My tools of the trade for drawing with pen and ink
This goes with my post on producing pen and ink drawings. I’ve been asked what kind of pens I use, and I thought I would show all the tools I use.
This first photo is of my mini-studio that is set-up in a corner of my house. One of the reasons I started doing pen and ink drawings was that I needed a minimal amount of space to work in.
The desk set-up consists of a home-made light table bolted to an adjustable-angle drawing table I picked up at a garage sale. The lamp is an old Flexo swing-arm fluorescent lamp I picked up on the cheap and refurbished.
This photo shows my complete kit for pen and ink drawing. Everything fits in two small wooden drawers I salvaged from an old oak machinist’s chest. Did I mention that another reason I do pen and ink is because I need minimal artist’s materials?
Here are my tools for the preliminary drawings: a .3mm mechanical pencil with B lead for drawing on tracing paper, another 3mm pencil with H lead for transferring the drawing from tracing paper to drawing paper, and a ruler. I also have a couple of 18″ rulers that Use for establishing perspective, etc. I use mechanical pencil with retractable tips since I am always dropping them and one bounce on the floor can bend the tip. (The ones I use are Pentel Graph Gear 1000 pencils.) Better to get into the habit of always retracting the tip when I leave the drawing table.
I use pigmented fiber-tipped pens. My brand of choice is Sakura Pigma Micron. I have tried other brands, but always end up coming back to Pigma. I’ve used Pigma pens for over 20 years and the drawings I did back in the 90s still show no signs of fading. I use pens with 005 tips. The fiber tips wear down with use. One pen will last me for two to three drawings. I keep the pens with worn tips for stippling.
Magnifying glass–absolutely essential for my drawings. The average size for one of my drawings is 7″ x 10″, and many are 5″ x 7′ or smaller.
My ink eradication tools. If I made a mistake or change my mind, it is possible to “erase” the ink and then re-ink that part of the drawing. A good ink eraser may be enough if the ink lines are light. The next step would be sandpaper–such as from a sandpaper pencil sharpener. I just tear off a partial sheet, fold it up and then lightly sand the inked area. For heavy action I use a fine-tipped X-acto knife to scrape away the ink layer. (This is all predicated on using high-quality thick paper that can take a lot of punishment.) After the ink is vanquished I’ll erase the affected area with a gum eraser and then burnish the paper to flatten the fibers. My burnisher of choice is an old Letraset spoon-shaped burnisher. Once the area is burnished I can usually go back in and re-ink.
I clean up the finished drawing by going over it with a gum eraser to get rid of pencil lines, followed by a powdered gum eraser to remove smudges.