I just made it through another low productivity period of time this summer. I never like days like that. They might not even be as low productivity as they feel like to me because I do get stuff done but not a whole lot of my time was spent at the drawing board. Also I don’t always count things that I have to get done as doing things I got done. That’s a weird quirk of mind.
One thing that I got done that I don’t always count is my Sunday “Drifting and Dreaming” comic strip. They take a bit of work. Over time I have to draw and color a whole bunch of individual cartoon art cards. Usually I wait until I have enough for about thirty strips. That’s sixty cartoon art card to be drawn, written, lettered, and colored. But since I’ve been doing it for a while, and I expect to do it, it doesn’t always count as an accomplishment in my mind. Plus there is another thirty regular art cards and a Middle Story to be written. That’s a lot of work for me not thinking it is.
I’ve also almost finished up two books I’ve been working on. My “Ghost of Fifth Street” comic and my “Moments Float Back To Me” art book. Each one has gone through about five drafts of the writing. That takes a lot of time but it doesn’t feel like I get a lot of work done. “I got the third draft done but still don’t like it” is not a feeling of satisfaction. I’m still happy I got all the writing done though.
Of course all of that takes away from the time I have to make anything new. A new drawing, a new painting, or some such. I did manage to get some new photos done. I seemed to have a bit of concentration to use on them. There were a few days when I was writing and getting other things done that I tried to draw and couldn’t. So I switched over to working on my street photos. It’s funny how different things take different types of concentration. It takes me hours, at least five of them, to get one of my photos done but I was able to do it by working twenty minutes here and twenty minutes there. But then I stopped getting them done too. Don’t know why.
This week I finally got some drawing done. And how did I do it? By skipping the drawing stage. Well almost. My usual method is to first make same small drawings in my ink book (which I’ve still managed to do this summer), pick a small drawing to work on larger, draw the bigger drawing in pencil, and finally make that drawing in ink. Sometimes the pencil drawing even goes through two steps. First I draw it at about 6×9 inches and then I redraw it at 10×15 inches. That’s a lot of drawing but it really helps me refine the image. Yet I just couldn’t do it this time. It takes a lot of concentration and I didn’t have enough of it. So what did I do? I skipped the pencilling.
After making some videos for my new Art by Osborn YouTube channel about how to choose and use a brush I decided to use one myself. I went right to the inks. I went to my ink-books and found an image I liked. It was only a small thumbnail drawing as they all are in my ink-books but I blew it up to about 6×9 inches and printed it out in blue line on some bristol. This is usually where I’d pull out my pencil but instead I pulled out my brush. I drew in ink with it.
Drawing in ink is a totally different mind set than drawing in pencil. With a pencil you search around for the line. You sketch with your pencil and redraw the same line over and over and over until you suss out the right one. When drawing in ink you have to think about the line before you put it down. You have to be sure where you want it to go. When doing something like my spontaneous ASMR ink drawings I’m making those decisions on the fly as I come up with the image on the spur of the moment but with these ink drawings I have something to work with already. The blue line drawing.
Since I have the blue line drawing on the paper already I have an idea for the image. I know what it’s going to be. Or at least the bones of what it’s going to be. But the bones are important. They make it a different type of drawing than spontaneous ink drawings. I would decide what line were already good in the drawing and then add to them. I did one and liked the way it came out. Lots of bold black brush lines. It was also fun to make. It was satisfying to be able to think about what line I wanted to put down and then doing it.
I ended up making five of them over a week. The imagery came out differently than my usual imagery and I thought that was interesting. The black strokes of ink were also much bolder than I usually make them. That’s probably because I wasn’t following a pencil line. I used pattern a bit too. Overall they came out okay.
The final thing I did this week was to kick the size up a notch. I have a few already finished drawings printed out at 10×15 inches in blue line. They sit in a pile waiting for me to one day ink them. For most of last winter and spring I was doing a lot of inking with a pen and French curves rather than a brush. These pencils were meant to be inked that way buy I’ve been tired of doing that. So I decided to ink one of them entirely with a brush. Almost. I used a circle template a little bit. It was interesting. Once again I enjoyed drawing freely in ink. I had most of the drawing done in pencil with this one but still there was a lot to be decided as things went along. And things did go along. It was nice to get them done.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.
