Thursday, September 13, 2007

the thirteenth with thirteenthstory : drawing tools

At the Boston Handmade Artisan Fair last Thursday, I was asked one
question above all others: How do you make these?

And though they are all drawn by hand, the technique is a little
different for each one. Some are simpler looking pieces in black and
white with one accent color, made with diluted ink or acrylic paint
applied with a brush. Some are very detailed black and white pieces,
created through hours of small pen strokes.

One common element they all share is that they are made with the
following tools, in other words, the art supplies I cannot live

First off is the triangle. There are a lot of precise right
angles in my drawings, and this is where they come from. I prop the
triangle against the edge of the border or a ruler to make repeated
lines look nice and uniform. I've owned a triangle ever since I was a
child in school, but only as an adult have I learned how to really use
one. My favorite are ones with "inking edges" so they don't drag and
smear the wet ink when moved.

For color, I often use acrylic paint (Liquitex heavy body is my
favorite). I enjoy mixing my own colors, so I only have ever bought
red, blue, yellow, black, and white tubes. This paint is always
applied with a flat-tipped brush for quality thick and even
strokes. My alternative to using paint is to make color by adding
water to a colored ink. The giraffe piece above was made with
watered-down magenta ink, also applied with a brush. The decision for
which type of color to use is based upon how much space the color uses
in relation to how much black and white is used on the page. Its no
scientific formula, just my gut feelings on the matter.

This ruler saves me a ton of time when determining the layout
for a drawing. It has a simple "center finding" feature that
eliminates all the calculating and double-checking if things are where
they are supposed to be.

My pencil of choice is a .05 Zebra mechanical pencil, I own so
many of them that one is always close at hand. I enjoy the Zebra's
thinner barrel, built-in grip, and smooth action compared to many
other mech pencils. However I never use the eraser that comes with
them, instead I rely on the unusually precise PaperMate Tuff Stuff
eraser stick. Its made of white plastic that picks up any line,
even dark ones, with no residue or shadow left behind. When selling
original art, its important the buyer does not end up with feint
mistakes ghosting all over the page, there is no need for them to see
what might have been!

Speaking of the white page, I always work on high quality Bristol
. When using the 400 or 500 Series, you can be sure that the
pressure of drawing/erasing/re-drawing will not be evident on the
final piece. If using multiple-plied board, its even more sturdy.
Personally I like the "smooth" finish, for I find it soaks up the ink
well while retaining the rich black color. People who use paint may
prefer a more toothy finish, on which the paint can better stick.
Bristol Board is also acid free, so you know it will hold your artwork
without discoloration for a mighty long time.

Lastly are the pens themselves, which are the most expensive of my
drawing tools. The only ones I ever use are Koh-i-Noor Rapidographs.
They are technical pens that you have to fill and clean on a
regular basis. They dispense such even and precise lines, I can use
them in low light situations and know that they are okay. They come in
a variety of sizes, my collection spans from tip size .000000 to tip
size 4. I find this range covers most of what I need, and anything
larger is applied with a brush.

So when people ask me how the drawings are made, this is as close as I
can get to an answer without you sitting beside me as I draw. I hope
this article was informative, and perhaps even helpful to those of you
learning to draw.

Thanks and be well.

- Jaye of thirteenthstory

1 comment :

  1. This is a great article!! I loved reading it as I use a lot of the same tools in my work.

    Beautiful art!


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