Sunday, March 30, 2014

Attempted ink drawing - Lessons learned

Man, this is really hard when you're not copying!! And when you're actually trying to use some kind of sensible inking techniques, which you are completely unfamiliar with (in terms of using them that is).

Lessons learned:

Drawing big is much harder than drawing small. The brush lines were so long I had to lift my wrist off the board, and immediately lost all semblance of control. Like I was drawing in a car going over ruts and potholes. It's also harder drawing bit with a pen. Hard to keep fine control over feathering and hatching etc. 

You really need to design the image thoroughly in pencil before opening the ink. You need to know exactly where the edges of every shaded area is going to be and I think you should probably go ahead and do your shading the same way in pencil as you will in ink. Or at least outline the areas carefully. 

The only time you want the paper taped down is when you're ruling borders. Otherwise I want to be able to move it around, turn it to make it easy to get smooth lines at any angle. 

I put some ink in some kind of little plastic lid I found that's wide and shallow - a little bigger than the lid off a plastic milk carton. And I stuck the lid down with a little bit of kneaded eraser so it stayed put. This made it so much easier to dip the brush effectively - it's impossible to do it in a bottle with a tiny little neck and they're always opaque, so you have no idea how far down the ink level actually is. You end up either getting no ink or going way up the ferule. And that's not good. The lid didn't work for dipping pen nibs though, too shallow. Those seem to work ok in the bottle. 

I used the eyedropper in the lid to transfer ink to the lid and then back into the bottle. It works, but damn, you lose so much ink this way!! Every time you draw. Dollars down the drain. 

My brush is trash now. I learned that when the tip splits into two points the way it did yesterday, it means you let some ink get too high up in the bristles, near or in the ferule, and it dried there. That's a brush killer. Though you can still use it for fill in in big areas of maybe for special effects. 

2 things occur to me that I should start doing - 1, draw in pencil exactly the way I would in ink. Do it a lot. 2, draw in ink - copying the work of masters I want to grow up to be like, and don't pencil first. Don't worry so much about getting everything right - proportioning and precision etc… it's just to get yourself used to the language of inking, the kind of mark making needed. Most of my shading in the above drawing is terrible for various reasons - though toward the end I started doing it better. That's when I switched to the Hunt 102 steel nib (the bronze extra-flexible ones are too damn flexible - can't control them well enough). 

Now I remember how easily plate bristol likes to tear when you peel off tape! 

If you won't be doing any wash, then maybe use non-waterprook drawing ink? Not sure on this one, just a thought. I think the waterproof india ink is what really kills brushes. 

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