Colored pencils for pencilling

Something that I’ve been doing for awhile now is pencilling my comics with colored pencils (I was inspired after seeing some sketches by Marian Churchland on Instagram). What I like about doing this is that they let me build a drawing without having to erase too much. I can start with an orange, and then when I want to nail down a line, I can switch to a purple or blue.

I do this on the finished page, also. I find it really helps with distinguishing, back-, middle-, and foreground.

I also find that the colors are so light that they drop out when I play with the levels after I scan a page. That means less erasing and less of a chance of the pencils muddying the clarity of the inks, which can happen with graphite.

Colored pencils can have their drawbacks. It’s hard to keep them as fine as graphite. And sometimes they are so light that I have trouble seeing them. Also, if I go too crazy, there can be a waxy build-up on the page which can impede ink flow. Though the easy fix for that is to finish my pencils fully on another piece of paper and start a new one for final inks.


Still, for me the benefits outweigh the potential negatives. And sometimes the pencils just come out looking really cool.

Speedball Super Black vs. Holbein Super Opaque Black

speedball super black and holbein super opaque black acrylic ink

I’m always on a quest for the perfect ink. A long time ago, Jimmie Robinson told a group of us who were at a meeting of Bay Area comics creators that he used Speedball Super Black. Over the years, this is probably the ink that I have used the most and the most often returned to.

Well, I’m returning to it again.

Most recently, I have been trying out Holbein Super Opaque Black Acrylic Ink. As I mentioned in a previous post, I tried it because I had really loved Holbein Special Black, but couldn’t get that ink anymore. The Super Opaque Black isn’t an India ink, but instead a water-based acrylic. So I was concerned at first, but it’s a good ink. The lines I get from it are fine and it’s probably the blackest ink I’ve used. It dries like a watered down acrylic paint. So its coverage is incomparable. However, the longer I’ve used it the thicker it has gotten. Even when I vigorously shake up the bottle before I pour it out, it is often so viscous that I cannot get it to flow from my dip pen nib. Water in my ink well helps, but too much can cause the ink to gray out. Also, over time I’ve noticed that my nibs are gumming up and wearing out faster. I think the acrylic is just hard on my tools. But I wanted to give it a fair try and so I kept going with it. But my frustration was growing and that’s never a good thing.

So I switched back to Speedball Super Black. And it flows like a dream. Now, what tends to make me drift away from Super Black and try other inks is that Super Black tends to be a bit watery. On the one hand, this is why it flows so well. On the other hand, it can fuzz out and bleed on certain papers. Obviously, I can just use papers that work with Super Black, but sometimes I like to try out new notebooks and sometimes Super Black doesn’t work on the paper in them. And so I yearn for something more dependable.

Really, what it comes down to is that Holbein Special Black was the best ink. It sucks that I can’t get it anymore.

inks

Europe Comics

So I’ve been reading comics on-line more and more frequently, especially these days. A lot of these I get through ComiXology or Sequential. But then my library also has a service, Hoopla, that has a lot of graphic novels. And I just noticed that many of the ones that I’ve been enjoying recently have all been published by the same publisher, Europe Comics. So here’s a little list of what I’ve enjoyed.

Alt-Life. Thomas Cadéne and Joseph Falzon.
A sci-fi story about two test subjects trying out a new virtual reality system that is intended to be the future fir humanity. Funny and sexy.

Blossoms in Autumn. Zidrou and Aimée de Jongh.
A very real story of getting older and finding love when you no longer recognize yourself in the mirror.

Daughters of Salem. Thomas Gilbert.
A tale about the old days of Salem that portrays the horror of the witch trials but yet manages to not be too heavy-handed. Beautiful color work.

Human. Diego Agrimbau and Lucas Varela.
A really engaging story about the last humans returning to Earth and hoping to start over. I love the art and visual storytelling in this.

Just Enough. Flavia Bondi.
This sounds like the kind of comic you’ve read countless times before: young people who don’t know what to do with their lives. But the focus here is on a relationship and it mines some very real territory. And the art is incredible.

The Muse. Zidrou and Oriol.
A beautiful little art mystery story.

The Perineum Technique. Florent Ruppert and Jérome Mulot.
I wrote about this before, but I recently reread it. This is a story about on-line dating, love, and the art world. Really clever and fun.

Seven Places Without You. Juan Berrio.
Simple line art with beautiful color that creates a sense of space and the slow passage of time as a relationship ends.

old work

With the sheltering in place, I’ve been taking time to organize things. The other day I went through a bunch of old drawings and comics work and saw a few things I hadn’t thought about in years. Here are a few.

“Mummy” from 2004
“Conjurer” from 2004
From 2007, this is the original attempt at “Museum Piece.” I actually kind of like the art better on this one.
Also from 2007, “The Planner,” which appeared in The Comic Eye anthology.