Comic Strip Tutorial

The Best Inking Methods, Tools, Pens, Brushes, and Paper

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So, How Do You Create These Cartoons?

Note: I used this method from 1993 to 1999. Check below for my new method.

First I capture my ideas down in a quick stick figure sketch on typing paper. Speed is the key here as a great idea can quickly fade. I’m concerned with blocking, rhythm, the joke itself, and especially language. A punchline or a headline succeeds or fails on the specific words themselves. Words mean something and they are not interchangeable. So if the comic is based on a clever turn of phrase or has specific language that drives the story I make sure to write it legibly so I can read it later. If I have multiple ideas for the words, I’ll write alternate takes on the margins and decide which version to keep later.

cartoonist sketches Comic Strip Tutorial

If you want to see how they ultimately came out you can go to ‘Cycle of Dependency“, “Politicians Week on Jeopardy“, “Sarge Says Drugs Are Dangerous“, and “Good Ole Farm Fresh Goodness“. They all stayed true to the original sketch but sometimes I’ll change the headlines or drop them entirely as in the case for “Drugs Are Dangerous”.

Once I’ve captured the essence in sketch form, the cartoon is essentially done as far as I’m concerned. Next comes the work – about four hours of penciling, inking, touch-ups, and stripping in the headline and bi-line.

First I grab a sheet of 11″ x 14″ Pentalic Paper for Pens and create a box 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ with a technical pencil (HB lead) and a T-Square. In my opinion, Pentalic Paper for Pens, while still the best inking paper I can find, is not as good as it once was. Back in the 1990′s it was thinner, a brighter white, and pencil didn’t smudge as easily. Unfortunately they’ve since changed their formula several times and I don’t think it’s as good but I have yet to find anything better.

So after I’ve created my 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ box, I make a 1/2″ strip along the top for the headline. Next I divide the remaining space into four equal sections.

cartoonist tools supplies Comic Strip Tutorial

I draw directly with pencil in the first panel and begin blocking out my basic characters, scenery, and dialog. Once it looks right I’ll make a tracing of the first panel on a piece of typing paper using my light table. This will be my template for the other three panels.

Using the light table I then move my template from panel to panel and loosely block in the scene. I know there will be changes in facial expressions and body language later so I focus mainly on proportions and continuity.

If each panel is different,  I skip this step as each panel will be blocked out from scratch. No need for templates and tracing.

Now it’s time for the details. I add the nuances and additional dialog. I leave little to chance, so my pencils are well fleshed out before I start inking. Personally, I want to make very few decisions during the inking process. The time for experimenting is during the sketching process.

example good comic word balloons Comic Strip Tutorial

Dialog is supremely important and the most difficult element to work with. Every additional word takes away from the available space for the drawing. It’s a constant battle, so I never leave an area for a word balloon and then figure out what I’m going to put their later. I need to know exactly what words will be going in each panel, where the line breaks are, and what the size of the letters will be. A bad line break can hamper the readability and even throw off the punchline. Cramped text will turn off your readers and break the flow. Comic strip dialog is much different than spoken words or text in books, for in comics, the words and the balloons that hold them, are also a graphical element that carry just as much importance as the drawings themselves. This is doubly true for sound effects and action lines. Don’t try to toss them in later.

After I’ve finished the words versus drawings battle, and the sketch looks solid, it’s time to start inking. I ink with a Reform Refograph by Alvin (nib size .70 – I know the photo shows a .50 body but the nib is .70) filled with Rapidograph Ultradraw ink. Unfortunately the Reform Refograph is no longer made and they’re very hard to find. I feel the Reform is far superior to the Rapidograph. Large areas are filled in with a cheap watercolor brush. After the ink is dry, I begin clean up with one of those kneaded putty erasers.

Last, I strip in my bi-line that I cut from a master sheet.

After all this I go to the copy store and make a copy at 80% to fit on a sheet of 8 1/2″ x 11″paper that already has my contact info copied on it (I make a big stack of sheets that only have contact info to use as my copy stock). Then I do any additional touch ups (paste up lines, drop outs etc.) before making copies for distribution from this new “master”.

