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What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:28 pm
by inkface
    I need to know what pens are the best. I want to try the crow quill pen but i only have copy paper. Do nib pens only work n Bristol board?

    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:18 pm
    by Mr. Average
    I don't think it's so much a matter of "best" versus "best for you." I use a lot of different pens and brushes depending on what I'm trying to achieve. For my current comic I use Copic technical markers, because speed and uniformity are required, and since they're alcohol based, they dry fast and don't bleed, allowing me to save money and buy a lower grade of bristol paper. But on other projects I use brushes, crowquills, calligraphy blades, drafting pens, and so on, and each has its pluses and minuses. There's really not much substitute for just diving in and experimenting, and there's no "right" tool to use. I know that kind of sounds like a cop-out, but it's really true.

    Here are a few general thoughts I've had on the subject, though:

    Brushes are harder to control and take a lot of practice (God knows, I have yet to master them) but give a very slick and smooth result that is most like what people associate with "American" comics. Technical markers and drafting pens produce consistent, uniform line thicknesses and so rather than using one tool in different ways, you end up having to have a lot of them that you have to switch out when you want a thicker or thinner line. Some people use markers and build up line thicknesses to make them LOOK like a brush but you can pretty much always tell the difference. Dip pens and crowquills are kind of a happy medium, with flexibility like a brush but a certain degree of toughness like a drafting pen, but they tend to be sharp and actually incise the surface of the paper, so I've found that you have to use a higher grade of paper to keep them from bleeding or feathering - when I use crowquills, on my comic Hotel Metropolitan, for example, I use 500lb 3-ply board that I have to cut myself from large sheets - it's an additional investment for a specific type of art.

    As for paper, again, it's a matter of preference. I've seen people produce stunning work on cut-up grocery bags. But yes, crowquills will work best on higher-weight bristol board. Brushes will work well on any paper that will hold wet media (watercolor paper, ink paper, etc), but it's more a function of how watery the ink is, in the end. And markers will work on just about anhything, but it's worth testing it first. In the marker department I prefer alcohol-based Copic technical markers to Pigma Microns, as the latter tend to fade under erasure and are solvent-based, which can bleed on thinner papers.

    If you're just starting out I think markers on 2-ply 300-lb bristol board is probably the most accessible way to start. From there, experiment with brush, and then crowquill, and different weights of paper (400-500lb bristol, hot or cold press watercolor paper, ink paper, standard typing papers, etc). But this is just one possibility - in the end, you should dive in wherever you think you're interested and just start fussing around with them, to see what they can do. Just do whatever you think will be fun and interesting - in the end, that's kind of the point, as I see it.

    One suggestion though - forget white-out for correcting mistakes. The stuff is worthless. Buy a tube of Zinc White gouache and apply it pure. It dries to a matte finish that will accept ink, where white-out dries glossy and will tend to shed and smear when new ink is applied to it.


    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 3:09 pm
    by kstipetic
    Nib pens work best on smooth surfaces. The fine point tends to catch on the fibers of textured paper. I used to use bristol, but recently I found this paper,, #234, Paper for Pens. It's much cheaper than bristol board and even smoother.

    As for which nibs to use, you'll really have to experiment with that. Luckily, they usually only cost from a dollar to a dollar-fifty. Also, nibs come from the factory with a wax coating which can inhibit the ink flow. To get rid of the wax, immerse the the nibs for a second in boiled water and then quickly wipe them off.

    Hope that helps! Although I'm a little confused by your question. If you haven't bought the pens yet, why not just pick up some new paper in the same trip?

    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:33 pm
    by Kazu
    I use crow quills, but Amulet is done with a pencil. When you scan clean pencil lines into Photoshop and increase the contrast through the level adjust, you can mimic a really thin dry brush. I find that it makes for more fluid lines, and really helps the action scenes.

    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:03 pm
    by thirdeyeh
    I use Microns exclusivey for my detail inks, sizes .005, .02 and .05. when I have large black areas I use india ink and a brush. I find it is easier to shape my lines with a pen than a brush.

    I've tried using pencils for my inks and I honestly just don't feel as confident with it yet, but I do really like the quality of the final product over inks when done well.

    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 12:24 pm
    by Adam Black
    Hi. I'm new here. Don't even have an avatar yet! :D Here's my inking setup, which works well with both bristol and ordinary copy paper:

    For the most part, an old-fashioned sable hair #3 does the trick, but I stopped using India Ink years ago. It went from black to gray when they stopped putting lead in it, so I switched to Chinese ink. Blacker than the devil's heart and smooth as butter.

    For tiny background linework (like buildings and such), I switch over to Microns. 01, 02, and 03 usually, with 08 for panel borders. I don't use the pens too much, though. The brush makes inking much quicker and gives much better lines.

    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:33 am
    by briantaylor
    I ink with pencil and find it gives me greater control. I've tried inking with pens, brushes, and crow quills; none quite give me the control I want. Part of that might be needing to practice more though. A lot of it comes down to user preference and the look you're after.

    Re: What inking pen to use? Nib pens?

    Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:41 pm
    by cheshire
    my favorite quills are Japanese, the quills i like are Deleter brand Maru(super fine tip) G-pen(sturdy chrome type quill for wider more expressive lines) and Sagi (rounder spoonish shaped quill for curvy lines), the quill holder i like is a cork grip Tachikawa holder(though you can add a grip to most regular holders)

    bristol board is great(my favorite ive afforded so far is straphmore 300 series 2 ply)id stay with straphmore paper usually, but if you like printer paper i would recommend the linen paper(there a few companies that make it) its got alittle bit of texture to it, and tends to have a nice blue/white twinge to it that doesnt yellow)