Tuesday, October 31, 2017

PCL Comics Expo Announcement

Hi Nashville and Tennessee friends!  This Saturday, I'll be at the Putnam County Library for the PCL Comics Expo, part of the week long Cookeville Comic Arts Festival.  Last year, Joseph interviewed the founder, Matt Knieling, at Handmade and Bound, and I'm delighted to be able to join them this year!

We'll be in the Downstairs Meeting Room of the Cookeville public library, and you can find out more information through the Facebook Event.

Need help finding the Cookeville Public Library?  Check here for directions!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Lets Get Inky Fountain Pens: An Inktober Series

Recently we talked about dip pens in the Let's Get Inky series.  While we're on the topic of nibs, lets talk about fountain pens today.

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Inked with a Noodler's Flex, filled with Sailor Storia pigmented ink in Lion, watercolor.

Fountain pens behave very differently from dip pens, but can serve as a portable option for looks reminiscent of dip pens.  They range from under $3 (Platinum Preppy, Pilot Petit 1, Jetpens Chibi) to over $100, although the pens that are of most interest to artists, sketchers, and inkers are mostly under $50.

Once you've become familiar with fountain pens, and have found a couple that suit your needs, you'll find they're a versatile addition to your inking arsenal, and a fun hobby in its own right.

There's a huge variety of fountain pens available, but you don't need to spend a lot of money to get a great pen for inking.

Pen Vocabulary and Parts of the Pen:



Tip: Although some nibs are pointed, most have a small ball or blunted edge at the tip of the nib, referred to as the Tip.  The material used to coat this is a Tipping Material.
Ink Channel:
Tine: Most nibs have a slit that allows for ink to flow and sometimes for the nib to flex.  The metal surrounding this slit are the tines.
Shoulder: The shoulders of the nib
Breather Hole
Feed Channel

O Ring

Eye Dropper Conversion


For success with fountain pens, you need a trifecta- The Right Pen, The Right Ink, The Right Paper

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
De Atrementis Document Blue Black

The Right Pen:

Introduction to Fountain Pens for Sketching
Inking and Lettering with Fountain Pens
Recommended Inexpensive Pens To Get You Started 

For artists, the right pen is often not the grail pen of fountain pen enthusiasts.  Artists are often interested in

  • Steady inkflow
  • Interesting markmaking
  • Flexible Lineweight
  • Affordability
  • Easy maintanence

Fortunately all of the pens covered in today's post hit multiple points on that list.

Inking with Fountain Pens: Pen Overview

About Nibs:

Unlike with dip pens, fountain pen nibs are not mix and match.  While you can replace nibs, it's often with another nib from the same maker, and swapping nibs between brands is fairly uncommon.

If you're looking for a truly flexible nib, you're going to have to go vintage.  The closest you'll find on the current market are semi-flex nibs, or a fountain pen modified to take a dip pen nib.  Although you can pay big bucks for a Namiki Falcon (the enthusiasts swear by it), I think the Noodler's pens are a better fit for most artists.  If you're looking to spend a little more, Platinum's Cool is a great soft nib that has a little flex to it as well.

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Sailor Storia Magic, Inked with a Noodler's Flex

Types of Nibs: 
Italic Nibs
Oblique Nibs
Semi Flex
Flex (only available in vintage pens)

The material used to make the nib often affects the writing and inking characteristics.

Steel- Most commonly used material for inexpensive nibs.  Harder than gold, difficult to flex.
Gold- Softer, springier, far more expensive

My recommendations for artists are going to be nibs that make unique marks, like the Sailor Fude de Mannen, or inexpensive nibs with semi flex, such as the Noodler's Flex, Ahab, and Konrad.