New Method (2000 to Present)

My biggest influences on my inking were illustrators and cartoonists that were using a brush. I didn’t know this at the time, so I attempted to create a “brush look” by using an ink pen. This involved going over an ink line meticulously to create the thicks and thins that naturally occur with a single brushstroke. This was not only tedious but created an enormous load on my tendons.

Later on, I discovered that all these artists I admired used a brush! Wow, that certainly explained a lot. What a much simpler way to create the “brush” effect. The trouble was, I didn’t like brushes, I liked pens and pencils.

cartoonist inking brush pen kuretake Comic Strip Tutorial

I had resigned myself to continued years of finger, hand, and tendon pain until Nina Paley turned me on to the Kuretake Japanese “brush pen”. It has soft nylon bristles and comes with a set of disposable ink cartridges. Don’t use them though. Ditch the cartridges and buy a Lamy refillable cartridge Model Z26 ( I also hear the Platinum Cartridge works great too). I fill it with the same Ultradraw ink that I used in my Reform Refograph. When you attach the Lamy cartridge it will feel like it doesn’t fit. Don’t force it. The neck is very shallow so just use a gentle push and it will be fine. Push too hard and you may crack the lip of the cartridge. Don’t worry, it feels like it will fall off but it won’t.

The Kuretake brush pen changed my life. I can now ink an entire cartoon in a fourth of the time, and without any pain.

Unfortunately, lettering my strip still took a long time and created a lot of hand pain because I was still using an ink pen to do the lettering. I tried the brush pen with it looked terrible. To speed up my lettering I scanned the best examples of my hand lettering and converted them to a font using Macromedia’s Fontographer (now Fontlab). I was now able to type in my lettering in Illustrator (using a template as a guide for placement) print it out, and paste it above the characters. That’s how I do my strip now and I have no intentions of ever going back. If you want, you can download my Sidewalk Bubblegum comic font collection. It’s free.

Cartoonist Nina Paley turned me on to this amazing Japanese “brush pen”. They cost about $35.00 but they’re priceless as far as I’m concerned.

Best Inking Pens Update (November 12th, 2010)

I had a crunch deadline for some poster and storyboard illustrations when my trusty Kuretake pen started crapping out on me. No matter what I did I couldn’t keep a smooth ink flow. The pen was very old and truth be told it’s had a lot of abuse as well as long periods of idle, so I wasn’t shocked.

pentel pocket brush pen 02 Comic Strip Tutorial

So I run to the local art store and start looking for a substitute. I go through a bunch of brush markers and they are just awful. I mean truly awful – as in unusable. Just as I’m about to give up I notice the new Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. It looks like the Kuretake and it’s got a $15.99 price tag, which implies some kind of quality, so I buy it.

I must say I’m very impressed with this pen and the stock cartridges have decent ink in them. So I went back and bought another one. I’m leaving it unopened as an emergency backup.

File Under: Comic Strip Tutorial, Best Inking Methods for Comic Strips, Inking Tools for Comic Books, Pens, Brushes, Paper, Comic Book Lettering

Comic Strip Tutorial, Best Inking Methods, Inking Tools, Pens, Brushes, Paper
PinExt Comic Strip Tutorial

Discussion (69)¬

  1. Dan C says:

    Hello,

    Thanks for the informative article, I found it very interesting. Up until now, I’ve used a sable brush to ink my comics, but I think I’m going to give the Kuretake/refillable cartridge method a try. Just out of curiosity, though, have you ever had any problems with the ink clogging the brush pen? Do you wash the brush very often? Thanks for any info you could pass on.
    Best,
    Dan C

  2. Clay Butler says:

    It will clog eventually if you don’t use it for a long time (couple of months or longer). If it does I take it apart and give it a good cleaning/soaking with hot water. But as long as you are using it regularly you should never have to wash it.

  3. Dan C says:

    Thanks, good to know! After reading your article I decided to buy a Kuretake brush pen & refillable cartridge, and have been really happy with them so far… I use the Kuretake a lot more than my brushes now, so at this rate I doubt the pen will ever clog.

