Acrylic ink on board is probably my favorite medium for illustrations. Second would be copics and microns on comic paper or bristol (which I think has already been discussed to death). Board has a really wonderful, almost tactile quality to it that I think provides more feed back to me as the illustrator than canvas or paper does, and so I try to use it when ever I can afford to. It's light, solid, presents well and stores easily. The wood absorbs and holds moisture really well, making it really forgiving when working with inks. Alternatively, acrylic paints on board makes for really nice, vivid illustrations as well. Ever since I started working with acrylic ink/paint on board, it's been really difficult for me to return to copics and bristol/comic paper again... It just lends itself so nicely, I find :'D
Funny...when I read "traditional" illustration- my mind immediately leaped to the "Golden Age Illustrators". No felt tips back then. Mostly they used watercolor & ink (Rackham, Bauer, Dulac, Nielsen) or they used oils (Wyeth, Parrish, Pyle). Or just plain old fashioned ink.
I used to love felt tips. I stay away from them now- mostly the result of an education I got at a gallery. They are fine for renderings, & for illustration whose purpose is to be reproduced. Unfortunately, felt-tips aren't light-fast. Nothing dye or alcohol based is. Expose them to any prolonged UV & in 6 months those brilliant colors will be ghosts of themselves. Sprays & UV retardant glass help, but like their labels say-retards, as in slows down, not prevents.
I use microns these days. My greatest fear is their light-fast claim is bullshit. But, I'm also lazy. I like the predictability of a micron line & nib vs a dip pen. I've never known a micron nib to catch a fiber or an incised line in the paper & spray ink.
I'm a self-taught artists, so I say traditional meaning anything 'not digital'. My portfolio is never exposed to UV, so I don't have to test light-fastness, and I show and sell prints in the galleries, so my work remains archived and safe. I prefer the precision and predictability of microns too. They don't leak, clog, bleed, etc.
Gosh, I miss doing large canvases outside on the patio in the summer.
For inking: sakura micron .001 for small stuff, sharpies for large stuff or anything waterproof. I used to use a fountain pen with green or purple or brown ink but.. there weren't waterproof inks available for that lovely pen. Otherwise, the Deleter brand pen holder with G-pen nibs is a favorite for easy line width variation. There's a few diffrent black cat inks available with the g-pen.
For Colors: Well, I do have a decent selection of Copics recently, although I tend to only use these doing on-the-spot commissions at conventions since it's tidy and portable and LAST. The orignal set of copics I have is 7 years old and still in perfect condition. They don't dry out lol.
Otherwise, I have loads of experience with watercolors, water color pencils, gouche buuuuut my favorite medium for paints is probably acrylic. Sometimes I'll use it in its normal form, but I discovered mixing it with some water gives it the consistency of watercolor, but more pigmentation which was a joy to work with.
I wish I could think of the brands off the top of my head, but it's been a long time since I've regularly used traditional. Most clients these days demand digital x.x. I miss the textures of traditional and how easy it is to do gradation and blending.
I used to work with the Sakura Microns on Bristol board. I haven't really messed too much with any other brands, mostly due to cost and availability, but they did the job pretty well. I agree that they give nice clean lines, and I loved the tiny .20mm for detail work. But I stopped working with them and went back to wet ink because I was never able to get the quality of line I wanted and couldn't get a nice black. Took a bit of editing in Photoshop to get things right.
So currently my pen & ink work is done with Higgins Indie ink and Hunt nibs on smooth Bristol board or hot press illustration board. Bamboo brush to fill in flat areas of black. Not sure I like the coverage of the Higgins for this purpose, so I'll be looking into other inks once this big bottle runs out. I might also look into some other brands of nibs. I like the tiny crow quills mostly, though the larger drawing nibs are nice for thicker lines. I guess a brush pen would be more convenient, less mess, but I love the way wet ink looks.
I've been doing more pencil work and developing stronger preferences in the process, mostly based on the hodge-podge collection I've built over the years. The Faber-Castells I think are my favorite; the quality of the lead is good and smooth. I use a Koh-I-Noor mechanical, but have used various H/HB leads. I use the Mars plastic erasers. I like working with pencils on good quality rag papers, like Rives BFK.
