Archive for July, 2010

some things about nibs

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Oy, summer is busy around these parts. I have some of my doodles colored and some more begun but in the meantime I have a huge pile of work and we are out of town next week and it’s just all kind of crazy.

I did buy a big pile of nibs from John Neal Bookseller – which is super, if very difficult to navigate (I can’t seem to link directly to products, for one thing) – and I have been trying them out. So I thought I would put my thoughts down here. I should note: my choices of what to order are somewhat arbitrary. Some nibs (brands, at least, if not specific nibs) came recommended from more than one source, some were based on the notes at John Neal, and some were whimsy.

The John Neal people are hardcore Lettering Folks, so a lot of their recommendations are based on what’s best for certain kinds of lettering (especially, apparently, Spencerian, which I guess is like the holy grail of hand lettering) which is not at all what I am doing. That said, they sure do know what they’re talking about. They also sell Dappen Dishes, which I still wish were even narrower, but which are a hell of a lot better than the shot glass I was using before getting some. I hate wasting ink.

Brause Rose – The John Neal people seemed to really love this nib. I thought it was okay. Definitely not my favorite, though it does have a fair amount of flex.

Brause 66EF – Also kind of so-so on this one. Holds very little ink (as many of these do.)

Principal EF – Another one they absolutely raved about. More ink than the above, and it’s one I’ll try out again, but not my favorite.

Nikko G – Medium flex and easy to work with. I’ve gone back to this one since my test page.

Gillott 170 – Gillotts are favorites amongst comics inkers. I liked this one quite a lot and it is very flexible.

Gillott 303 – Also quite flexible and smoother than the 170. I liked it better than the 170 in general.

William Mitchell 3.5 Roundhand – Nice if you’re doing Roundhand, not so much if you’re…not.

William Mitchell 4 & 5 Roundhand – a little better (esp. the 5) but still really roundhand nibs.

William Mitchell 6 – Bought this after seeing Laura Barnard’s lovely work, and I do like it. Still a little bit roundhand-y but really not bad at all.

Hunt 512 – Reasonably smooth but fairly stiff.

Hunt 56 – Not very smooth but fairly flexible.

Hunt 99 – Crazy flexible. Almost impossible to handle. It just bends willy-nilly all over the place.

Hunt 108 – Also incredibly flexible. Marginally easier to manage than the 99, but still very difficult.

Hiro – I liked this nib quite a bit. Quite flexible but still smooth on the paper.

So far I have particularly liked the Gillots, especially the 303, the Nikko G, and the Hiro. I will probably experiment more with the Brauses and the Principal, but most of the Hunts were not my thing and the Mitchells seem fantastic for their purpose but other than the 6 not helpful for me personally.


Doodle Swap beginnings

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

I’m doing the Doodle Swap this round and did not realize I had to do TEN doodles (way to go reading things.) Still – very fun. Also very fun to get doodles in the mail (three so far!) So I’ve started doodling, though one of these is for IF and I am not sure if the guy in the lower left is going to survive. With a business trip Sunday through yesterday and lots of work to do, 2.5″ x 3.5″ is about the best I can manage, so hooray for size limits!

Click for quite a lot larger. The pencil is all still there, sorry. It’s several kinds of pens – a nib or two I’m getting used to (mostly the Gillott 303, possibly some of the Nikko G), Pentel Brush Pen, Micron .005 in a couple places and also my Namiki Falcon fountain pen which I wasn’t sure if I would like and wound up using constantly (with a converter so I can use Noodler’s ink)


Illustration Friday: Giant

Monday, July 5th, 2010

This is all-digital, much to the chagrin of my wrist, and many thanks to the amazing stumpy pencil photoshop brush.* But I think I like it all right. Any thoughts would be most welcome.





One of the things I learned about myself during my all-too-brief time with Pikaland’s Bootcamp was this: I will repeat nigh-identical sketches for a subject if I am not entirely confident about what I’m doing, until I either solve the problem, run out of time and do it anyway, or give up. In my mind I think I am solving entirely different, usually extremely minor problems, but in fact I am just redrawing the thing until the light bulb goes off in my brain indicating the thing that is actually wrong. In this case (having doodled a bunch of things first and selected this as the one I liked the most,) the giant’s legs were originally much longer, with his knees tucked up almost to his chin. While that was of course much more physically probable, it worked far less well visually than these stumps my poor giant calls legs. I probably drew it six times with long legs, and then another two or three with short ones.

The funny thing is that I am a very fast learner when it comes to learning information. What is turning out to be true, however, is that I am an inexorably slow developer of images. Even the seemingly simplest of my images winds up taking just ages. Maybe that process will shorten with time and practice. Or not.

* And which I heard about from Jon Davis, who deploys the brush with great flair.


bookplate blanks

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

Since I’d already brought the bookplate into vector for other reasons, I figured I’d post up some blanks in case people want to make their own. You can print them on regular paper and use rubber cement or glue sticks (the latter might get a little lumpy) or you can print them on adhesive paper – either way.

Download Illustrator File 01
Download Illustrator File 02


Illustration Friday: Satellite

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Ok, well, this is one I can’t tell if it’s any good at all. I kind of like the loose crazy style and was shooting for that, but I’m having a hard time deciding if this is a success or just a messy thing. I drew it over a night or two late at night and while I did look at/study a photo or two of Yuri Gagarin I didn’t take any reference to bed with me. And then I wound up kind of liking the errors and left them in. All the black is real pen and I’m kind of annoyed that that’s what wound up looking sort of digital. The color is all digital, though, thanks to Stumpy Pencil and a mighty sore wacom hand.

The inspiration and the words are from one of my favorite PJ Harvey songs – Yuri G. I wound up there after looking at the definition of “satellite” and seeing the moon listed as our main satellite made me think of the song.

As always, click for larger.