Because I mostly draw in pen with a watercolour wash, when it comes to black and white, I find that the most natural way for me to use brush and ink is to add solid areas to a pen drawing.
I’ve drawn my new Lowe Alpine Edge 22 hiking day pack (our old pack was starting to tear along the seams) with my Lamy Safari with the B nib filled with Noodler’s Black Ink then used a number 6 sable and Rohrer’s Indian Ink (see previous post) for the dark areas.
The grey straps and a few shadows in the side pockets were the only areas that I thought would merit solid black but I’ve used a lot of fine brush strokes, often following the weave of the material, for the grey areas. In fact the bag is monochromatic, in two shades of neutral grey.
I like the way that you can tail off a brushstroke to get a pointed line to represent a graded tone. The crisp lines give a woodcut effect.
I used the threshold adjustment in Photoshop in the final version of the drawing (above) to reduce the drawing to pure black and white.
The chapter Black Gold in Drawing Words and Writing Pictures by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden discusses inking comics with a brush. It’s written in such an entertaining and practical way that I thought I’d like to give it a try.
I’ve always struggled when drawing with a brush because:
My hands are so shaky.
I find myself thinking of calligraphic Chinese brushwork and realise that my technique is always going to fall short of that calm fluency.
Abel & Madden highlight some appealing aspects of brushwork that had never occurred to me, for example that brush dries more quickly than dip pen.
They take you step by step through the process of inking. I like their method of dampening the brush before dipping it in the ink, which works better than going straight for the ink. Dipping the brush several times and “tipping off” on the rim of the ink bottle helps build up a reservoir of ink in the brush without overloading it.
My drawing of the shoe took just two brush-loads of ink.
I used a number 6 Daler Rowney Aquafine Sable Round and Rhorer’s Black Indian Ink. I feel that I can clean the brush more easily when using the Rhorer’s than I can with my other Indian ink, Lefranc & Bourgeois Nan-King.
In a chapter on reproducing inked artwork, Abel & Madden go through the process of scanning. Over the years, I’ve scanned hundreds, if not thousands, of pen and ink drawings but I still picked up tips from their suggested workflow; for instance, to reset the resolution (dots per inch) in Photoshop before adjusting the threshold levels (the balance between black and white).
I now feel ready to progress to their follow-up book, Mastering Comics, Drawing Words and Writing Pictures Continued, which amongst other topics, moves on to colour.
3.50 a.m.: Not so much a dawn chorus as a dawn solo as the song thrush goes through it’s varied routine in the half light. It’s not until about an hour later that I hear the five-note cooing of a wood pigeon.
At breakfast-time, on our front lawn, which is shaded by the house from the morning sun, a young blackbird is repeatedly picking up some tiny food item, probably ants. It’s at that halfway stage: still brown and streaky above, but, in contrast, the tail and wing feathers are already showing up in black, so this is a young male.