    Thanks again for posting the article, it’s always fun to see how other cartoonists work!

    Best,
    Dan

  4. Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

    You’re welcome. Sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I wasn’t getting my “new comment” notifications. All fixed now.

  5. Terry Hicks says:

    how do i get my pen working it skips a lot maybe dry ink?

  6. Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

    Hello Terry.The first thing I check when I have this problem is my ink level. You just may be out. If the levels are good and you’re not using Ultradraw or another high end non-clogging ink, it may be drying out. If you’ve been using it regularly I’d say those are the two most likely issues. However, if the ink quality and level is good you probably just need to take it apart and soak it in some hot water for a while and clean it.

  7. Dillon says:

    Hello, a little history on the Reform Refograph. Reform was a company in Heidelberg, Germany that made writing instruments, fountain pens, technical pens and such. They belonged to Mutschler who merged with them in the 30′s. They made excellent fountain pen nibs and actually provided nibs and nib assemblies to many large pen manufacturers. (FYI, most fountain pen manufacturers do not make their own nibs). They even made a few lower cost fountain pens in the 70s to Mont Blanc such as the Caressa, Carrerra, and Turbo. They made the Refograph some time in the 70s. I’m not exactly sure when, but I can ask my German friend who lives in Heidelberg. The company went under in 2003. In case you are looking for good technical pens, my personal favorite is the Staedtler Marsmatic 700. I like it somewhat more than the Refograph. The Rotring Isograph and Rapidgraph (incidentally a completely different pen from the Koh-i-noor Rapidograph) are also quite good. The Faber-castell TG-1S is ok, but not as good in my opinion. I never was a fan of the Koh-i-noor Rapidographs though. They are not as high quality and do not seem as precise as my Staedtlers. I’ve also had leaking problems with the Koh-i-noor pens as the air-feed channel is not as carefully designed as the other pens I have mentioned.

  8. K. Nelson says:

    Thanks a lot for the article.

  9. Doug C. says:

    Maybe if you sealed the pen inside a bag, like with a Foodsaver vacuum bag, then it won’t dry out?

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      That would probably work but at that point I’d be more inclined to just empty and clean it.

  10. Harvey says:

    Hi! I’ve been drawing my entire life, but mostly with pencils, and now that I’m thinking of taking illustrating seriously, I’m really interested in using brush pens (artists whose works i’ve always liked seem to always use brush pens as well), but I’m really bad at it. Do you have a tutorial? or a resource I can check out? Thanks!!

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      I don’t know of any tutorials but I’ll explain the theory.

      With pencil it’s all about pressure and angle. You’re constantly increasing and decreasing the pressure to create light and dark and the using angles to create thick and thin lines.

      With a brush it’s all about pressure but you’re intentionally avoiding using angles. Also instead of pressure being used to create light and dark, the pressure is used to create thick and thin. Using angles makes your brush strokes look scratchy as the bristles start to fan out.

      So creating good ink line looks like a surgeon making his first cut. The scalpel is at an mild angle of 0 to 45 degrees but it’s in alignment with the forearm ( tilting front to back, not side to side)

      Use your pinkie finger to support and guild your hand.

      The complete motion used to make a great brush stroke is like a pilot practicing their landings and takeoffs.

      You start your decent a bit before where you want to touch down and start the stroke. Your brush will lightly touch down creating a nice tapered line going from a fine point to a nice broad line as you drag your brush across the paper. The pressure will determine how thick your line is so stop applying additional pressure once you achieve the desired thickness. As you approach the end of the stroke you start to lift off which releases the pressure and decreases the width of the stroke until you completely pull off and end with a nice tapered point that looks very close to the beginning of the stroke but in reverse.

      So think of landing a plane and then taking off again. You’ll want a clean decent, a smooth and controlled touchdown, and then a clean accent. No side to side, and no sudden drops or accents or you’ll crash your plane (ie: make a clunky, expressionless brush stroke)

      Other than that it’s just hours of practice.