Check them all out here:
What is a comic book inking brush? That is a question that I answered in a video for my art blog but I thought I’d write about it too. In general the brush used to ink comic book drawings is watercolor brush. A sable hair watercolor brush that comes to a point. It’s really important that it comes to a sharp point otherwise you could use any old blunt brush. The most used one by comic book inkers is a Winsor Newton Series 7 watercolor brush. I like a size three but some people prefer the slightly smaller size two. A size three being slightly bigger means I can make bigger lines with it and that it hold more ink in its bristles. That means longer lines with less dipping of the brush in ink. I’ll take that.
The main problem with inking with a sable hair watercolor brush is that India ink isn’t good for them. India ink will slowly break down the hairs of the brush and make them fall out. A watercolor brush that only touches watercolor will last a lifetime but not one dipped in ink. All throughout my twenties I tried my best to keep my ink brushes as clean as possible. I even tried to keep the ink out of the base of the brush hairs and washed it with soap and water after every time I used it. I was vigilant. I really wanted all that cleaning to matter but in the end I don’t think it made the brush any better and sometimes it even seemed to make my brush wear out faster. I finally decided I was better off leaving it alone.
I wish I could find where I read it but once or twice I ran across a story about cartoonists Will Eisner and Joe Kubert discussing how to clean an inking brush. Will Eisner was all for cleaning one but Joe Kubert’s take was the only way to clean a brush was with a pair of scissors. Cut off the bristles. He meant there was no way to clean an ink brush. I’ve come around to that side of the argument. I never clean my ink brushes anymore. I rinse them off in my jar of water when I’m done using them, otherwise they’d harden up and become unusable, but I never take soap and water to a brush anymore. That seems pointless to me now. And my brushes may have lasted longer but I’m not sure of that. It’s hard to tell.
A Winsor Newton Series 7 watercolor brush comes to a nice point. That is what you want in an ink brush. It allows you to make a very sharp and precise ink line. You’ll know the brush is done for when it no longer comes to a point. Instead it will split and you’ll have two points. That is no good for precision. I don’t throw away my wrecked brushes though. Instead I keep them and use them for oil or acrylic paints. Paint is much thicker than ink so I don’t need the brush to come to such a fine point. Plus the really wrecked brushed are good for various dry brush techniques. I make my monster face drawing with a brush so wrecked that it usually has half a dozen points. It makes weird monster lines then.
Since I also use watercolor brushes for watercolor I have to keep track of which brushes are for ink and which are not. I figured out an easy method years ago. I carve a narrow ring around the brush just below the ferrule (the metal part of the brush that holds the wooden handle to the brush hairs). I take my X-Acto knife and run the edge around the brush handle with just enough force to scrape away the paint in a narrow ring around the brush. One ring means it’s a good ink brush. Once the tip starts to split and the brush is no good anymore I carve a second ring around it. That makes for easy identification. One ring, two rings, or no rings.
For the last couple of years Series 7 brushes have been hard to get. For some convoluted bureaucratic reason the sables that are uses to make sable hair brushes found their way onto some sort of endangered species list in the USA and therefor their importation was banned. Except it’s a different sable that’s endangered. It’s all so confusing that I’m still not sure if there is a ban on the brushes or not. But art stores ran out of Series 7 brushes a while a go and just got some new ones in recently. The price has gone up on them too. I used to get a number three brush for around twenty dollars but now they are ten dollars more than that.
I’ve tried a few different brands of sable brushes over the years. The second best is Raphael brand brushes. I’d say they were slightly below the Winsor Newton ones but if I could get them for a good price I always did. I never had any complaints about the Raphael brushes. They’re also the same size as the Winsor Newton ones. That’s one of the problems I’ve had with ordering brushes from a catalog. Sometimes one company’s size three isn’t the same as another company’s size three.
I recently bought a size three from a company called DaVinci and it was more like a size two. That means the brush will hold less ink and make a slightly narrower line. Plus I found the DaVinci brushes has less spring-back than I was used to. That means as I put pressure on a brush against the paper as I release the pressure the brush should resume its original shape. Instead it just stayed bent over a little as if I was still pressing on it. That’s not the end of the world since it still holds its point but I have to be careful which way I touch the brush to paper the second time. Things can go sideways.
