Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tools of the Trade: Pens

To piggyback on last week's post about sketchbooks, I thought I would take a moment to talk about pens to sketch with. While there are all sorts of other things you can use for mark making in a sketchbook, I generally stay away from them. Pencils, charcoal and conte are all beautiful to use, but they tend to smear and smudge and discourage me from leafing through my book to look at other drawings. I tend to feel hesitant to touch the pages, lest I mess something up.

I know I could spray the pages with a fixative, but honestly that is too fussy and careful for my tastes. I would rather give up the ability to erase and live with my mistakes than to have to take an extra step to complete my sketching trips.

I also do not use media that works like paint (pen and ink, watercolour) I really don't like wrinkly pages and I dump enough coffee and rain on these poor books to add more ruin to the edges!

So, what is left are pens. I've blogged before about my love for Micron pens. They are produced by Sakura and I've been using them for years and years. I can look back on old sketches done with these pens and they haven't acquired that greenish spread that some felt tipped fine liners do. (think of what a tattoo looks like on a really old sailor if you are trying to imagine what I'm describing)

I've been mainly using 01 and 03 sized tips, but recently switched to an 05 (nice and thick) and I'll be putting up some sketches this week that feature its dark, strong line. Very fun to experiment with.

When I wear the tips down significantly, I keep the pen around and use it for soft gray shading. I pretty much only throw the pen away after I've worn it down to the metal edge and I can't extract any more ink. Or if my kids get a hold of the pen and leave the lid off.

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