  11. D.Corbin says:

    How does the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen compare to the Kuretake? Did you switch over completely? I have a Kuretake that I’ve been practicing with now for a few months. I’m forcing myself to go with the brush even though the learning curve is pretty steep if you’ve only ever used pens. My problem is this: How do you draw small circles (for cartoon googlely eyes)? I keep trying to complete the circle in one stroke but often end up with the line going too thick at the end? Is there a trick to brushing circles? Sorry if I’m not explaining myself properly..

  12. Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

    So far so good. I’m really impressed with the Pentel. I may just continue using both or switch over. Too early to tell. The big advantage to the Pentel is I can buy it at my local art store which is super important if you need an emergency replacement.

    To draw googly eyes you draw the left side of the circle and then draw the right side. Once you get it down it looks really slick like one continuous strike.

    You can also just keep a regular pen around just for making eyes but I suggest learning how to do it with the brush pen so the look stays consistent.

    • D.Corbin says:

      Thanks Clay for your quick response. I just downloaded the pdf for Sidewalk Bubblegum. Excellent stuff! Your work reminds me of some of my hero’s: Shelton and Crumb. As for the googly eyes (sorry I’m a bit slow on the uptake) … do you turn the paper after drawing the first half of the circle or do you just continue from the same position? I did a very bad thing to my Kuretake pen… I tried to cut the very tip of the bristles off as there was this one fibre that seemed too long. Now my brush is ruined. Maybe I can use it for doing just the thicker lines. I will now be looking for that Pentel Brush Pen. Thanks for this great site Clay it’s been a wealth of information for me!!!

      cheers!

      • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

        Ouch. Yes, that is a very bad thing. I think we’ve all thought we could “fix” a brush at one point or another and ended up ruining it. So you’re in good company on that one. As for the googly eyes I just continue with the same paper orientation. if you want to flip the paper that’s fine. Whatever works. Look at the middle age man with the googly eyes on the Kuretake brush image above. That was two strokes. Left side, then right side. I botched his left eye (overshot the line) but his right looks perfect.

        • frazier says:

          I just purchased a pentel pocket brush today. There is one fiber that is longer than the rest. This is normal? It’s like a hair sticking out. I can see how it might work to create really thin lines… but it’s also annoying me.

          • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

            Sounds like a defect. The hairs should tapper to point. There should be one that sticks out much farther than the rest.

        • Frazier says:

          “Sounds like a defect. The hairs should tapper to point. There should be one that sticks out much farther than the rest.”

          Sorry, could you please clarify – do you mean there should be, or shouldn’t be, one hair that sticks out farther than the rest?

          Thanks!

          • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

            Sorry, I mean “should not” be a single hair taller than the rest.

  13. veshtericata says:

    I was experiencing the same problem with brushes and after reading your Blog I ordered a Pentel Pocket Brush from Ebay.It arrived today and I am really impressed with the results. Thanks a lot

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      You’re welcome. It’s clear they were aiming for the upscale Japanese brush pen market and I think they succeeded. Price is right too.

  14. veshtericata says:

    Clay Do you think that this Pentel one might work as well?

    http://www.stationeryart.com/pentel-pentel-japan-aquash-waterbrush-water-brush-fmbmm-p-785.html

    It doesn’t uses cartridges- you need to pour ink inside.

    I have one at home- the brush end looks good (Similar to the Pentel brush you recomended ) and makes great lines but the ink that I am using is not very good.

    Do you know any good pourable inks that I can use

  15. Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

    That is one crazy looking pen.

    Buy a bottle of Rapidograph UltraDraw. It’s killer ink that’s specifically designed to reduce clogging. Been using it for over 20 years.
    http://www.dickblick.com/products/koh-i-noor-rapidograph-ultradraw-waterproof-ink/

  16. veshtericata says:

    I managed to find a decent ink among my art tools- Hoh-I-nor Drawing ink – its probably similar to the one you are using.I did a test with ‘the crazy looking pen’ and the strokes were with the same quality of the pentel brush pen. It really works but the only down side is that the design of the aqua pentel brush is a bit unstable- its made of flexible plastic. I accidentally unscrewed the ink attachment and ink started splashing onto my fingers. I think if I put gafa tape around it I can prevent this ;-)

  17. veshtericata says:

    One more thing I think Aquash brush releases a bit more ink than the pocket brush

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      That makes sens as it forces you to hold ink chamber which is flexible plastic. It should come with a solid plastic holder.

