Comics (127)
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Music (14)
Sketchbook (30)
Webbledegook (86)
Work (38)
total posts: 653
Book agent:
A. M. Heath
UK Publisher:
Dutch Publisher:
Silvester Strips
Spanish Publisher:
NetCom2 Editorial
French/Belgian Publisher:
BD Must Editions
German Publisher:
Salleck Publications
Danish Publisher:
Guardian Unlimited:
blog of the day 29.04.2004

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Category: Sketchbook | back to blog |
Dip-pen nibs
Friday 3 October 2014
My favourite part of drawing is inking. The hard work, creating the art from scratch on a blank piece of paper, is done, and I'm over the summit and on the down-slope freewheel to the completed page (uphill: plotting, scripting, roughs and pencils; downhill: inking, colouring and lettering).
Inking isn't totally free of creativity or difficulty, there's plenty of that involved, but it is made enormously more fun for me thanks to the tool I use - the humble dip-pen. I find it such a pleasure to use. I feel as though there is a tradition and history I'm part of. Using a dip-pen is a craft - the very act of getting the ink yourself, of charging the nib directly from the inkwell, and then drawing - from brain to arm to hand to nib to ink to paper, resulting in a physical image, transferred kinetically straight from the source (me).

The first dip-pen I used, on the opening three pages of The Rainbow Orchid, was an Osmiroid Rolatip. Using it now it seems so basic and easy to use, but back then I struggled with its unpredictability, and soon moved to using Rapidographs (often doubling the line to inject some variation). After a few years I found the Rapidograph unsatisfying and I decided to give dip-pens another try. I bought a Hunt 107, struggled a bit, and then it seemed to click.

Towards the end of The Rainbow Orchid I started to find the 107 a little unsubtle for some of the stuff I wanted to do, and a couple of pages into The Secret of the Samurai I turned to the Hunt 102, a finer nib and a little more flexible. I had no problem with this nib, but got curious about the Tachikawas that seemed to be so readily available (when the Hunts weren't).

So next I tried the Maru and the G-nib. The G-nib is a very good manga pen, but not quite right for ligne claire. The Maru was pretty close to the 102, perhaps able to go a little finer - a tiny bit less flexible, but with a tad more character, I think. I seem to be favouring the Maru at the moment, though I'd like to try a few British nibs at some point, perhaps a Gillott or a Leonardt.

Whenever I mention dip-pens on my website, or at comics workshops (I'm nearly always asked what tools I use) I always get interest in them. I'm often asked what kind is best, how to use them and where you can get them. Sometimes people come back to me, frustrated that they've not been able to get to grips with it. It's not like a marker or a drawing pen - you can't just pop the lid off and go. It can take a little while to get used to, but if it's the right tool for you (and it may not be) then it will click, and you'll love it.

Because of this interest, a couple of days ago I decided to make a video about dip-pens. I ramble on about them for about 10 minutes (probably a bit too long, sorry) and then demonstrate three nibs in action. Just seeing the dip-pen work can erase a lot of the mystery. So, if you're interested, here's the video ...

posted 03.10.14 at 12:09 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | 4 |

Blake and Mortimer
Monday 20 January 2014
Here's a Blake and Mortimer pencil drawing I did as a warm-up sketch this morning ...
posted 20.01.14 at 10:48 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | 4 |

Thursday 28 March 2013
Looking for some artwork the other day I came across these two creatures, drawn in 2010 ...

They were for some kind of monster book for the Crystal Palace Book Festival, though I never managed to get a copy so can't offer any more details. I only submitted the top one, but I think now I prefer the bottom one - especially as it seems to catch spiders!

posted 28.03.13 at 10:17 am in Sketchbook | permalink | |

Samurai battle
Wednesday 20 March 2013
I recently had to depict a samurai battle scene and decided to take a couple of (poor quality, iPhone) photos of the early stages, so here it is from sketchy beginnings to full-colour finished.
As you can see, the scene is very complicated and it took a long time to do. I was a little worried when I came to ink it that it would be just an amorphous mass of chaotic detail, but also fairly confident that colour would sort it all out in the end. The main character has a slightly lighter tone than his fellow ashigaru, and the sky is at its brightest right behind him in order to direct the focus, even if it is subtle!

posted 20.03.13 at 12:15 am in Sketchbook | permalink | 9 |

Bald Boy Sketches and a few links
Wednesday 27 June 2012
This week's issue of The Phoenix (no. 26) sees the final part of Ben Haggarty's Bald Boy and the Dervish, drawn by me. Below are some of the rough character I sketches I drew after reading the script.

In other news, if you've recently ordered books from my online shop - a huge thank you! I have had quite a number of orders, which is lovely, but it does mean there will be a bit of a backlog to send off, so please be patient while I get through them all as best as I can.

A couple of other things of note ... Steve Holland's Bear Alley has recently published a great little article by Jeremy Briggs on the short-lived but influential Near Myths magazine. I'm really lucky to own some of Tony O'Donnell's Thiirania originals, as well as all five issues of the publication itself. Go and have a read.

