Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login


Closed to new replies
November 22, 2012


Replies: 60

Let's talk traditional illustration materials.

Ant1-Her0-Project Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
No disrespect to beginners, though I hope you may find this information useful, I'd like to keep this discussion in the neighborhood of more experienced artists who've spent a lot of time with quality materials.

I'd like to talk about and compare brands and quality. I've experimented with a LOT of different types of papers, pens and pencils, and I'd like to learn about everything I haven't tried, and hopefully shed some light on things you've debated trying.

First, paper:

I have loved Blueline Art Comicbook Art Boards for about 15 years now.. I've tried everything available to me, and the quality of the Strathmore Premiere 400, 3-ply Series is my personal favorite. The product# is: BL 1013 on -If you work heavily in a variety of inks and some pencil, I assure you, this may be the perfect paper for you.

I work primarily in black and grey inks, and HB and F pencils. Over the last year, I've come to prefer felt-tip illustration pens over my old favorites: metal nib drafting pens (MarsMatic 700 and Rapidograph tech pens)

For fine-lines I love Sakura Microns, specifically the .005 size, and then all thicknesses up to the Graphic 1 size. I'm not crazy about their brushpen for saturated black fill-ins though. For the heavy fill-ins, I prefer the Faber-Castell brushpens. I also use their grey sets for my primary grey tones. The Faber-Castell brushpens saturate cleaner. It takes a lot of practice and a carefully trained hand to hide sloppy brushstrokes, and these pens have proven better than the Sakura brushpen that comes in the Manga Set. With that said, the Sakura Microns give me superb, clean lines.

I've started experimenting with Prismacolor art markers for grey tones and some color (I don't use much color though). They will never replace my Faber-Castell brushpens for tones though. The art markers are more for my mixed-media gallery projects. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on these markers, and how they compare to Copic markers? I haven't tried Copic yet, so I'm also curious about Copic's illustration pens and how they compare to Sakura Microns?

As for pencils, their easier and everyone has a different preference, but I'll talk about mine anyway. I like to use 2mm lead holders. My favorite lead holder has been out of production for over a decade, so I won't list it, it'd make you jealous, LOL. Caran D'ache Fixpencils are still in production, and those are really nice! Faber-Castell makes a quality lead holder too. Kooh-I-Noor, Alvin, and Staedtler have dropped in quality in my opinion (though my old, trusted favorite is a Staedtler from the 90's). As for 2mm leads, I like Staedtler and Prismacolor for both HB and F, for non-photo-blue, I prefer the Staedtler.

Hope you guys have some opinions to share, and/or find this info useful!

You can no longer comment on this thread as it was closed due to no activity for a month.

Devious Comments

painted-bees Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
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
Ant1-Her0-Project Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I use acrylic ink too, but on comic paper. I'll have to try board.

Nice gallery, by the way.
painted-bees Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
thanks, boss :> <3
opiumtraum Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
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.
Ant1-Her0-Project Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
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.
opiumtraum Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2012
Yeah...I've been known to hurl the occasional rapidograph across a room...I like the density of ink...but technical pens seem pretty much designed to provoke insanity or a stroke.
Ant1-Her0-Project Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
LOL, agreed.
tiffa Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
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.

Hats off to all the traditional media users!
saintartaud Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Professional General Artist
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.
CrimsonMagpie Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
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.
Add a Comment: