Tools for Black & White Illustration
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Thread: Tools for Black & White Illustration

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    Thumbs up Tools for Black & White Illustration

    This information is good for comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, paperbacks and editorial illustrations.

    Paper

    Three-ply bristol board with a kid finish is the best to use. A kid finish has enough tooth (roughness) in the paper for the pencil and is smooth enough to lay down india ink. Plate finish is too smooth for pencil work. A rough paper needs a fast, fluid ink. A smooth plate glossy paper requires a slow ink.

    While three-ply is the best; for economic reasons two-ply is used by most companies. But you can still be economical and use the best paper. Bristol board is available in large sheets. Buy it this way and cut it down to size. The art store may cut the paper to size for you in the store; if you are nice and say pretty please. This is the cheapest way to buy paper and get more bang for your buck.

    Comic books are usually drawn on two-ply bristol board. A rough finish may make some pen nibs catch on the tooth if you apply pressure. Ink takes longer to dry on the smooth plate finish, so be careful not to touch it.

    There is a difference between different brands of paper. Cheaper brands are less reliable.

    Pencil

    A non-repro blue pencil is great to use because you don't have to erase it. Anything that saves you time is an asset.

    Now if for some reason you do not want to use a non-repro blue pencil, then you can use a regular gray pencil. Even though pencils are referred to as having lead, it is really mostly graphite.

    Art pencils use the English scale to grade graphite which is a combination of numbers and letters with "B" standing for soft graphite that gets blacker the softer it is and much messier. The higher the number the softer the graphite and the more it smears.

    "H" stand for hardness of the graphite. The higher the number, the harder the graphite and the lighter the pencil mark made.

    "F" stands for fine point. As you start from F to 9H the pencil is able to hold a fine point longer.

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    The fun of art is exploring and playing with the tools to see what they can do. Run away from anyone that tells you you should use an HB or 2B pencil. Buy every pencil grade and draw with them all and see what works for you.

    Erasers

    Pink Pearl, plastic, art gum, kneaded and erasers are the kinds most often used. You don't want to let your palm touch the paper while you're drawing. Hand oils and sweat harm the paper surface and can make it difficult to erase and to lay down ink. So you certainly don't want to buy an eraser that has oil in it.

    All of the above erasers have oil in them which I stated is not good for the paper. So what is an artist to do?

    The answer is simple use something that doesn't have oil, which is POSTER ADHESIVE (poster putty). This is the removable/reusable adhesive used to hang posters and papers sold in most drug and stationery stores. The actual ingredients are corporate secrets. The important thing is it contains no oil!

    Ink

    Three types of ink:
    A) A pigment plus a binder, which is colorfast.
    B) A dyestuff such as fountain pen ink.
    C) A chemical precipitation such as ferrogallic or iron gall inks. Rembrandt and Van Gogh drew with iron gall inks.

    Liquid India ink was made in China during the middle of the 3000 BC. It is made of fine soot (lampblack) combined with water to form a liquid. A binding agent; gelatin or shellac is also added, which dries water-resistant and gives a permanent line.

    You want to use ink that is waterproof.

    Brushes

    Be prepared to spend lots of money on good brushes. Invest in a good brush! Wet the hair and make sure it will come to a point in the store. Hands down the brush to buy is Windsor·Newton Series 7. Number 2 and 3 are good sizes to own.

    Dip only the bottom of the brush in the ink. Never dip to the metal. Don't bend it as you ink. The brush is an arm instrument, not a wrist instrument like a pencil. Hold it practically perpendicular to the paper and use smooth motions arm motions.

    Never set your brush down to let ink dry on it for more than a few minutes. Always rinse it out in a jar of cool water. Hot water will weaken the glue that holds the brush hairs. If any ink has reached the metal base of the brush, you need to clean it immediately. DO NOT let ink dry here as it will weaken the glue or cause hairs to go in different directions, instead of coming to a point.

    This aluminum-brush-washer is a good tool to use while you work and for final drying.
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    When you are finished with your brush for the day wash it. After you've washed the brush, twirl the end between your fingertips, in the crease of your hands, tongue or lips to restore the point.

    Old and cheap brushes are still useful for creating textures, patterns and tones.

    Pen Nibs

    There are:
    A. straight nibs, narrow/pointed or broad - that produce thin and thick strokes
    B. medium rounded nibs - not designed to produce line variation
    C. oblique nibs - a nib cut with the edge at an angle, instead of straight across, which changes the orientation of thin and thick strokes

    A narrow nib must use a fluid, fast ink and gives the best performance.
    Broad nibs must use slow inks with higher viscosity.

    Fast ink will leave the nib before or at first contact with the paper. A slow ink will stick to the nib and will not want to leave like a adult living in their parent's basement.

    If your style does not rely on thin and thick strokes, then NEVER touch the nib to the paper. Let your nib hover closely above the paper and let the ink forming on the nib provide the contact.

    TECHNICAL PEN - A pen with a tubular tip and an ink reservoir in a cartridge.

    FOUNTAIN PEN - A pen with a nib and an ink reservoir that supplies ink to the nib as needed. The release of ink is usually controlled by capillary action and an inflow of air so that flow is continuous like that of a fountain

    PEN HOLDER - The body of a dip pen, the part into which the nib is inserted. The barrel and section of a fountain pen.

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    MARKERS - A porous tip of fibrous material. I don't highly recommend this, however I have seen others use them very effectively. My reason not to use them is that markers can smudge and will fade based on exposure to direct sunlight. There are brands that have fade proof ink so look for those to buy. Also look for acid-free brands.

