Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cartooning on a budget

Believe it or not, you can draw comics on a 13$ ream of 8.5x11" computer paper with pencils stolen from golf courses and Sharpie markers. A good artist is not determined by the cost of his tools, but the value of his ideas and the clarity of his line. The great thing about comics is, it can be infinitely cheap, or infinitely expensive, what you spend is up to you. However, having certain tools definitely makes it easier to work, but with so much selection and so many opinions, it can be hard to pare it down to the essentials. Fortunately, I made the mistakes for you, and can recommend supplies for the comic artist on a budget.

ESSENTIAL:
Paper- I work on 11"x17" 500 series Bristol, both Plate (inking) and Vellum (has grit, for pencilling). There is no reason why you should feel compelled to work at that size, or even on the 500 series. Strathmore's 300 series Bristol is a great introduction to comic Bristol, and smooth is a great finish for both pencils and inks. I personally like working at the larger size, scanning, and reducing down, but working at a larger size requires a larger scanner, and those can be very expensive. If you feel comfortable working at 8.5"x11", you can cut the 11"x17" pages in half, and make it stretch twice as far. When cutting art paper, I recommend AGAINST using scissors. I cut my paper using an Exacto blade, a ruler, and a self healing cutting mat, but you can use the back of the pad (the cardboard side) as your cutting surface. Please always use protection between your paper and your table when cutting, you do not want to damage your table or your knife.
Image via dickblick.com

Pencils- I use two mechanical pencils- one with B graphite and one with non-photo blue lead. For larger pieces, I use Mono brand traditional wooden pencils. I highly recommend non-photo blue pencils, which are available in a variety of media- mechanical pencil leads, lead holder leads, and pencils. Some of my professors recommend against mechanical pencils for drawing, they say that it kills the dynamism. I stick with them because they are convienant and because I'm used to them.

Sketchbook- Buy a sketchbook that you will use, not one that looks attractive or looks like something an artist will use. Strathmore makes a variety of decent sketchbooks, and I have no qualms about filling them up with terrible drawings- that's what they are intended for.

Inking Supplies-
Tech Pens
Decent- Sakura Microns- Fairly cheap and easy to find at craft stores like Michaels.  I highly recommend against buying the brush, it doesn't act like one at all.
Image via www.dicblick.com

Good- Copic Multiliner- Often sold at art stores.
Image via www.dickblick.com

Better- Copic Multiliner SP- Fairly expensive, non disposable. You can replace the nibs and the inks.
Image via www.dickblick.com

Best- Rapidographs- I've never used these personally.  They are nondisposable, refillable, and do require maintanance. 

Brushes- The ones worth using are generally fairly expensive, and it's hard to pick out a good one in person, impossible to do so online.
Nibs- These are something you'll just have to experiment with. They are non essential for a beginner set.
Inks- Bombay ink is a favorite, but I also like Acrylic based ink as well. Be careful if you like to ink and marker, some markers will dissolve the ink, making a muddy mess.
Image via www.dickblick.com
Image via www.dickblick.com

Corrections-
White gel pens- I highly recommend the Signo. Sometimes spending a little more saves you a lot of effort in the long run.
Image via www.jetpens.com

Ph Martin's Bleed Proof White- is good, but I much prefer a tube of white gouache.
Essential-Pentel Pocket Brush- It's cheap, easy to find, and gives great results. The ink is a little thin, but if you're patient, you can replace it with your own ink.
Image via www.jetpens.com

Rulers-
A good ruler is essential. I recommend a decent cork backed metal ruler that's at least 24".  A good ruler will outlast its artist, so consider investing.  I use an Alumicutter (I have a 36" and a 24", but the 24" is my go anywhere mainstay)

Erasers-
White Mono eraser or a white plastic eraser that gives you the results you desire.  Pentel Hi-Polymer erasers were my go-to before I found Mono erasers.

A lapboard to work on the go
A pencil pouch to store your supplies.
You absolutely need:
A clean workspace with adequate room.
Good lighting to work in
A safe place to store your work.
Internet Access
The Andrew Loomis Drawing Books (downloadable free here)

If you enjoy working digitally:
Bamboo Tablet

Scanner
Printer
Paint Tool Sai (sixty bucks)


If you have no desire to handletter- Blambot has several nice free fonts. Please read the terms of use first.
A free online gallery like Deviantart or a sketchblog using a service like Google's Blogger.
 Consider joining the Concept Art.  Even if you never post, you will learn a lot by lurking.

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.