My Favorite Pens to Ink With, in order of preference

Noodler's Ahab
Noodler's Flex
Noodler's Konrad
Platinum Cool
Modified Jinhao x750 with a G Nib
Platinum Preppy
Sailor Fude de Mannen

Noodler's Pen Comparison: Flex, Konrad, Ahab

Individual Pen Reviews:
Platinum Preppy
Noodler's Flex
Noodler's Konrad
Noodler's Ahab

Pilot Prera Demonstration: 

Platinum Carbon Desk Pen Unboxing: 

Fountain Pen Illustration Tips: 

Inking with Fountain Pens: Modified Jinhao x750:

Noodler's Ahab Field Test:

Ackermann Pen Anatomy and Review:

Ok, so maybe these semiflex pens just don't offer enough flex for you.  And vintage is so daunting- you don't know what you're looking at, looking for, or how to fix a broken vintage pen.  Fear not!  You can convert an inexpensive fountain pen, such as the Jinhao x750 to hold a G nib

Jinhao x750 Mod:

Preparing Your New Pen for First Use:

Cup clean water
Your Pen
Paper Towels

Pen Flush (I use Goulet's)

Add a couple drops of dish detergent to your cup of clean water.  Fill your pen (if it's a converter or piston type, draw the clean water through the nib+feed+filling mechanism) and expel the water multiple times.  Fill pen, allow water to sit in barrel to dissolve factory grease and solvents.   Dump water, refill with clean water (no detergent) and rinse pen multiple times.

You may opt to also soak the cap and barrel.  This is particularly recommended for eyedropper conversions.

Dry the pen thoroughly before first fill with ink- I usually let it airdry overnight, and may use a syringe to blast air through the feed to help push water out, depending on the fountain pen.

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Organics Gregor Mendal inked with a Pilot Preppy 

The Right Ink

You should NEVER used a shellac or acrylic based ink in your fountain pens, unless you want to ruin that pen.  Ideally, you would only use inks formulated for fountain pens, such as the inks listed below.  If you absolutely must use another kind of ink, do yourself a favor and use it in a pen you can part with- a Platinum Preppy is ideal for this purpose.

When exploring inks, go for ink samples before buying a bottle.  Goulet Pens and Anderson Pens carry ink samples that allow you to explore an ink, and an ink's properties, before committing.

Waterproof Inks:

Pigment Inks:
Platinum Pigment Inks- Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum Sepia, Platinum Red, Platinum Blue
Sailor Storia- Magic, Knight, Fire, Dancer, Spotlight, Lion, Crown, Balloon

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Platinum Carbon Black Ink inked with a Platinum Cool

Iron Gall Inks
Rohrer and Klinger- Scabiosa and Salix
Platinum Classic- Khaki Black, Forest Black, Citrus Black, Cassis Black, Lavender Black, Sepia Black

Irongall inks aren't entirely waterproof.  Iron Gall inks are made up of two inks- the iron gall, which turns black over time, but is initially clear or very light, and the dye, which allows us to see the iron gall, and may influence the end color.  Iron gall inks darken over time with exposure to oxygen.

Dye Based Inks:

Only a few dye based inks are truly waterproof.  I've been working my way through various inks, testing waterfastness, and have shared the results on my Channel and on Once Upon a Tine.

Noodler's Inks:
54th Massachussets
Kung Te-Cheng
La Reine Mauve

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Noodler's La Reine Mauve inked with a Jetpens Chibi

De Atrementis Document Inks:
Document Black
Document Turquoise
Document Blue
Document Red
Document Yellow
Document Fuschia
Document Brown
Document Green
Document Dark Blue

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
De Atrementis Document Red, inked with a Noodler's Flex

Noodler's Truly Waterproof Inks:

Pigment Inks:

Sailor Storia Lion and Dancer Swatches:

Putting Storia Ink To The Test with Watercolor:

Pigment Ink PSA:

Document Inks:

Waterproof Fountain Pen Inks: Documents and Pigments:

Irongall Inks:

Inking with Iron Gall- Rohrer and Klinger:

iron gall ink, fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Watercolor over Salix and Scabiosa 

Non waterproof Inks

Although not suitable for watercolor, dye based fountain pen inks can offer a lot- bold, bright colors, fluorescents, shimmer, sheen, and shade.

