)

I recently got my first mini SD card for my cell phone.  Only took about 5 years.  I can finally actually take the pictures from my cell and share them in all their lo-grade wonder. 

Here are a few things from the past...

 This is one of the cats that lives at the Ben Franklin bookstore here in Worcester

If you can, please visit Ben FranklinAfter many decades, they are sadly closing.  
It's more regretable than the loss of Borders, I think.

Please support them!  It's literally a diamond mine of wonderful used and rare books... [website]