Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yes, those are my used pens. People often ask me what kind of pen I use; what's my favourite. As little as a year ago, I'd have said it doesn't matter. Give me a hotel pen, a big fat one, or an expensive Cross, and I'd only ask that it be black. And, yes, it's true that a pro can use any media and he'd still be able to draw. I can use any pen, it's true, but do I necessarily want to?
First, there's the issue of consistency. When you're doodling for fun, it doesn't matter much, but if you're trying to create a product, then you want as much consistency between drawings as possible. If a watercolourist changed his paper significantly, we'd notice. I'll get more into the differences between brands of ink in a later post.
The second issue is artistic consistency. By that I mean, when you find a pen that gives you the result you want (you've successfully created a piece you like with it) then you can be reasonably sure that you know the result you'll get the next time you use that pen. Drawing and art making are hard enough in and of themselves that as an artist, it's a great comfort to eliminate that source of stress from the equation. It's in my best interest to use the most stable mediums, so that I am not constantly struggling against them, instead of focusing my energies on creating a good picture.
Of course, preference changes as you go on and are exposed to more mediums. At the tail end of high school I became obsessed with Cross pens. They look fancy, are expensive, and to my young mind, were the greatest pen since sliced bread. I later realized that their disadvantages far outweighed their cool factor. They're expensive and the metal casing is too slippery for constant use. They're shorter than most pens, thinner, and heavier, which makes them uncomfortable for prolonged use.
Now, my favourite pen is the Bic Cristal. It's light, just thick enough to be hefty, and it's transparent. That's a great feature, because I can tell how much ink I have left. New pens (and up to 1/3 full) are different from low pens. Their ink flows better and is richer. For intricate pieces, where I need to know the pen will work correctly, I'll use a new pen, then swap it out for a less full one for areas where I can be rough (such as black negative space). I also find Bic ink to be the best. It's richer and blacker than other inks, but still has a pleasant purplish cast, unlike other pens that are bluer, redder, or grayer. I like the Cristals because they have the thinnest nibs of all pens, and I can do more intricate lines with them. I'm not sure if their balls are actually smaller than other pens, the encasing is less bulky and that means I can see what I'm drawing better. Lastly, did I mention they're cheap? That's pretty important if you go through as many as I do. Anyways, I think that's enough of my views on ballpoints for now.

I'm working on two illustrations at the moment, and I would normally have something to show for it, but they're for Secret Santa over at ConceptArt, so I can't say anything, not even what they're of in case the person happens to see! The wait is killing me. I'll be posting preliminary sketches and thumbnails as soon as I can.

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