I've started doing comic art recently, and have narrowed down my materials to the following:
- Rotring Tikki 0.5mm mech pencil with Pentel non-photo blue leads. More convenient than a regular pencil, and at the time I switched to blue leads was unable to obtain non-photo blue regular pencils.
- Rotring ArtPen; a fountain pen [apparently] designed specifically for drawing. Pretty utilitarian design (all plastic bar the nib) but well-made and nice to use. I got it after learning it's the preferred tool of several comic artists I admire, and haven't regretted it in the slightest.
- Pentel Pocket Brush; I've very little prior experience with brush pens, but this one was meant to have a very heard-wearing and good quality nib. The ink is a little pale, but scans pure black.
- Sharpie chisel-tip permanent markers; for filling in large black areas they're much faster and more convenient than a brush.
When it comes to paper, I use whatever decent quality drawing paper is to hand, but plan on investing in some Blue Line boards when I can afford it. In general I'm not too fussy about brands, but always prefer artist-quality.
They don't have refills, they're dsposables. I'm a perfectionist, so I don't care how econnomical it is.. I suppose I should. For me, it's more about my obsession and passion for the work itself. With that said, I am a gallery artist, and I need to start making enough money or start being frugal enough to quit my day job! LOL
Copic markers blend wonderfully. I prefer them over Faber Castell pens or anything really water-based because after a while it starts to wear down on the paper, whereas an alcohol based ink simply absorbs into it. Overall I think I'll always be a huge Copic advocate, specifically for the Sketch variety of markers. The only caveat is the longevity of the ink but they sell refills at the same price as a regular marker. The Copic multiliner pens are lovely and I just bought myself a new set recently. Not only are they compatible with Copic pens but they're also water resistant and all that other good stuff. I love Micron pens as well but I've experienced a lot more smudging and whatnot by comparison (and I've had some bleeding with water-based materials before) so the multiliners are my new favorite.
Smooth bristol of the Strathmore variety is my favorite. Thicker Canson papers and illustration board are also a nice choice as I use mostly markers, colored pencils, pen and ink, and occasionally watercolor and gouache.
I've heard that you can refill the barrel of a Copic marker using rubbing alcohol. As far as I know, you can remove the nib, pour some rubbing alcohol in the barrel and put it back on after you're done.
I probably wouldn't chance that since the alcohol solution might be quite different and if anything the remaining pigment could just be more diluted. I think the refills should last quite a while, but I haven't used them yet so I can't say from experience. ><
Thanks! I'm gonna give Copic a shot. Do the multiliners go as fine as the 005 Microns? They look like great pens, but I need a really fine line for detailing. They're expensive, but they're definitely worth a shot if they go as fine.
Oh, also for paints: Winsor Newton Winton brand for oils, Golden brand for acrylics... and I haven't tried too many brands of watercolor or gouache so Reeves is the best for me right now. Good consistency and lightfastness for a reasonable price. There's also another brand of watercolor I can't quite put my finger on that works nicely as well... it has a white box with rainbow/gold outlined text on it?
Both brands of felt-tip pens you mentioned throw me into rages because they dry out too darn fast. I can't be going through 3 and 4 pens a drawing! I use dip pens for mainly this reason. More ink for less money. I keep the felt tips around just to touch things up here and there.
I've used Strathmore 400 series Bristol paper, I do like it. I also love Deleter manga paper.
I am not picky about pencils, but I'll admit a love for my TUL mechanical pencil. Probably almost worth what I paid for it.
It's true, they don't last long, but the run-down ones are great for really fine detail.. I'm obsessed with perfect, clean lines, so cost means little to me. I spend a lot on pens, but I'm pleased with the results.
I'm one of those people who can't stick to a medium because everything is just so intresting (Also I'm a bit of an art supply addict) I paint with acylic paint and watercolours: for acrylic I use rather cheap brushes because even if you clean them very well they don't have a very long life, for watercolours I'm using da vinci brushes which are also cheap (mostly because I haven't been using water colour for very long). I like to paint on cardboard and newspaper with acrylics, for watercolour I use to different kind of watercolour papers. One of my absolut favourite things ever is my pentel brush pen, it's not all that easy to control but I have a lot of fun working with it. For sketching I use either pilot ballpoint pens, my brush pen, a F Lyra pencil or a blue Derwent colour pencil. (See I can't even stick to one thing for sketching) Also whatever paper I get my hands on. Also waxpastells are pretty awesome... And ink.