I love a good brush. When it comes to comics some people like to ink with pens but not me. I’m a brush person. Hopefully they’ll keep making them.
I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got five new comics.
Check them all out here:
If this isn’t your first time reading my blog then you’ve probably seen my Saturday posts about what comics I bought in any given week. Those and the videos that go along with it. For years I just wrote what comics I bought but then in 2014 I discovered YouTube comic book haul videos and decided to make my own. Those are videos where people show off each comic that they get that week. So now I have a written list that I can easily reference and a video where I get to talk and interact with other YouTubers. It’s fun stuff. I also show off some of my artwork after I show the comics.
That lead me to start a new channel this week. An “Art by Osborn” channel. On that one I plan to post some art “How To” videos, show off some my art, and maybe figure out some creative ways to present art in general. It’s all just beginning so I’m not sure how it’ll go.
In making the initial videos I’ve already been discovering how difficult it is to make “How To” videos. First off the technical aspects are tough. I had to buy a horizontal tripod extender to get things started. That’s basically a monopod that attaches horizontally onto a tripod so you can aim the camera straight down. I already had a monopod and tried to figure out a way to modify it for horizontal use but that prover to be futile. I ended up spending nearly a hundred dollars on a horizontal extender. I’m kinda broke but I needed the piece of equipment. It’s been on my wish list for a year now and I finally bought it. I must say it works well so far.
The first video I made for the channel was fairly easy to do. It wasn’t so far removed from my usual videos. It was an art supply tip showing how a person can refill a thin black marker. All I had to do was point the camera at my desk and show my hands holding my markers and refilling them as I said the instructions. Piece of cake. If I do more video like that one they’ll be the easy ones.
The really tough task is shooting myself as I draw. Even with the extender it’s a little cramped but without it it’s nearly impossible. Plus I have to make sure the paper is always in frame. Being that I move the paper around as I draw I was having a hard time with that. The first video I made I had only half the paper in frame for the first few minutes. I caught on after a while and began to learn to check the camera’s viewfinder often.
The first video I made with the extender was about ten minutes long. My ASMR drawing videos are about fifteen minutes long but they are easier to make because I’m not talking. With this how-to video I’m talking as I’m drawing and that turned out not to be so easy. Plus I think it was a little boring. I just don’t think I had enough interesting things to say.
In that first drawing video I took out a five by seven inch piece of paper and drew a head and face on it. I used two different pencils. A Generals Sketch pencil and a basic 4B pencil. I think I did okay with the drawing but the whole thing seemed a little uninspired. I don’t know what it was. When I looked back at the video it was okay but a little off. I decided to go at it again.
For the second drawing I decided to strip things down. I wanted to make a video all about just the very basic proportions of the face. In the first video I made an actual face but in this one I was just going to have basic markers of a face. I went smaller with the drawing too. I used one of my baseball card size pieces of paper and only my 4B pencil. This second time through was a lot smoother and snappier. It wasn’t anything new or revelatory. It was the most basic information on the general proportions if the face that you can find in any drawing book. But it’s where I wanted to start. And I kept it to a tight five minutes.
After making the videos I messed around a little with them in iMovie. Not too much. I added a photo of my artwork at the beginning to use as a title card and one at the end for the same purpose. I didn’t add any music though. I’m not sure if I ever will. I’ve seen a lot of videos with cheesy background music and those aren’t the type of videos I want to emulate. I stayed away from music and sound effects in my title cards too because that’s another thing that often annoys me. People put a little intro before their video but the sound isn’t leveled out. The intro is blaring and the video is quiet. I’m trying to avoid that.
I written a lot about my artwork over the last three years in this blog. From my beginnings in school to my various paintings, drawings, comics, photos, and other projects over the years. I’m now going to try and transfer some of that into the realm of video. I’m not sure how that’s going to work but I’ll give it a try. Video is still a fairly new medium for me. I’ve been shooting it for years now but that’s different than making a finished project out of it. It’s the difference between sketching and making a finished painting. It’s a long way to go from one to the other.