Cartooning pens is a question I asked fellow cartoonists about. What is their favorite pen or marker or how they create their works? On paper? Or digitally on a tablet? Here to follow are a few answers some fellow cartoonists had given me.
What Drawing Tools / Pens Are You Currently Using?
I am not a digital drawer and don’t use a tablet for creating my cartoons. I still like to sketch the pencil rough first, in order to get the lines laid out in the right look and feel for the cartoon. Once that is in place, I go over the image. I use either a Rapidograph technical pen, or a Sharpie (fine) marker. These have served the purpose well enough for me. Simple works best and I try to knock them out one after the other. I use standard photocopy paper and then scan the image using a basic Photoshop software.
That cartoon is saved in a raw PSD file into an appropriately named folder to easily retrieve it and I also save it in PNG format. If I feel the cartoon is best in color, I’ll colorize it for whatever purpose best serves it. So to recap:
#1. Pencil rough on standard photocopy paper
#2. Inked in with Rapidograph or Sharpie marker
A cartoonist from Germany provided this information
I work the same way as you do. For sketches, I’m using a Faber Castell Grip Use pencil. I do my inking with various pens – for example Rotring Tikky Graphic, Molotow Basics, Copic Multiliners, Sharpies or the Papermate Flair, just to name a few. After that I scan it and do colours and writing with Photoshop. My finished cartoons are JPG files which I upload to the agencies or send out as mail attachments.
Rotring makes great pens, no doubt. It depends on the paper. On some kinds of paper, some pens are “bleeding out.” I change the pen with the paper. But you’re right, using Rotring pens is always a good decision.
I use a hybrid process: hand sketches on standard Bristol board -> scan @150 DPI -> digitally processed using Inkscape & tablet, then export to Comic Life 3 for scripting and final framing. Klunky production, I know, but for now works well enough.
Normally I work on a cintiq but I love sitting with my sketchbook on the couch. When I do it’s a 2b pencil followed by a micron pigma pen. I use the .03 to 1.0 and sometimes use the brush pen for that loose look.
I sometimes scan direct to png transparent without much editing but if it’s a “rough” ink, I’ll clean it up in Illustrator or Autodesk Sketchbook prior to colouring.
I’ve never liked the look of pen…the line is too static and uninteresting. I started out teaching myself architectural renderings using the crow quill pen tips. LThe drawback I ran into was the occasional ink spills when my cat decided i should stop working. I used a #2 brush and watercolors when I went into cartooning full-time and enjoyed that approach for years until I started having hand cramps after long periods of work. THAT was when I switched to the Wacom tablet for both line work and color, using both Painter and Photoshop.
The Wacom Cintiq Drawing Tablet
For over a decade I’ve been using a Wacom Cintiq. There’s just nothing like it. Before that I was always experimenting with a variety of felt, dip, and fountain pens. Felt pens were either waterproof or not. If they weren’t there would be a problem of smearing if you used a gray wash or watercolor over top. The waterproof pens like Sharpies were great except if you needed to correct something. They would usually bleed through the whiteout. Dip pens would often catch and splatter. I could never master a brush the way Bill Waterson could. He mastered the thick and thin line effect. I saw one of his originals at Universal Press Syndicate’s office (now Universal U-click) and it was about 50% larger than you see in one of his books. It was old so you could see where the ink bled through the whiteout a little bit. But you could definitely tell he used a brush. Finally I settled on using a fountain pen for about 10 years. Someone gave me a Pelican one that supposedly retailed for $600 at the time. I loved how the nib was a mix of platinum and gold (that’s probably why it was so expensive). It had a lot of flex and spring to it as you applied pressure and I could get the thick and thin effect. You had to use non-waterproof ink…
Sketching Cartoons In Pencil and Scanning Into Photoshop
I still sketch my cartoons with a pencil in my sketchbook, but then I scan them in and do the inking in Illustrator and Photoshop on my Wacom tablet. I like the freedom and bold lines that digital offers, something I struggled with when I used an ink pen. Plus there’s no clean-up, no spilled ink, no ink blobs, and no more white paint to correct mistakes!
It’s always interesting to find out what tools and techniques are used by others–also serves as tips to try something new. I fall into that old fashioned group that starts with plain copy paper and a #2 pencil. Once I have everything as I want it, I trace the drawing onto smooth Bristol using copy proof blue pencil and then ink with Micron Pigma. From there, I scan into Photoshop to color. That leaves me with a permanent black and white Bristol copy and a digitized color copy. Klunky, yes, but it meets my needs. Occasionally I sketch on my Ipad using SketchBook Pro, but it feels kind of odd as I don’t get the tactile feeling that pencil and paper produce. Cartooning pens definitely vary and make up for the quality of the line art.
Cheap Mechanical Pencils Used In Conjunction With Expensive Technology
Cheap mechanical pencil for tiny roughs , then I use a cheaper eberhard faber soft nib pen to ink the finished larger toons, then scan into photoshop; finish off the detailing with my Wacom tablet.
Cartooning pens Can Still be old school
I’m old fashioned. I use a #2 pencil for my roughs, then do the final inking on the light board on smoothcoat bristol with a Speedball #6 nib, with the best India Ink I can afford. Then I scan it. I used Rapidographs when I first started because the line was even and the ink was continuous. But it didn’t have any “life.” Ever notice how many times the pencil rough ‘looks’ better than the final ink? that’s because the line has ‘life’ from the pressure your hand used drawing it. The line is thicker and thinner in spots. The same thing happens with the nib, or a brush, which I must confess, I’ve never got the hang of using. There are many professional cartoonists who are masters with a brush. Markers don’t give me that. To me, original art is worth much more than a digital print. I believe this is where cartooning pens come in!
Cartoonist drawing tools are just that…they are the tools of the trade!
Addendum: Another great article on cartoonist drawing tools.