Drawing in oil paint on a large canvas with a brush always seemed pretty natural to me but I’ve been having a lot of trouble finding that same comfort while drawing with a pen or pencil on paper. But since I want to start drawing a comic strip, it would be pretty useful to feel good about drawing with pen on paper. I have tried Rapidograph pens numerous times throughout the years and have never been happy with the results. Robert Crumb manages to create very expressive lines with his Rapidographs – but they just don’t work for me. In fact, most pens leave me feeling like the line is dead and cold rather than being alive and expressive.
I’ve been trying to find what other comic artists prefer in pens – and was glad to find recently that there are a number of artists working with non-dip fountain pens.
Not being versed in fountain pen nib lore and culture, I thought it might help future discussions on forums or with pen sellers to have some images to illustrate my current pens and the types of drawings that I’m working on.
I bought this Rotring Fountain Pen from a local art store about ten years ago. I can’t find the model name or any information about it online. It’s all metal and has a nice weight, even if the body is a tad slim. The cap doesn’t stay posted well so I leave it off while drawing. Please leave a comment if you know anything about this pen. I would really love to at least know the model number.
Here are a few close-ups of the nib…
This little sketch is about 1 and a quarter inches tall. Still working with the black Rotring’s “M” nib. It’s difficult to get tiny detail in the eyes and shadows and hashing. The figure on the left is supposed to be holding a small toy – but when the ink started blotting and pooling I abandoned hope of making that work. I’m sure that I need a more narrow tip pen.
I later purchased this Rotring – which I believe may belong to their line of pens known as “Initial”.
This pen has a Fine (“F”) nib – but looks almost exactly like the Medium (“M”) nib on my other Rotring. If there is a difference, I’d say the Medium nib actually looks slightly smaller. This makes purchasing a new nib all the more confusing because I want a nib that writes somewhat similarly to the black pen’s medium nib while being just slightly more narrow.
The ink converter broke for this pen – and the converter in my black pen doesn’t fit well in the blue so none of the drawings in this post were made with the blue pen.
Smudging, pooling, blotting
How much the pooling is related to nib – or to ink … I don’t know. Smudging happens because the ink doesn’t dry instantly and I get careless. That’s not a big deal to me – but I do want to find a good flowing, wet ink that won’t flood out of the nib and expand the weight of the line. …it’s tough to explain and that one issue alone really deserves a separate post later.
I know the following image makes no sense. I was trying to draw several small toys but the heaviness of the line obscured any detail so I gave up trying.
I’m not unhappy with the look of the following sketch – but with my current Rotring “M” nib, this took a lot of additional care to avoid pooling too much in in the lines. This sketch, from top to bottom is not much more than 1 inch.
- So which pens and nibs would be better for drawing small scale comic strips?
- I’m mostly going to be drawing in small sketch books. I currently have two sketchbooks
- one 3.5″X 5.5″ Moleskine plain paper book
- and a “hand*book” which is 5.5″ x 5.5″
- I’m leaning towards a Pelikan m200 after hearing rave reviews from Elwood H. Smith
- And which inks would be better at producing a clear, clean, expressive line?
- I’ve been following this thread at Fountain Pen Network about re-engineering an old but well loved ink which has gone out of production.