And you may remember, some time back, that I plugged a super Playmobil comic by Nick Foulger called The Green Man. Nick wrote to tell me that it is now available to read for free as an online video/slide show. It's also available in French, German and Spanish, so do go and give it a look - I think it's really impressive.

Let me also point you to the website of an artist who I met at the Bristol Comic show, but who's work I've been aware of for a little longer than that. Sara Dunkerton is producing some absolutely wonderful stuff, and I've just seen a sneaky-peek of something she's working on with marvellous writer Matt Gibbs and it's really knocked my socks off. Do also go and check out Improper Books, where Matt is an editor. Some good stuff coming your way!

Finally - don't forget I'm at Waterstones in Deansgate, Manchester, this Sunday, where I'll be running a comic character creation workshop from 1-3pm. If you can't make that, and are nearer London, then i'd highly recommend you get yourself along to the Pop-up Festival Comics Big Top of Awesome on Saturday which, as it says on the tin, looks distinctly awesome!

posted 27.06.12 at 11:45 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | |

Yves Chaland tribute
Tuesday 13 December 2011
I was invited by the Klare Lijn International blog to contribute to their Yves Chaland tribute (see here and here) so I drew my favourite characters, Freddy, Dina and Sweep. It's been up for a while now, so thought I could post it here as well.
posted 13.12.11 at 10:14 am in Sketchbook | permalink | 2 |

Throne of Blood
Sunday 10 July 2011
Drawing's an odd thing. Sometimes I can sit there drawing quite difficult things and slowly but surely they emerge on to the paper just as I wanted. At other times I just can't get a seemingly simple leg to look right and it takes forever and nothing comes out as it should. Yesterday was one of those days! (Except it was some fairly simple perspective, not a leg).
Anyway, I didn't want to go to bed without feeling as though I'd accomplished something, so did another Kurosawa drawing. This time it's Lord Washizu from the astounding Throne of Blood (1957).

posted 10.07.11 at 9:42 am in Sketchbook | permalink | 5 |

Princess Yuki
Monday 4 July 2011
I had a sudden urge to draw something not-for-work late last night, so had a quick go at Princess Yuki, as played by Misa Uehara in Kurosawa's Hidden Fortress.
If you haven't heard it yet, the latest Adventure Films Podcast is all about The Hidden Fortress - you can listen to it here.

posted 04.07.11 at 8:13 am in Sketchbook | permalink | 1 |

Monday 19 April 2010
I was just about to go to bed at about one o'clock last night when I had a sudden urge to draw Judge Dredd. I've only drawn him once before - for a fanzine in about 1986. Anyway, it's just a quickie, and I coloured it this morning...
Edit: Of course I have drawn Judge Death before!

posted 19.04.10 at 1:47 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | 2 |

Rocket hug
Thursday 11 March 2010
Here is some fan art for the brilliant Nedroid, because he regularly gives me a good chuckle (especially with the exploits of Reginald, Beartato and friends). If you don't already read them, go and see!
posted 11.03.10 at 10:31 am in Sketchbook | permalink | |

Learning animals
Friday 22 May 2009
I haven't blogged much this month, things have been somewhat hickeldy-pickeldy. June will be a time of intense work and will include the 40th of June, more of which in a week or so. I've been collecting so many links to share and comics I want to write about that my head's a bit over-full, so for now, here are some recent sketches I've been doing for Rainbow Orchid volume two.
I love drawing elephants - they're like two old men in baggy trousers.

posted 22.05.09 at 11:54 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | |

And I will not suffer a monster to live!
Thursday 23 April 2009
A post on Andrew Wildman's blog sent my mind racing... where could that stray speech balloon have come from? Here's my take from an imaginary comic, and because it's Andrew, I included a robot - though perhaps a little more old fashioned in style than he usually draws!

Cross posted at the Super Comics Adventure Squad.

posted 23.04.09 at 11:15 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | |

On the rampage
Tuesday 31 March 2009
This drawing is Dave Shelton's fault - his lovely cartooning gave me the stomping urge.
posted 31.03.09 at 12:59 am in Sketchbook | permalink | |

Wednesday 4 February 2009
I have just finished Tezuka's Dororo volume 3 - what an excellent piece of work. The tale of a child (Hyakkimaru) born bereft of body parts, supplied with prosthetic limbs and things by an adoptive father (a proto-Black Jack), he comes of age and goes on a quest to regain his real anatomy from the 48 demons that now possess them, accompanied by a child thief, the titular Dororo.
Here is a drawing I made of the two adventurers, Hyakkimaru and Dororo, rustled up this morning.

posted 04.02.09 at 2:49 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | |

Tuesday 2 December 2008
I have been thinking about doing some Tozo fan art as an appreciation of a superb comic strip for quite a while, and so it became this morning's warm-up/procrastination sketch.

If you're not aware of Tozo, go and get reading, and you can also see the interview I did with David O'Connell, the strip's creator, here.

posted 02.12.08 at 6:14 pm in Sketchbook | permalink | |

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Julius Chancer, The Rainbow Orchid, story, artwork, characters and website © 1997 and 2016 Garen Ewing & inkytales