  18. veshtericata says:

    Hi again ,

    sorry to bother you but i hoped you can help me again with an issue
    Since I am new to inking I experienced problem with using the wrong type of paper. I use Goldline Markerpad layout paper for my designs because I don’t have a light box and I do my tracing with a layout pad.

    The problem with this paper is that is very smooth to an extend that it doesn’t allow the ink to sink inside the paper and it takes ages to dry.

    What happens is that I smudge it along the way and makes the whole process very messy.

    So my question is , what is the best paper you need to use for inking?

    Do I need a light box or can you use tracing / layout paper?

    Sorry once again to bother but your knowledge can make the world a better place ;-)

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      Pentallic parer for pens is fine inking paper. You won’t have any of the problems you’re mentioning with it. I talk about it above. These days though I’m doing pencil storyboards and a lot of inking on Staples brand 50% recycled multi-use paper because everything I do just gets scanned anyway. So I don’t even bother making my inks perfect like I did back in the day. If I botch a hand I just draw another one next to it and use that one instead.

      As for the light table, I just consider that a basic. Every artist should have a drafting board and a light table.

    • Sarah says:

      For tracing if you don’t have a light box– you can use a window during the day (as long as it’s bright enough outdoors). If you have a side table, dining room table, or desk that has glass on top of it, you can stick a lamp underneath facing upwards and then put your paper over that and trace. Hope that helps!

      • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

        True and I’ve used them both many years ago. But light tables are so cheap that there’s really no excuse for a serious artist not to have one. I used to trace on a window when I was just starting out but that quickly gets old and the shoulder burn is intense and your fingers start to go numb as well. Not to mention that you need to make sure there is no moisture or oily finger prints on the window.

  19. Jodi says:

    Great info. Thanks so much for sharing it! Any advice on how to color in? I’m new, and go back and forth between using Illustrator, which is labor-intensive but with great, solid color, or markers, which really don’t do a good job. I’m very new, but have already landed a spot for my strip in a state-wide newspaper, and need to get my coloring down. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      Coloring with Photoshop is fine. Just use the paint bucket tool. However, if you bring your scanned images into Illustrator and then trace them with a really tight setting (Object>Live Trace>Tracing Settings), they will look almost identical to the masters but have the distinct advantage of being vector. After you trace the images, you then use the live paint tool (Object>Live Paint>Make to drop in the color just like Photoshop. But since it’s vector, the files are super small, infinitely scalable and never degrade with editing.

  20. Jodi says:

    Oops — I meant Photoshop.

  21. Ø.o says:

    I know this comment isn’t the deepest, but I’ve got the same brush pen and it’s really awesome. I can’t find any good tutorials for brush pens though, and I was hoping to learn how to use it via the interwebs. Do you know of any sites that have even a small collection of brush pen tutorials?

    Thanks,

    Ø.o

  22. Thomas says:

    I really want to create comic strips but really, I don’t have consistency with my drawings. Hahaha. One character can’t retain that same physical appearance.

    But thanks for this great post still!

  23. Amy says:

    Clay, I feel like I need to experience the Pentel Pen Brush. It may be the answer to my prayers. I live in the middle of nowhere so I may have to order it online, however it would be convenient if I can just pick it up locally. Do you know of any chain stores that carry the paint brush? I’ve noticed that places like WalMart and Office Max have other Pentel products, but haven’t been able to find the pen brush.

    Thanks!!

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      I’d say it’s unlikely the chains would carry it. I’d call first. If you want a brush look with a pen feel you won’t be disappointed. It’s really a great pen at a great price.

    • OG says:

      Amy, I picked up my Pentel Pocket Brush at a nearby Michael’s. They usually have nice weekly coupons you can get from their website, so I got mine 40% off which made it much cheaper than anywhere I found it online.