As far as paper goes I'm not too fussy as long as it's a decent thickness and relatively smooth. I'm mainly using Seawhite sketchbooks at the moment. Hot press paper is nice to work on too.
Pencils: Faber-Castell 9000 B grades are my favourite graphite pencils, just the right amount of smoothness for me. I use a Rotring 300 2mm clutch pencil for sketching out preliminary lines and a Pentel Graphlet 0.3mm for finer details. I love the Graphlet, just the right weight and line width for me.
Pens: For inking Rotring ArtPens, Rotring Xonox/Tikky Graphic, Copic Multiliner SP, Uni-Ball Eye, Pilot DR, Pilot G-Tec, and a Pentel Brush Pen. I love pens, different pens react differently on different paper hence the need for a variety. For colouring I use Faber-Castell PITT Big Brush pens and Zig Real Brush as alcohol-based markers give me headaches.
I only draw.Ive tried a few of different kinds of paper but I keep going back to Arches hotpress though I'd like to find something just a little smoother.For pencils I use Staedtler and Derwent,I like Steadtler B's and Derwent H's,these are wood cased pencils.For erasers I have my Blu Tack,my pink Pearl a gum eraser and a vinyl.
As far as pens go, I pretty much swear by Rotring technical pens. Fibre tips are great for sketching, but they just don't seem to give the same line quality as technical pens when doing very precise work. I use Winsor and Newton gouache for painting and I usually paint over an inked line drawing on watercolour paper block format. Paper brand doesn't concern me much as long as it's good quality and hot pressed.
Gouache is excellent for highly detailed work. You can pretty much paint hair lines with a good enough sable brush.
I think actually the most traditional isn't markers, but like paints and stuff. Gouche especially has roots in illustration, because of its nice bright colors, since essentially its a pure pigment medium. Even though Im taking acrylic painting classes and done acrylics for a while, I actually now find my self liking gouache since you can get an even image and not too much texture. And since its flat, you can ink with it too. Ive also learn that Gouche goes well with pastels, and even pastels can be watered down like a medium.
So here are my specs.
Winsor & Newton Goauche Red, Yellow, Purple, Green, Blue, White. Flat, Angular, and Round Brushes made for Watercolor. Stratmore smooth Bristol Board Windpowered Paper towel Soap Water Cup
Prismacolor Pastel (and yes Ive heard about the other pastels which are supposedly better) Stratmore Pastel Paper Toned Kneeded Eraser Smaller white eraser White Eraser
For drawing tools, I like pen, or the pastel being use to layout my basics skeleton. And yes, sometimes I have use the pastel paper to paint with gouche. Yes it wrinkle's like crazy, so Im just twice more patient with it. Its mainly so I can use it with pastel. Here is a piece of a photo reference I did pastel with Gouche:
And a nice thing that I like to do, is have a ton of utramarine blue and brown together. They create a nice black but with a bluish shade. Its not easy to see in a picture but you probably get the idea:
You can easily buy them at blick, but if you just search winsor and newton gouche, you can find them alot of places. Even amazon has some.
From my teacher's experience, its alot better to get the winsor and newton, because the cheaper brands tend to be watery or chalky and not as fluid as winsor and newton. She says you can paint really big or really small. Gouche is really good for small pieces because you can get alot of details fast.
And also a nice feature for gouache is that the paints are relivable. If you add some water to dry paint, you can use it again.
The only thing I find with rewetting old blobs of gouache paint is that, depending on the pigment, it will come out much more like traditional watercolour as you have to add lots of water to get it active again. It's okay if you're working with certain techniques, but if you're laying flat and opaque patches of colour it's going to cause difficulty.
Agree with the quality of Winsor and Newton gouache. It's very satisfactory and most of the colours have a good light-fastness as well. I believe a lot of brands that sell gouache tend to make it opaque by adding chalk, where as they make it opaque by big pigment and lots of it.
