Episode 426 of the CMP, a Creativity Matters Podcast — October drawing is underway, so lots of ink is happening and some unexpected dip pen exploration and musing
In this episode of the CMP, some October drawing talk, #inktoportraits, some dip pen musing, and a timed drawing session.
In September, I was doing ink swatches in different colored inks each day as part of #30inks30days, an Instagram-based challenge I previously did with tiny portraits in the “tiny” Sketchbook Project book. The approach is to use a different fountain pen ink each day, which means a lot of pen cleaning.
I really enjoy this challenge because it helps me see a range of inks and how they perform on paper. Having this page of swatches is really letting me better evaluate the inks I have (mostly samples) and think about the colors I might want and make choices about which inks to use in my illustrated journal at different times. As a reference card of sorts, the circle swatches have already proven really valuable and eye-opening. Seeing assorted red inks side by side, for example, really has been clarifying in terms of similarities and differences. So the process is really worthwhile — and so pretty. But it is also tedious.
It sounds simple to clean out a fountain pen, but it always seems to take a lot more time and energy than it should. Fountain pens seem to really hold onto a lot of ink in surprising ways. You’ll think you’ve got it clean and sit back down with a paper towel for a final wipe, and the ink is there again and seems to keep coming and coming and coming.
Given this, I decided mid-way to stop even partially filling converters with the daily ink sample and instead just dip the pen in the ink. It works beautifully, and surprisingly, a single dip with a regular fountain pen pulls up a lot of ink. One dip was plenty to do my circle swatches and then some. (It’s hard to believe, but it has still taken a lot of work to get these pens clear of the ink from a single dip.)
Thinking About Dip Pens
The process got me thinking about dip pens, something that many cartoonists and manga illustrators still use for inking. I started looking around to see what was available and finally clued into what a Zebra-G nib actually is. I learned about a number of other popular dip pen nibs, too, including a School Pen nib, which is similar to a Zebra-G but thinner (I believe). I looked at different sets at Amazon. I looked at different holders. I looked at different inks — although if I started trying a dip pen, I would use the fountain pen inks I already have. (That may or may not work for drawing. It may be that true dip pen ink is thicker or something different to work with the nibs.)
I’m still thinking. I watched several videos. I’ve contemplated whether I want to have to go to the trouble. I’ve debated whether it’s at all practical given the way I work (compared to others who have special rooms, spaces, desks, surfaces that might make dipping and open bottles of ink less of a risk). I’ve noticed how many more references to dip pens I’ve seen this October, the classic “seeing blue” effect. And I’ve continued doing some dip swatching with fountain pens. I’m finding that to be a really satisfying process, and I think for now I’m going to experiment a bit more with dipping just with fountain pen and see what I think.
Always something new. I’ve included a few links below for anyone curious about dip pens.
Note: Having hit on the thought above about whether or not fountain pen inks will work, I stopped and did some quick research. My hunch is correct. Fountain pen inks may not work in dip pens. Some might, but most are likely either too thin or too wet. That changes everything! Last night, I dipped one of my Lamy EF nibs in a black, the first black ink dip I’ve done. And it was wonderful. I’m just going to move forward with using my samples in dip format. I think that’s a really good decision and good approach! I’ve got a lot of samples, and deciding to just “dip” them will let me move more easily between inks and maybe even just let whatever blending happens happen. This is a good decision and aha moment!
The portrait-focused prompt set I’ll be using in October can be viewed here.
Draw Along Timed Drawing
The drawing I started while recording this show was this inspiration pick from Sktchy.
Mentioned in this Episode (or Related)
- Episode 262: Inktober (2017)
- Episode 263: Inktober Shift (2017)
- Episode 265: Inktober Week 1 (2017)
- Episode 332: Accordion (2018)
Curious about Dip Pens?
If you’re curious, here are some tools you can look at via Amazon. (These are affiliate links.) See my note above about inks and my ultimate decision (that I feel good about) to just keep dipping the pens I have. I love my fountain pens, and I love them even more when I can move between inks with a dip rather than having to commit to an ink or color for days or weeks or longer!)
- DELETER Trial Pen Set
- Zebra Comic G Model Chrome Pen Nib
- MyLifeUNIT Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Set – 5 Nibs (assorted nibs!)
- Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder
- Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder, Model 36, White Grip
- Uni-Gel Alpha Shaker pencil (mine is listed as “slightly firm” – but it’s super cushy; they do come in other softness/hardness ratings. I really do love this shaker!)
- Pentel Hi-Polymer Block Eraser, Large, White (these things disappear like socks; you can never have too many white erasers lying around)
- Moleskine Art Sketchbook (what I’m using for regular drawing)
- Moleskine Art Sketchbook — the REALLY big one — A3 (11.75″ x 16.5″)
- Micron Pens
- Sktchy app for inspiration photos
- Zebra Fudes (good for filling in)
- Pentel Fudes
- Micron 08 (larger nib good for thicker lines or filling in small-medium spaces)
- Micron 01 (favorite for drawing)
- Micron Sampler (6 count)
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