  24. Edward says:

    Hi, do you still use the same paper mentioned or did you find a better alternative now? Thanks!

  25. Joel says:

    I like my Pentel too but wonder about the best way to get a uniform black expanse, say around a lone subject in a watercolor/ink piece on 4×6″ watercolor paper. I’d hate to use up all my Pentel’s cartridges when I can brush dip ink instead; it’s just that I’m seeing brush strokes when it’s all dry.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      About the only way to not see brush strokes in large black areas is to work on high quality hot press with a brush and very good ink. Since my stuff is always for reproduction I don’t care about variances like that. As long as it reproduces solid I’m cool with it. I actually prefer looking at photocopies of my ink drawings over the originals just for that reason. The blacks are perfectly uniform.

      • Joel says:

        Wow, thank you for the quick reply. I only had time to start looking at your pdf but I can say without a doubt that your cartoons match thoughts I’ve had for thirty years. Good job.

  26. Hello,
    You mentioned that coloring with Photoshop is fine. I don’t actually have Photoshop and will not be able to afford to buy it for a while. Is there another less expensive program I can use that will be able to do the same things as Photoshop?

    I have used gimp in the past, but I realize that is somewhat limited. Any other suggestions or recommendations would help.

    Thanks
    Steve

  27. Charles Kenney says:

    Hi Clay!

    Wish I can see your works in personal.I’m curious at how long did it take you to master the “brush look” by using an ink pen?

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      It didn’t take long. Maybe a couple of years. Probably started around age 15 to try and seriously create that look, and by age 17 I had it down pretty good.

  28. Tedd Mckinley says:

    Hi Clay! Does the brad on the ink pens and other tools highly relevant to a good outcome? I’m dying in your works.

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      Not really. Drawing starts in the mind which is then expressed through the hand and then instrument. As long as you’re not trying to do good line work with crayons and hunks of charcoal, the instrument won’t matter all that much. But good tools do make your job easier and more pleasurable. And most important of all is that you feel comfortable with your tools and enjoy using them. If you don’t like your tools you won’t draw as much.

  29. Sabbir says:

    Hi Clay , the information on your website about the tools is very important and useful as we all know. I have been using rotring , Micron and Pigma brush pens. Good to know about Kuretake and pental brush pens. You have said we need to replace it with Lamy Cartridge is it necessary? Cant we keep the original one and fill ink on it. can we get this cartridge from dickblick? Another important segment we need to know is about is do we need to transform ourselves and learn more using the wacom digital tablets or Ipads for future so that without scanning we can directly use the file for colouring and panel work. I dont find digital pens/boards quite comfortable in compared to the traditional drawing pens and paper. What kind of scanner is we need to preferably have.

  30. Seth Yoder says:

    If I want to get my comics in a newspaper, would I have to use brush pens, and the like, or could I just stick to pens and pencils (like I’m used to)?

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      It doesn’t matter as long as it’s a clean ink line. Ballpoint, sharpies and her types of commercial office products don’t count. Professional ink pens or brushes only.

  31. Cpiro says:

    Awesome tutorial and information for starters or experienced users alike, thanks a lot Clay!!! I my self just started inking actually but im basically inking my own sketches….I was lucky enough to get a bunch (and when i say a bunch i got more than 10 (sizes .30 – 2.0!!) Reform refographs on an auction recently! Im really excited since you cant find them anywhere these days!!Even rapidographs are difficult to find in EU!..Anyway excellent tool for nice lines and the 3085 ink works great thanks!

    I have some duplicate refographs if anyone would like to get one or two from me let me know thanks!

  32. D. T. Walsh says:

    It is my understanding that there are some type of ‘blue’ pencils that one can use to sketch in the rough draft images….. and then ink over those lines…. my understanding is that the blue pencil lines do not show up when the image is reproduced (copied)…

    Rather than erasing.

    Is that true?

    If so, can you tell me the product name for these blue pencils?

