Two Portraits, Two Different Pens

August 8, 2022


I am always amazed at the different line qualities different pens give the same hand. And how even the same pen dried out will render results so different from the first use of a non-refillable pen, or any tool that gets worn.

In this page spread I warmed up with a sketch from one of @Earthworld’s fair photos, using a Tombow Fudenosuke pen. 

But then I switched off to a very dried out Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen FB (fine brush). It was so dry by this time you can see the wear of the tip in the lines when you look at the enlargement. And the overall ink level ends up looking almost like graphite.

All of this is of course self evident, until it isn’t. A student asked me the other day about shifts in line quality when using larger tools like the various crayons and pastels available.

That student hasn’t experimented enough yet to see what the differences can be.

A change in tool often requires a change in pressure, a change in scale, and a rethinking about which details will now be possible to capture.

Such adjustments keep us agile.

As you start the week, put your favorite tool aside and spend your drawing time with a tool that is much bolder or much finer. Think about what your scale needs to be if you want to keep your typical amount of detail; or decide how you’re going to simplify.

Think of it as “opposite” week, and enjoy the discoveries.

    • AlisonO
    • August 8, 2022

    So relevant to where I am in my practice. Thank you Roz, you are an oracle today as well as a fount of wisdom!

    1. Reply

      Alisono so glad this post was helpful. I hope you have been having a productive “opposite” week! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Zora
    • August 8, 2022

    When I look at you sketches I can almost feel the fat under the skin of the person, or see facial bones, the resignant feeling of that person at the particular moment, the attitude to everyday life, high blood presure, drinking problem, etc. Sooo interesting what a sketch can evoke in a person looking at it. Thank you.

    1. Reply

      Thank you for your comment Zora, I’m so glad that you can see that in my sketches. I always hope that some emotion is showing through.

    • Sharon+Nolfi
    • August 8, 2022

    I like the effect of the dried out pen! I have some lying around and am going to try this. Smooth contours of the first sketch are appealing, but the roughness of sketch #2 has more of an emotional effect.

    1. Reply

      I agree Sharon that the second portrait has more emotion. I was warming up with the first one and it wasn’t going in such a fashion that it was going to be much when I finished and I have limited time so I decided to stop and switch pens. I did have to at least complete the face, to convince myself I could move along…I hope you have fun with your dried out pens!

      I am particularly fond of the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pen when dried out. You’ll see me use the FB all the time from that line, but I really like the Bold (BB). Trouble is I only like the bold when it is dried out so that’s a lot of drawing to get to a point where I like the tool! Here’s one I did with an almost completely dried out BB.

    • Sharon Nolfi
    • August 11, 2022

    Dried out BB pen gives that sketch an interesting texture. I bought a set of 3 Sakura PPB pens that includes BB size bot I like that the least. No chance of that getting used up.

    1. Reply

      Sharon, over time it may dry out naturally, check it every so often. My favorite pen of that series is obviously the FB. I don’t like the MB because it seems really stiff. The BB isn’t a favorite pen, but I use it on really large sketches until it starts to dry out, and then I can use it in “dried out” mode on smaller sketches that fit 8 x 10 inches or less.

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