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One More Thing about Tools Changing the Way We Draw

November 18, 2022
I sketched this portrait using a Sailor Fude pen and Platinum Carbon Black ink. I was working on the drawing paper contained in the Hahnemühle Travel Journal.

This is part three of a 3-part series on how our drawing tools change the way we draw. Part one is here. And part two was Monday and you can toggle back to it using the navigation links at the base of this post.

I have focused on pens with different tips. You can expand your explorations to include all sorts of drawing tools: Pencil, color pencil, chalk sticks, Artgraf’s Tailor’s chalk, NeoColors (I and II); and so on. You’ll find examples of me drawing with most of those things except chalk sticks (dust is bad for my allergies) on my blog by using a key word search.

Before I ended my series on pens and the way they change how we draw I wanted to include this sketch I made with a Sailor Fude fountain pen containing Platinum Carbon Black ink. I was working on the drawing paper contained in the Hahnemühle Travel Journal. 

That paper has a bit of drag. I chose to work on this paper with that pen on this day particular day because I wanted that drag. Sometimes I like to embrace the effort of the paper to keep me from smooth curves. I like the angled lines the paper drag forces me to draw (if I’m not going to slow down, and I’m not.)

But I also simply like to make strokes and a pattern, again because of the drag on the paper.

So sometimes we might select a pen, no so much for the look it will allow us to achieve but for the action of that pen moving along a type of paper.

We get to have fun when we sketch.

That’s a good thing to remember.

It is good to push yourself, but you always need some “fun factor.”

Something To Try

Go through your collection of pens. Pull out one of each type that you have. This weekend do as many sketches as you can with as many different pens. (Pick one type of paper to work on for the weekend.)

Take notes as soon as you finish drawing with one pen—note down how the pen tip moved along the paper you’d chosen. If you’ve already done other sketches make comparisons to the ACTION of the previous pens on this paper.

Don’t make comparisons about your results. We’re not looking at what great pictures we can make right now or what “failed.” We are looking for potentiality.We are looking for what in the feel of the pen on this paper might be something we could use and develop later.  

Continue with your tests throughout the weekend. Always being careful to make immediate notes about how the pen felt on this paper when you were working. Was it smooth, draggy, uneven, too rough to get even coverage, scratchy, etc.

Some pens you’ll be able to decide right away are not for that paper, but finish your sketch anyway, just to be sure that you don’t need a couple moments to adjust.

Next week try the same pens on a different paper and take detailed notes!!! And don’t forget to consider your default scale with each tool.

Repeat on your favorite papers.

After three weeks or more of this you’ll have real data about which pens you enjoy working with on which paper. And which pens you can do special effects with. 

You’ve just set yourself up for future successes. And fun!

  1. Reply

    I adore my new Sailor Fudes 55• & 40•. It reminds me of growing up in 50s and 60s and drawing with dip and fountain pens. Currently I’m crushing on Noodlers Walnut ink. Love your blog!

    1. Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Genie. I’m so glad that you love your Sailor Fudes. I enjoy them a lot (though the ink from that pen does tend to soak into this particular drawing paper). I was fortunate to have moved to Australia as a child and there they required you (at that time) to write with a fountain pen, no ball point pens allowed. And also there, my art teacher put a dip pen in my hand. These types of pens remain my favorite even though I end up going long times between use now and then, always because of convenience.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the Doodlers Walnut ink. I love walnut ink for sketching. Dick uses a lot of different Noodler’s Inks for his research journal (pigmented, lightfast, those types of needs). I find the ones I’ve tried have all had odors too strong for me to deal with, so I’m plenty happy with my Platinum Carbon Black ink for now.

      Have fun sketching!

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