Friday, August 07, 2009

Work in Progress: I Hate My Lines

OK, I'll let you in on a secret: at the same time that i'm pleased with The Human Hourglass coming along I've reaching a point where I've decided that I truly hate my lines. As in hating the marks that I'm making on the page.

Now, especially as this is coming from someone whose professional background was as an inker, that might sound a little strange. After all, as I define as inker, it is not as an artist per se, but more of a craftsman, someone with the tools and skill to finish off what the penciller has started and make nice for print. This is not to desparage the work that the inker does, and god knows I worked plenty hard to make my inked pages print well, but more to provide a working definition as how I see the position.

Oh yeah, back to hating my marks.

I found, as I walked around San Diego yet again, alternately marveling at the artistic ability and creative expression and total ineptitude that I saw as I walked the aisles, that i'm starting to dislike the "typical inked look" from mainstream comic books. It looks, to coin a phrase, too "comic book-y" Yes, you heard it here first on the blog-o-sphere: "comic book-y"

And I've decided to blame my tools. why, you might ask? Good question. Simply, I don't think that my favorite #1 Rafael sable is capable of producing a really different set of marks than those that I usually get from it, and so I decided to stage my own experiment with using unfamiliar tools, and see how much I'm able to change that collection of marks that I put down on paper. Any art school student will tell you that there are those days where the instructor says, "You have a broken cork, a bottle of green tempura and a crayon. In front of you is a duck that will be holding 60 second poses. Go. "

Here is a cover that I pencilled for a Carnival story that I may never actually do, yet the cover is fully pencilled and ready for ink. So I've done a few experiments with finishing the cover.

The first has been transferred to 2 ply bristol and uses india ink as a wash, along with undiluted ink as well. Koh-i-noor 3605 ink here.

I'm not sure how well it shows up, but i was getting some really weird textures from the paper in unexpected places, so that the evenness of the grey tones is terrible and I abandoned this one halfway through.

The second has me using a rather large crow quill [brand and name unidentifiable due to years of inky build up on the nib] and, as the drawing indicates, a rather large [#6 scepter gold II] synthetic sable brush in concert. And doing so very quickly.

and this one, as the drawing says, is done with two different size Sharpies and a thin Uniball pen.

So, the question is, which ones do you like? i'm going to take a few days and then come back to this for the hell of it and see what I can make out of this.


Saranga said...

I prefer the first one. The grey tones may be uneven, but I like the depth they give to the picture. The second one is also good but - the trousers have come out well. I don't really care for the last one.

Shelly said...

I also like the first one best. There's such a nice, natural feel to it. I feel as if I can touch the fabric. The second one retains some naturalness, but the third feels too stylized or something.

Nathan Weber said...

I agree with the first two comments. The first really pops, bringing the character forward and leading the eyes to explore. The second has a good natural feel to it. The third looks more like a concept sketch than a 'finished' ink; sharpies just don't give the variation of line thickness needed to capture the soft flow of your pencil work.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

Thanks for the input all, nice to get other eyes on the pieces.

Alex Sheikman said...

I would imagine that everyone you will talk to, will have their own take on what might work best...I look forward to seeing what you will decide on :)

In my mind's eye I think a combination of different things would look nice. Black for the night sky with maybe a little white spray. Brush for the face close-up, figure/cloth outlines. Marker and dip pen for the detail inside the figures and wash for all of the shadows on the figures/close-up (I really liked what you were getting with the wash).

I might be in a minority on this, but I think that the cross hatching on the close-up is what gave it a "comic-book-y" feel. I use cross hatching like that when I am coming out of a black area or if I am trying to suggest some sort of texture. I do believe wash would work well here or maybe a solid black..or just experiment without that shadow. One of the lessons that I am learning is that less complicated sometimes is better and it is the expression on the face that needs to come through rather than a light source.

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Charles,

Beautiful pencil work here, mate.

For the washes, maybe look at trying coping the inked page onto Saunders, Waterford, Hot Press, Watercolour paper, 90lb weight, or drawing it directly onto it at a heavier weight.

If you remember we used to use Kinkos to copy the artwork for the Defiant artwork. The HP surface gives a great surface to ink on and also accepts colour or in this case would be ideal for the grey tone washes. The 90lb weight went through the photocopier easily, anything heavier and the machines couldn't handle it.

This was exactly the way I had been doing colour stuff here in the UK for 2000AD and everybody, before I started working for Defiant.

Looking forward to seeing a fully finished piece from you soon.


Jenifer said...

I think that the cross hatching on the close-up is what gave it a "comic-book-y" feel.
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inkdestroyedmybrush said...

thanks all. I think that i might do a "30 sketches in 30 days" thing to just keep the work moving...

appreciate all the well thought out comments and suggestions from everyone! I feel like i work in such isolation that the internet is, perhaps, the most amazing tool ever to change that fundamental aspect of being an artist.

jenifer - please note that i was trying to not cross hatch on the ink wash one just for that very reason!