This blog used to be littered with unnecessary self-portraits, but it’s been a while. And now that I’ve started to figure out pen nibs, I couldn’t resist scratching out my mangy beard.
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I’m excited–not because I’ve turned another pair of strangers o’ the week into bad caricatures–but because I did it entirely using a crowquill nib dipped in ink. I went a bit overboard on the hatching, but I blame that partly on the fun I was having just continuing to see what kind of marks I could make.
As you may know, I’ve attempted the whole dip pen thing before, with varying levels of frustration, but a few weeks ago I caught an interview with Mort Drucker (of Mad Magazine fame) in which he stated he uses Gillott 1950 nibs. So I impulsively ordered a bunch, while knowing full well that the nib doesn’t make the artist. (And I had already struck out with the Gillott 290.)
But darned if it’s not the first time I’ve actually enjoyed working this way. With this batch of nibs, the ink seems to flow just right. It’s really easy to control the line width, but there’s also a bit of unpredictability that keeps even carefully constructed lines looking loose and sketchy. And maybe I just got lucky, but there was no ink splattered in over an hour of drawing.
Back to real ink today, using a disposable fountain pen and brush pen. Playing around with how to apply Gibsonesque qualities to my usual cartoony style.
One potential labor-saving grace for this comic: fashion back then was really really boring and simple (especially among people like the characters in this story).
Since I’m gearing up to draw a comic book about turn-of-the-century gals, I thought I’d try my hand at drawing a “Gibson Girl.” My poor man’s attempt was exacerbated by my latest attempt at drawing with a dip pen. It’s uniquely frustrating, but seeing as it’s a skill many comic artists swear by to this day, I feel like I should make every effort to get the hang of it.
Another year, another Louis CK performance within walking distance of my apartment, and an excuse to draw him.
This drawing was kind of a botched attempt at using a dip pen and a brush. Actually, the brush part was fun, but I tried to do a little shading with the nib, which dispensed ink OK for about 10 minutes then quit. I’m sure it has something to do with me being an amateur, but I think the nibs might also be funky. I ordered them from England because it seemed like a lot of cartoonists in the 1950s used this particular nib (Gillott 290), but 60 years later, it’s probably one of those products that’s the same in name only.
I went back and did my shading with the dry brush instead.
Anyway, it’s supposed to be Johnny Carson, circa the late 60s, when he still had a lot of black in his hair. There’s a new special about him running on PBS right now.
All the lines are real ink; the gray tone is digital, and I also used Photoshop to clean up some ink splatters!
Back when I was a kid (I really hope this site isn’t starting to sound like granddad’s storytime), every resource on cartooning recommended India Ink and nib pens and brushes. There was no such thing as digital inking, of course. So I was really frustrated that I couldn’t ink to save my life. I don’t know what the heck I was doing wrong, but I remember leaving vaguely inky scratches on the paper. I wasn’t much better with my fancy Rapidograph pen, which quickly became permanently clogged from disuse.
So, ironically, now that I have absolutely no need to ink the old-fashioned way, I’m finding it’s not that hard. Kid me would despise 21st-century me.
I think I picked the wrong paper, though. We have a bleeder!