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      They’re called non PHOTO blue pencils. Just search for them. They were designed for the days when artwork was shot with a film camera. When you scan artwork it doesn’t work quite the same. You can scan in greyscale which may eliminate most of the blue. But really, you need to use Photoshop tricks to get rid of them. There a lot of techniques that involved separating and deleting the blue line, usually through manipulating RGB channel. But non-photo blue is a relic and there’s no need to use them anymore. Even when, back in the day, my art was shot with a camera, I never used them.

  33. Sabby says:

    Hi Clay, After reading about Brush Pens and which I actually needed much for my cartoons and illustrations I zeroed in for the Pentel pocket brush Pen and really it works well and the ink is also pretty good. Thank you for your informations

  34. Balker says:

    Hi Clay,

    Great site! Very inspirational and great stuff! I did have a question for you.
    I used to do a lot of drawing and developed my skill somewhat, but I’ve been out of it for a long time. I’m looking to get back into sketching and my main goal is to eventually start drawing comics (pen and ink) for fun. I find it much, much more difficult to draw well in pen than in pencil currently; I can pull off a decent sketch in pencil, but not so much with a pen.

    Do you have any recommendations? Should I practice maniacally with a pen to master that art right from the present, or should I master pencil first and transition to pen drawing afterward?

    Thanks!

    Matt

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      Well, since this is for fun I’d forget about the mastery stuff and just pencil and ink your comics right now. No need to wait until you are better. You get better by doing it. And you have to ink because comics in pencil only look crappy. So just start making comics.

  35. A. Fowler says:

    Hello Clay!

    Just wanted you to know that I’ve been referring to this page constantly in my quest to become a professional comic book inker. I do have a question, though: regarding the Pentel Pocket brush pen, I’ve been using it for about 2 1/2 years now (I kind of stumbled upon it on Amazon). Does the Lamy/Platinum Fountain Pen converter work on that too, or do you still use the cartridges that come with it?

  36. pbishop says:

    I recently found a set of Refograph pens and I think they had been in a drawer for at least 20-30 years. They were’t in too bad of shape but did have ink left in them i spent two days cleaning them, soaking in water with mild detergent, cleaning everything until it was spotless, then soaked them in alcohol for about an hour to make sure they were clean, then refilled them with Ultradraw Black India ink, and I can’t get any ink to come out. What should i try now or is this hopeless.

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      There are two things that need to be clear. One is a little side hole that lets in air in the outside part with the threads. Secondly is the nib itself. If you can see light though both of them, and your threads are clean, it should work. Keep in mind the ink takes a while to come out. Gently rock it back and forth (don’t shake) and store it upside down (cap facing down).

  37. pbishop says:

    thanks so much Clay for this information. i am recleaning to ensure both of those areas are clean. i really like this blog.

  38. Kay says:

    Hey, is it fine to ink my graphic novel with a fountain pen? Or should I go with this?

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      Depends on the look you want. A fountain pen and brush will have very different line qualities. If you want that traditional comic book look, use the brush.

  39. Max15 says:

    Hi Clay,
    I am a young artist interested in starting a graphic novel. I have these pens, Faber- Castell? Are they good quality, first of all, and second, could you give me some advice on how to go about starting my novel? I have the idea, the characters, and the storyline, which i am currently mapping out on my computer’s Microsoft Word. I prefer to use paper and pens, but i am interested in brushes? I can tell I am one of the less experienced people posting on this website, so I’m sorry if I’m a little slow. What are the brushes exactly? And would pens work just as well if I want to proceed and ink out my graphic novel? I was originally going to start by drawing it in pencil, then inking it and erasing the smudges. I don’t plan on publishing, just for fun. If you could help me out I would appreciate it.
    Thanks,
    Max15

    • Clay Butler (The Sidewalk Bubblegum Guy) says:

      The brush pens are awesome. They give that cool traditional comic book loos and really speed things up over using a nibbed pen. Make sure you make copies of all your pencils before you ink (either xerox or scans). It’s nice to preserve those as one you ink and erase the pencil, they will be gone forever. Go light on your pencil work so you can erase easily.

  40. Ella Goodwin says:

    I have tried so many brush pens and thought it was just me being a clumsy oaf with them. Thanks so much for finally conquering my quest to get a decent one!

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