Sunday, 16 October 2016

40 artists answer the big question: Who uses pencil and ink any more?

Since I was busy rubbing out pencil lines on a recently inked Feeding of the 5000 page, I was moved to ask the following question on Facebook:

Fellow comic artists. Am I the last person to still use pencil and ink? And a rubber (here's me rubbing out now)? I've hardly updated my working practices in 30 years. I pencil in HB on Bristolboard, ink with a Windsor and Newton sable brush and a rotring pen. Anyone else still working 1890s style like this? (I letter and colour in Photoshop, so I've been dragged into the 1990s at least).

The answers came in their many...

Nick Miller No, you're not the only one Kev. I'm still working my way through a batch of dip pen nibs I inherited from my artist mother. There's no school like old school.

Becky Fawcett I do Kev! I thought I was the only one left!

David Leach Pencil using blue leads over light box, multiple tracing in search of 'the one'. Then finished pencils followed by ink using fibre brush pen. Scan in colour, then remove blue line, just left with black ink and colour using photoshop.

Simonetta Avossa Carvell Russ still uses, all the methods you do.

Glenn B Fleming I still use all those things, Kev, so you're not alone. I use coloured inks and paint, though... so they're slowly getting to you...

John Ross I'm the same as you, Kev, except I scan my pencils into PC, change to blueline then print onto A3 bristol board and ink using pens and brush pen. Looks like you're working on a flat desk too, which I did (for about 30 years) until recently. I had to have surgery last month to remove a slipped disc in my neck. Really hope your body's bearing up better than mine, mate, but I'd recommend you get a draughtsman's table or similar and start working on a bit of an incline. I'm guessing you'll feel the benefit,

Lew Stringer I use blue non-repro pencil on Canson Bristol Board, then ink with Zig Cartoonist pens and UniPin fine liners. (And use UniPins if I'm lettering too.) Then scan into Photoshop to colour.

Henry Flint Slightly different. I pencil on layout paper then use a light box to ink onto glossy card. Fine liners on glossy card flow nicely.

Garen Ewing I've turned to digital for most of my commercial illustration, but still draw my comics with a clutch pencil, ink with a dip pen (currently a Leonardt nib) and on Goldline Bristol board.

Jamie Smart I think a lot of artists still do don't they? For the record I never even evolved to Bristolboard, I've been working on sketch pads my entire career :)

Kev Sutherland Wow, 10 artists in and no mention of a Cintiq. I feel a lot less antiquated now.

Jim Wheelock I do a lot on paper, but finish digitally. For my GN, INFERNO LOS ANGELES, I designed the pages on paper, laid the panels out in Photoshop, did pencils on paper and scanned and then inked them in Manga Studio, inserting them in the frames. It let me work lager, which loosened up my drawing a lot. Manga Studio let me experiment more, and get past some of my blocks because I could always "fix" it. My old inked pages were piled on with white-out and corrections. On the other hand, I've been working in pencil and Prismacolors with watercolor pencils on colored paper in live sketch sessions and have been thinking of doing a story that way. Very hybrid.

Steve Bright Did all of the above for over 20 years before moving over to the Dark Side of digital, and eventually fully converting to Cintiq (there - said it!) drawing seven years ago. Never looked back! Let's be blunt here - I still use all the 'old skills', and the requirement for them and talent is every bit as important to produce quality digital work as before. I can now do it faster and cleaner though, and I have many, many more options before me, all in one neat package. I can also still use all of the old stuff, but why would I want to? Come on in, folks - the water is lovely... (why do I suddenly feel like the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? "Lollipops, ice cream, chocolate, treacle tart - all free today. Come along, Children...")

Nigel Parkinson For me, 45gsm Layout paper, a bit of HB pencil, then Pilot sign pen and Staedtler Pigment liners (0.3 mainly) followed by Staedtler plastic eraser. Then Photoshop to clean up and spot black and then colouring.
Never used Bristol Board, gave up dip pen and ink a long time ago because of THIS ...

Graham Bleathman All my cutaways are hand drawn and hand painted....I'm sure I'm the last person on Earth do to them like this, which probably makes my style unique now (and if I sell the original- which I very occasionally decide to do - the new owner gets an original piece of art, not a print)....

Alex Collier Cintiq user here. Originally got it for animation work, but gradually started inking my Viz comics with it, then producing the pencils with it, and now use it all the time for everything. I personally find it so much neater, quicker, and more enjoyable to use. It's brilliant to have as many chances at getting that 'line' as you need. I chucked my old drawing board out, and keep my nibs on a museum shelf. It's a shame not have an original bit of art to hold on to, and then to clog up my spare room with, but the trade off, to me, is well worth it, and I never fancy flogging my original work off anyway. Mainly cos I suspect no one would buy it.

Guy Venables I wouldn't dare use anything so modern as a rotring pen. I use a dip pen and one of them is a feather.

Stephen Waller · Friends with Jamie Smart and 9 others
I wish I could. Ink looks so much more human. I pencil in my A4 sketchbook, but then 'ink' on my iPad. I only really get to draw comics sitting on the train to and from work, so working with real ink has never been a something I could consider when the train carriage is bumping all over the place. Maybe one day...

