Even in this digital age, I draw and letter all my comics by hand. Today, I wish to let you in on one of the tools I use for inking.
Before I begin, it’s important to emphasize that no matter what you ultimately use, there are two tools that you CANNOT do without. The first and most important tool that you have…is your mind. The second most important tool is your hand. Train these and there’s nothing that you can’t do.
That said, allow me to introduce to you the technical drawing pen. Commonly used by engineers and architects, they give a very flat and consistent line. I use the Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph pen, though there are other types available out there such as Rotring, Staedtler Mars, Copic, etc. You can’t get a variety of lines with technical pens like with dipping pens and brushes – but it’s a great tool to use. The pens come in different widths, such as .25mm, .45mm, .80mm, etc. I make use of the following:
– a .35mm Rapidograph for really thin lines (such as backgrounds)
– a .50mm Rapidograph which is the workhorse of my pen set
– a 1.00mm which I use for inking panel borders
-last but not least, a 2.00mm for really thick, fat lines or big dots
I reiterate, you can’t get variety within the line you draw with a tech pen. It’ll give one consistent line. If you want a varied line (such as going from thin to thick in the same stroke), you’ll need a dipping pen (next week’s topic) or a brush (sometime in the future). Some more downsides to the tech pen are the expenses involved. These pens can be pricey – US$7 to $25 a piece. Start with one and buy one or two extra as you go along. If you’re committed to using tech pens, it may be even better to purchase a set of them as you can save money.
Another downside to tech pens is that they are a hassle to clean. You’ll usually have to disassemble the pen (like below) and flush it out with water and/or cleaning solution. Your pen should usually have instructions included on how to clean it so follow those to the letter.
Lastly, take a look at some of my Sunnyville pages. These are various pages from Sunnyville Stories episode 1, Beginnings, and use of the tech pen is present in them. The first page makes uses of tech pen in conjunction with brush and dip pens. The same goes for page two and page three.
If you’re interested in seeing work done with a technical pen, check out the work of Joost Swarte. Another cartoonist good with the tech pen is Jason Shiga.
Next week, I’ll discuss another type of pen – the nib or dip pen. Stay tuned, loyal readers!