    Brush Markers the usually have a flexible nylon fiber brush tip with which you can achieve fine, medium or bold brush strokes simply by changing the pressure on the point. The tip should spring back to hold its shape. These markers are also good for those who want to ease into using an actual brush.

    Pen Markers usually have a hard nylon tip that allow you to create consistent lines, tight drawings, panel borders and lettering.

    ROLLERBALL PEN - Water-based liquid or gel ink through a ball point writing mechanism. The ink is more easily absorbed by paper than oil-based ink and the pen moves more smoothly across the paper surface.

    Water-based ink is prone to smudging. Liquid ink can bleed into paper. So gel inks are a better choice to use for drawing.

    WHITE PAINT - Use white gouache or tempra paint to correct inking errors or white gesso. You can put these down smoothly to make a good drawing layer.

    Alternatives
    You can use a blade to scrape ink off the paper.

    Redraw the offending section on a separate piece of paper and paste the new section art over the old section of the art.

    RUBBER CEMENT - is an adhesive used for pasting in art or lettering corrections. It is used wet on both surfaces that make contact. Then it is allowed to dry to form a bond. The solvents evaporate and the "rubber" portion remains behind, forming a strong, yet flexible bond.

    There is also one-coat rubber cement which only has to be put on one surface and allowed to dry before pasting to other surface.

    RUBBER CEMENT ERASER/PICK-UP - It is made of natural, crepe rubber. Designed for erasing dried excess rubber cement and cleaning up areas around glued surfaces. Roll gently over dried adhesive until it balls up and then brush away.

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    PAPER - Three-ply bristol board with a kid finish is the best to use. A kid finish has enough tooth (roughness) in the paper for the pencil and is smooth enough to lay down india ink. Plate finish is too smooth for pencil work. A rough paper needs a fast, fluid ink. A smooth plate glossy paper requires a slow ink.

    While three-ply is the best; for economic reasons two-ply is used by most companies. But you can still be economical and use the best paper. Bristol board is available in large sheets. Buy it this way and cut it down to size. The art store may cut the paper to size for you in the store; if you are nice and say pretty please. This is the cheapest way to buy paper and get more bang for your buck.

    Nowadays there are pre-cut, pre-lined prefabricated comic boards for sale. You can still beat these prices and get better quality paper even if you only buy the 14" x 17" pad and cut it down to size. If the art store won't cut it for you, then you can do it at an office supply store.

    Comic books and graphic novels are usually drawn on two-ply bristol board. A rough finish may make some pen nibs catch on the tooth if you apply pressure. Ink takes longer to dry on the smooth plate finish, so be careful not to touch it.

    There is a difference between different brands of paper. Cheaper brands are less reliable.

    PAPER SIZE

    Comic book art pages used to be twice the size of the finished product. Now both have shrunk in size due to rising paper and oil costs.

    Now the live art area is 10"x 15". The paper size of 11" x 17". You can draw any size as long as it's in the correct proportions to the comic book. Graphic novels give you more freedom to draw at any size and print at any size. I know an artist who draws on a paper size that fits his scanner.

    Comic strip live art area is 13.25" x 4.25". Optional sizes: 7"x2.25", 10"x3.25", 12.25"x4", 14"x4.5", and so on). The same rule apples concerning the correct proportions. A half-inch border on every side is good to have.

    Single panel comic strips live area is 3.5" x 4" high. You can use any size if you keep the proportions correct.

    VELLUM - A translucent material not related to the bristol board finish. Vellum paper is like tracing paper but is smooth, durable, better quality and costs more. This is great for artists who erase a lot and wear the paper surface away.

    You can ink on this very well. Vellum is more delicate than bristol board, so tearing it is a major concern. Mount the vellum on a piece of white board when you are done.

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    SCRAP PAPER - This can be cheap paper or if you have cut your bristol board, then the excess that is left over can be used. Scrap paper will be good for doing thumbnails, notes and for inking. You can use the scrap to always get rid of excess ink or to twirl your brush to a point to get started if needed. Also you can try out strokes before doing it on the final art. If you haven't yet mastered not putting your hand on the paper while you draw, then you can put scrap paper underneath your palm to prevent oil from your hand getting onto your drawing surface.

    ARTIST WHITE TAPE - A white tape that is acid-free and you are able to reposition it. Look for a good quality tape that is ink and pencil receptive and removable from most surfaces. It won't damage your paper upon removal.

    DRAWING BOARD/LAP BOARD - A portable wooden board or flat surface set at an angle in your lap against a table. Also known as portable drafting tables or portable drawing boards.

    PARALLEL STRAIGHTEDGE BOARD - A compact, portable unit set at an angle in your lap against a table. No t-square needed as the portable drafting board has the parallel straightedge attached for drawing straight lines. The pulley system moves the straightedge easily and precisely up and down over the drawing paper.

    PARALLEL STRAIGHTEDGE - A straightedge that replaces the t-square when attached to the drafting table or drawing board.

    DRAFTING TABLE - An adjustable drawing table.

    It's not a good idea to draw by laying the drawing board flat an a kitchen table or having your drafting table flat. The drawing may be distorted because you're viewing it from an angle if you sit up straight. You want to angle the board (30 to 40 degrees) so it's almost parallel to your face. This is better to see what you're drawing and for your back.

    The higher the angle, the more fluid the ink has to be, to flow properly.
    The lower the angle, the slower the ink has to be, in order not to flow too fast.

    Joining you in the ABCs of faith: Action, Belief and Confidence
    My web comics
    Just Create - my blog about how to create comic books
    YouTube Tutorials and stuff

    Howard
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