How to Use Dry Brush

I’ve taught you how to ink comics. I’ve told you how to ink with a brush. You think you know all there is to know about inking comics…WELL, YOU’D BETTER THINK AGAIN!

I’m going to talk to you today about a little-known technique. Basically, this post will be about how to use dry brush. Anyone who is familiar with painting will already know what dry brush is. Dry brush is a technique where you led the ink dry out on your brush a little, so that it will skip over the paper. This in turn will lead to a neat effect that can resemble charcoal.

This is more of an advanced technique, so you may want to get some practice in before trying it. Go back and re-read my blog post on how to ink with a brush for the basics on brush inking. Once you review that, continue on.

When it comes to learning how to use dry brush, it’s only fair to warn you that the technique is VERY tough on your brushes. Constant use of expensive sable brushes when using dry brush can destroy them. Therefore, I recommend using a cheap brush and/or an old brush like I do. I have a cheap, worn out round number 5 synthetic I use for not only masking in big, black areas, but also for dry brush in my own work (more on that in a second).

Dip your brush in black ink that’s not too thin and wipe a lot of the ink on a paper towel, a rag, or scrap paper. Once you get most of the ink off, practice making strokes with your brush. You should get a scratchy, rough, and spotty line.

It’s hard to describe in person here how to use dry brush. Since the technique is similar to painting, try a few web searches through Google and Bing for dry brush. Better yet, a more in-depth tutorial can be found in the excellent book that I reviewed a few weeks ago Drawing Words and Writing Pictures.

More examples of dry brush can be found in the works of Frank Miller. He makes use of it in his famed work The Dark Knight Returns and even more liberal use of it in his 2011 work Holy Terror.

Episode 3 dry brush sample

In my own work, I’ve used dry brush here and there. This panel is from episode 3 “the Train Robbers” (still for sale at Indy Planet). The stain on the sheet there that Mrs. Loutron is holding was done with dry brush.

episode 5 dry brush sample

This is from the fifth episode of Sunnyville “Dance Hall Days” (also available from Indy Planet) The worn patches on the local print shop were done with dry brush too.

All in all, it can be a handy technique but one that can take some getting used to. And that is how to use dry brush.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog via email or RSS feed. Do you have questions or comments? Feel free to post them here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
This entry was posted in Episode 3, Episode 5, tools, Tutorials and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.