Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First Pages from a New Sketchbook

All these drawings are scanned from book #2. Enjoy!

Nib = removable/interchangeable dip pen tip. Used for illustration and calligraphy.

Sometime awhile back I wandered into the Seattle Comicon to talk to artists about equipment and techniques. I had a long conversation with Joe Weems, about whom there is very little information on the internet. He told me that if you care about your drawings and your work you'll only use dip pens.

(the kickass G Pen)

(Maru Pen)

(Hunt 56)

I've been drawing since I was young, copying my brother (who is now a screenwriter in LA). But, as I mentioned many posts back, only these past two years have I become somewhat focused. After 11 months I finally filled up my first ever sketchbook (from which you can see random drawings in previous posts). When younger I typically drew on loose pieces of paper and scraps. Recently I bought a slightly bigger second sketch book and have been working steadily through that. I've been trying to develop further dexterity with quill style pens and black ink.

I initially started using Hunt nibs; predominately 56 (crow quill) and 102 (the smaller equivalent). I only really started with this style in order to try something new; I didn't really know anything about them. Yet I never felt natural drawing with them, however fun they were to use. Thus I relied on the Micron pens to take care of serious business and any sort of sketching. These reminded me of a "professional" bic ballpoint pen. I used to ONLY draw with bic pens when I was in grade school, middle school and high school. The 001 Micron felt natural to me, but I rip through those pens too quickly to be able to afford them; the tiny tips were good for tight parallel lines but too fragile to withstand the pressure with which I draw. For fun I started using the ultra-flexi nibs 99 in some figure drawing sessions and it seemed to be more of a natural loose sketching style, which was motivating. Trouble is I don't naturally draw in loose strokes. I have a heavy hand (which Paul says might catch up with me later).

(Hunt 56)

(Micron 001)

(Hunt 56)

In an effort to avoid constantly changing nibs (which is annoying), I scoured antique stores on the west coast for calligraphy pen handles into which you can insert the nibs and I found two. I was looking for the classic variety that has the cork grip, not like the shitty plastic black Speedball one (although I use the small brown plastic Speedball handle with the 102, and I added a rubber grip to make it a little easier to hold onto for hours at a time (I'd like to get an antique wood handle)).

(Micron 001)

(Hunt 100)

I've admired the pen work of Goseki Kojima, the Japanese illustrator who drew for the Lone Wolf and Cub series. It's amazing stuff with a lot of motion in the badass sword scenes. One thing led to another stepping into the vast internet ocean and I came across common Japanese illustration equipment. I ordered two Japanese handles and some Japanese pen nibs. They finally arrived from Japan and I tried them out not really expecting to notice any difference but I was completely blown away. The G pen especially is amazing. It's the perfect balance for the pressure with which I draw and sketchability/spontaneity. I want to order 10 more. The Maru pen is the smaller equivalent for super tight lines, but the G Pen should be good for most stuff.

I guess the point is that the Japanese know their shit. American nibs are too delicate, too sensitive. I ordered a Deleter free pen holder and the Tachikawa T-40. Both of these "free penholdes" can fit the bigger G Pen as well as the tube style, smaller Maru pen. They'll also take the bigger American Hunt nibs (56, 99, 512) but don't hold the tube nibs tight (102, 107, 108), so it looks like I have to hold onto the shitty Speedball handle...but at the same time these newe Japanese pens feel so good that I don't think I'll be turning back to Hunt anytime soon, except maybe to continue playing with the ultra flexi 99 nib.

(the packaging from one of the new handles)

**Here is an interesting article/interview conducted by Frank Miller with Kazuo Koike (author of Lone Wolf and Cub) and Goseki Kojima (illustrator).

**Check out Audrey Kawasaki's website and blog. Her paintings and drawings are amazing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Construction Paper and Animation

I made these last night from some colored construction paper, pen, and a few markers. I don't have access to a larger format scanner to capture the entire first image. Perhaps a future investment once I start paying rent somewhere again.

About a year ago, while working in the lab, I made this simple animation (below) in the wee morning hours before bed. I have a bigger story in mind, but these 20 seconds were the preliminary attempt to see whether or not I could actually do it (animate); 100% hand drawn and colored. I used free software available through the National Institute of Health to assemble each individual drawing (12/second) into a stack that can be played as a digital flip-book, in a sense. (In the lab we used the program to assemble time-lapse snapshots of developing fruit fly embryos into movies). In the near future I hope to put in a strong effort to make a few cartoon shorts. I like the format of Looney Tunes and the grotesque aspects of Ren and Stimpy. We'll see how it plays out. First things first I need to streamline the process, draw more efficiently, and figure out the wonders of PhotoShop in terms of coloring hundreds (hopefully thousands) of images.

So what you first see here is a hairball bouncing across the screen. I want to animate a sequence to appear before this of a cat who hacks up the hairball. After the "dripping faucet bird" (my idea of showing he's dumb) I will eventually have a bird hunting scene, whereby a short fat bald man hunts these birds from inside of a mechanized bird suit, driving it like a construction crane. Eventually he kills a bird with a cowboy gun and the other birds freak out and peck him to death.

As this production process continues hopefully I'll be a little more professionnel and post character designs, storyboard thumbnails and all that other good stuff I see animators posting on their blogs (which if you haven't noticed, can be accessed through the links on the right not dealing with music or climbing. Pencil Test is a good one. It shows the rough pencil sketches of classic Disney, as well as other independent animations before they are cleaned up, inked, and colored) to track how the animation develops. I have ideas for three ~2 minute cartoons, so I'll probably be working on these in a fractured and stop-start sort of fashion, but that's ok.