Art, Review

Inktober Part 3: And Pen Reviews

I closed out Inktober on somewhat of a weak note, since I was busy and not really ‘feeling it’ for the last week. However, I did manage to draw every day of the month, and produced some work I’m proud of. It’s a great exercise, to practice every day and do some things that are outside your comfort zone to add to your repertoire. I’m still drawing and painting, but not every day… ok, every day of November so far! but I don’t expect to keep that up, I’m not making it a priority. I didn’t write yesterday, because around noon I retreated to the dark to nurse a migraine. I no longer get them as often or badly as I once did, but it’s still no fun, and I couldn’t write through it. 

I wanted to do a review of my favorite tools from this month – I’d splurged and bought a few new things to play with, so I had some good and some bad. Well, disappointing, anyway. 

One of the things I did over the course of the month was decide I needed a better way to store and carry my tools, and you’ll see the two main things I did above: roll-ups. They can go in my battered canvas bag and be switched out depending on what I’m planning for the day. I was doing a lot of Inktober at lunch, so having everything at hand was important. The big canvas one is huge, nearly three feet long when unrolled. It will hold 72 pencils, or in my case, 24 colored pencils, 24 watercolor brush pens, and some other assorted doo-dads like aqua brushes and such. As you can imagine, it’s a bit bulky when that’s all rolled up, although I can still fit it in my bag (and you wonder why the First Reader teases me about the bag?). The smaller leather one is real leather (goat) and that’s not easy to find when most of the pencil rolls are PU leather which seems to be closely related to the hide of the Naugas. It’s a classic and classy one I can throw in my purse and pull out in public with no shame. 

My Faber-Castell pens are almost all dry (or lost) so I bought a set of the Sakura Microns in black – I already have one in sepia, and they are great little workhorses of pens for drawing and inking the fine lines. I have brush pens (more about those in a minute) so I just wanted the hard tipped line pens. These I would consider a basic essential in any kit, they dry quikly and are waterproof for using with the watercolor pens, but would likely not work with alcohol markers. 

Brush pens: I have been in love with the nylon-bristle brush pens from Japan for almost a year now. They offer an incredible range of expression in line art, and if I can only carry one pen, it will be one of these. I can do almost anything with them. The Copic Gasenfude was recommended, and I’ve heard good things about Copic, but unfortunately my experience with this pen was not promising. It smudged and smeared and was not waterproof. My Pentel and Kuretake are both water-based, so I was thinking an alcohol based brush pen would be nice for working with adding color, but this pen is not that. I was disappointed, and will be replacing my Kuretake if I can’t refill it (in theory you can, but I haven’t yet tried!). 

The Zig brush pens I bought… back in August, it looks like, but I wanted to mention them. I bought a small set of 6, because they aren’t cheap, but man… these things are vivid! They are a watercolor brush pen, with nylon bristles so they behave just like a paintbrush, which is my happy place with art these days. Pairing them up with an aquabrush gives me some real painting looks on the go. I only wish I had a brown one. I’d say I was going to buy more, but… 

The Akashiya Sai brushes are the new workhorses of my color kit. More muted colors than the Zig, these watercolor brush pens give me the ability to blend with the aquabrushes and achieve some lovely effects, even when sick in bed. I know, I’ve tested that! The pens are not refillable, but that’s ok, they are worth buying again, and I will. I’ll be using them extensively during Huevember as I paint daily. 

Lastly, I got some little things to flesh out my kits – throwbacks to the years in highschool when I was a serious student of drafting. This set of french curves and stencils is too large (mostly) to throw in the travel kits, but great for things like honeycomb or just tidying up my linework. This is a tiny version of my mother’s architect’s rule I loved back then, but small enough to slide into the pencil roll. It’s so cute! And the compass-thing (Helix angle and circle maker), well, this is just so much fun. I used it to make the bubbles earlier in the month, and for a few other things, too. The big disappointment of the month were the white Sakura Gelly Roll pens. They do not do a good job of highlighting on top of existing pigment, and yellow as they dry from bright white. I won’t be using them, I’m sure the kids will have fun with dark paper and them.  I have a set of Uni Ball Signos that includes a white which works well, I’ll have to pick up one or two more of those instead. 

Oh, right, almost forgot: the bottle in the picture is Chinese student ink. It’s a liquid ink, smells sooty, and works in dilution with water on a brush like magic. You’ll see in some of the details on the cat in Watching and Waiting and the asteroids in Asteroid Field what it does wet-on-wet with different dilutions. I love this stuff, but it’s messy and I rarely have the time or space to work with it properly. Which is sad, but some day I’ll have a studio. Maybe! Hah. 

4 thoughts on “Inktober Part 3: And Pen Reviews

  1. Second your recommendation on the Sakura Microns. They’re also good detail pens on fabric, and I like being able to combine them with the Derwent Inktense blocks and pencils to spice up fabric printed on my Epson.

  2. Yup. Any printer with a straight paper path will work; I prefer the Epson because it uses pigment-based inks, which are washfast and require no special treatment of the fabric.

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