Joe Matthews blue pencils, on layout paper, twice size, then scan and colour up on photoshop. lettering in Illustrator,

Andrew Dodd You may find it handy to convert your own hand writing to a font you can use in photoshop too. I also have a similar method of working and it can help with a story to switch media like that.

Whilst I use photoshop alot to create digital art, I DO still do things the old fashioned way for certain art...and I love it! example...Clint...all done by hand, not a pixel in sight...

Stephen White I'm totally traditional....except for the colouring. I letter on the computer too, was surprised to see you drawing the bubbles into the artwork.

Toby Reeve I occasionally wonder whether and how artists balance being digital only with this meaning there is no other income from selling the pages at a later date.

Davey Jones Bristol board, pencil and dippy nibs here, too. Some years ago at Viz we decided to buy enough Gillott 303 nibs to last us until we die, and divided them up between us. My pile of little boxes doesn't look very big at all. Hate opening a new one, because I feel the chill of the grave.

Paul Savage I don't even use bristol board. Pencil on a pre printed border, then inked over with a rotring artpen. Letter on there as well. Then I scan, and tinker. It's just what I find quickest.

Yup, I'm pens, pencils and paper all the way!

David Roach Oh, I still use pencil on paper, which I then ink with a dip pen or brush, though I use fine line markers as well. My latest Judge Andersoin strip ( in Prog 2000) was also painted in Gouache. But I did a few panels just in pencil so yu probably can't get more retro. You are not alone Kev.

Nick Brennan Oh dear. I'm all over the place with what I use. Started with pen & ink on some hot-pressed paper from Letraset, but that was no good when the Dandy went full colour; so switched to watercolour paper for the colouringwifedroid to use acrylic paint on. Then she got Photoshop and since then it's been various pens (dip, unipin, Artpen) on various papers (bristol, cartridge, printer) for scanning. A lot of this switching about after being somewhat frustrated by finding areas of paper where the ink will start to bleed all over the shop for no apparent reason. After I've pencilled it all up and inked half of it, usually. Nnnngh. So in the pursuit of a nice clean line, I am now grappling with a Wacom tablet, at least for some of the stuff I do.

Michael How Well Kev Sutherland, I'm a comic artist of a different sort, but as a live performer you'll be pleased to know that I too remain one hundred per cent analogue. This is largely due to the fact that no one in TV will give me a job, but I don't care!

Sarah Joy I'm an occasional illustrator - I use pencil on sketchbook, then layout paper, then over the top in Pilot pen (when my Rotrings got a bit unreliable), then scan, occasionally vectorise in Illustrator then colour and chop about in Illustrator or Cocopop.

Davy Francis Yes Key, pen and ink all the way ( but no pencils)!!

Simon Wyatt Still old school pencils, ink on paper.

Anji Jane Cuttler Pens, pencils, paper , rubbers, pastels & charcoal & anything hands on , love all of the earthy stuff x

Haven't touched a pencil since I got the tablet… and I'm a little ashamed to admit that. Miss my favourite pencils :-(

Ryobina Polfuss I create illustrated paper puppet colouring kits, a moving thing which you can't really do on a computer. I use pencil & ink, and a (home built) light box to build the layers. I even hand write all the instructions. (at some point I did start using my photocopier to make the reduced size instructional image because that's faster than hand drawing it. And I use a photocopier to reproduce the finished papers to sell.)

Roderick McKie I know people who do a combination. That's among both comic artists and book illustrators. They pencil, sometimes small, with full pages on A4, increase them on the computer to A3 and work them up to a finish. That's the line work done and often that's...See More

Tony O'Donnell I am still traditional - I have tried with the computer but I struggle with it.

Seán Michael Wilson If it aint broke, dont update it!

Pete Renshaw My working method is as follows and has evolved for speed. HB pencil on Bristol Board. Ink over with Pentel Brushpen and Sharpies, the brushpen gives the same cursive line as a good sable but indian ink is an environmental hazard, you can knock it over. Indian ink is wonderful and gives a dense black but takes too long to dry. Problem solved by scanning and adjusting blacks in Photoshop which is quicker. Work on the image in Manga Studio, correcting mistakes, adding hatching and cutting into the blacks. MS includes tools that can be set to feather each line etc. Make a mistake and you 'undo' so you can be bold and experimental. Then turn Layer to multiply and check the lighthouse symbol so that the B&W layer becomes a guide. Colour on layers below. Move on to the next image in 110 page graphic novel without guilt.

Penny Sharp I use pencil on paper and then ink - usually just cartridge though - sometimes colour on the cartridge, sometimes scan and colour

Mark Irwin You mean there are easier ways to do this?:) 100% traditional here.

Richard Stone Still working freehand traditional, Kev, can't focus any other way than the pencil/pen biting the paper/bristol board. 

Only use digital to tweak contrast and blacks and greyscale prior to printing. 

Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here

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