Gouche is a kind of watercolor. It is more opaque than usual watercolors and in fact was used a lot for color illustrations in the past for its brilliance. I used to have a Pelikan Gouche set. You can probably still find them in better art supplies. One I used in the past is Dick Blick. [link]
Thanks for sharing your paper preferences -- I've been looking for alternatives to my Canson comic boards. I usually ink with a dip-pen and I tend to get a little bit of paper in my nibs with that brand, making my lines thicker than intended. I hate buying brands blind, because it's just a waste of money if you can't see what you're getting, so recommendations help. Have you ever used that paper with nibs by the way?
I primarily use Prismacolor markers and pencils for coloring. I used to use Copics but stopped because of the cost. However, if you want a breakdown:
-Copics cost 3x more than Prismacolors. They have two or three times as many colors, too.
-The color on a Prismacolor flows out much heavier and faster. It's nearly impossible to get a fine line out of a Prismacolor marker, and I suggest coloring a millimeter or two within your lines without touching them -- the color will seep out to the line and you won't get a runover.
-However, Prismacolor ink flows out constant for each marker. Darker Copics can flow harder, and I've ruined work with a Copic marker because I'd use the markers for an hour or two, pull out one marker of the 40 I had that flows differently and a big blot of color would come out when I wanted a fine line. Running these markers over paper a couple of times will temporarily remedy the problem and make fine lines possible, but if you forget which ones do this, you'll be cursing.
-The control you get out of a Copic is undisputed. You can get fine lines. It doesn't run on thicker paper -- but you may have to go over areas multiple times to get as much color or the lines as smooth as you like.
-Copics blend wonderfully. You can completely mimic the look of a watercolor painting if you work fast and practice hard enough. The "colorless blender" does just that, blends and makes perfect gradients.
-Prismacolors don't blend. If you lay a dark color on a light color quickly, you can get a blending effect. But laying a light color on a dark color "replaces" the color. You can get some pretty ugly smudging, but you can also use if for special effects. But it's really like brushing on an oil painting with straight turpentine -- something unpredictable will happen, and it ain't blending. On this piece, I used the "colorless blender" on the slime covering the girl's arm, the bubble, and to create the stains on the already-colored walls:
-You have to work fast with both of them, or you'll get smears. You have to use thick paper with both, or you'll get smears.
-People will say buying refills for Copics evens out the price -- but the price for a refill pack, which can refill a marker 3 or 4 times, is about the price of a marker, and then you need double the storage space, as well as buying replacement nibs and syringes. I did refill my colorless blender a number of times, though, and I recommend buying the syringe and a colorless blender replacement bottle right away with any Copic purchase.
When I color, it's mainly very bright, graphic, comic book style work, so I go with Prismacolors, which I have every color of. If I want a softer look, I use watercolors, because they are much, much cheaper than Copics. I'd rather spend less money and work harder to master the harder art form, personally. But that's me.
Thanks for the detailed breakdown on the copics. I think I actually want to give them a try now. I'll only be using a few shades of grey, so the cost probably won't deter me.
The Strathmore 400 series 3 ply smooth holds up well to metal nibs, but if you like to saturate your weighty lines like I do, you may feather the paper on occasion in some spots. This is why I've switched to felt tips, I despise damaging the surface of the paper even just a little bit. I may be a little heavy-handed too. I used to draw very hard in HB to get the blackest pencil lines I could (I never use an eraser except to clean accidental smudging), and the pressure may have translated a little to ink drawing even though it isn't necessary. Old habits die hard. I strongly suggest trying this paper. it's expensive, but it's near perfect, and I demand a lot from my materials.
Just soap and water is the best thing. Simple neutral PH non-perfumed soap for sensitive skin if possible and cold water. Hot water can make the ferrule expand and cause you to lose bristles. After you have washed it you can lick your fingers and shape it back into a point.
I find it hard to get inks completely out of brushes so I use my older watercolour brushes and then keep them just for inks. You probably could scrub them clean if you tried hard enough - but I buy nice brushes and my main concern is keeping them in good shape. You can soon tell the difference if you don't.
I use dip pens with my inks. But I seem to be happier having a wide variety of cheaper nibs to use rather than thinking about quality pens!