Special Effects Inks:
Not necessarily waterproof

Shading Inks:
Noodler's Apache Sunset
Noodler's Navajo Turquose
De Atrementis Mint Turquoise
Noodler's Black Swan in Austrailian Roses
Diamine Marine
Noodler's Lexington Gray
Noodler's Golden Brown
Noodler's Ottoman Rose
Sailor Storia Lion
J. Herbin Vert Olive

Sheening Inks:
Not necessarily waterproof

Diamine Majestic Blue
Diamone Sherwood Green
J Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chibor
J Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite
J Herbin 1670 Stormy Gray
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji
Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

Rohrer & Klinger Alt- Goldgrun

Shimmer Inks: 
Not Waterproof

Diamine Shimmertastic Inks
J Herbin 1670 Inks

The Ahab Mermaid Timelapse: 

Tips and Tricks:

Platinum Preppy Eyedropper Conversion:

Watercolor Effects From Your Fountain Pen:

Easy Inkwash Hack:

The Right Paper

When it comes to fountain pen success, not all papers are made equally.  There are papers designed especially for use with fountain pens, but those papers aren't necessarily the ones that appeal or are useful to artists.  And many papers that artists prefer do not work well with fountain pens.

Basically, smooth, coated papers tend to do well with fountain pens, but may take awhile to dry.

Tracing Paper
Borden and Riley Bleedproof Pen Paper
Strathmore 500 Series Plate Bristol

Watercolor Papers:
Cellulose watercolor papers work best

fountain pen art, waterproof fountain pen ink, inking with a fountain pen, inktober
Platinum Pigment Blue inked with a Noodler's Konrad

Fluid EZ Block
Maruman/Holbein Mixed Media Sketchbook
Stillman and Bern Beta

Common Favorites in the Fountain Pen Community
Tomoe River Paper
Rhodia Paper

Pen Care and Cleaning

Ink can evaporate out of your pen's barrel, so if you aren't going to use a pen for a long period of time, you should clean your pen thorougly.  You can use the same methods used for preparing a pen for first use, or you can use a pen flush.  I've found that Goulet's Pen flush is ideal- the bottle allows me to dose out small amounts, the complimentary sample vial allows me to soak nibs in a minimal amount of pen flush, and I can store used pen flush for reuse.

Although you can use rubbing alcohol to clean dip pen nibs, do NOT use it to clean your fountain pens- rubbing alcohol can ruin your pens, especially resin pens.

Helpful Pen Maintenance Information
FP 101- Pen Maintanence
7 Biggest Mistakes Fountain Pen Mistakes
FP 101- Fast Pen Flushing
How to Clean the Body and Cap of a Fountain Pen

More from Me
Fountain Pen Playlist on Youtube
Once Upon a Tine

Great Outside Resources:

Goulet Pens Youtube
Goulet Pens Blog
Goulet Pens- Education
Fountain Pen Network

Outside Resources and Second Opinions: 

Guide to Fountain Pen Nibs- Choosing a Fountain Pen Nib
Nibs 1: The Basics
The Pen Habit
Gourmet Pens
FPN: First Stop
FPN: Of Nibs and Tines

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Lets Get Inky with Nibs: An Inktober Series

Inking with a nib might seem intimidating, but it only takes a little practice to get a hang for the basics.  Nib inking is commonly referred to as dip pen inking, and is seeing a resurgence in popularity, especially among letterers.  There's a great deal of appeal for comic artists as well, and dip pens are still very popular in Japan, although not quite as popular here in the West.

Inking with a dip pen or nib pen takes a great deal of patience, but offers more control than brush inking.  Nibs can be quite affordable, but are commonly sold in sets- often with nibs you won't need.  I recommend you find a store that offers nibs open stock, such as Paper and Ink Arts- this will allow you to sample a variety of nibs without purchasing sets. 

Robust Inking Toolkit Guide for Professional Artists

Inking with a nib is very much about personal preference.  First off, you may not enjoy it at all, preferring brushes, brush pens, or technical pens to nibs.  Secondly, you might enjoy the act of inking with a nib, but hate the maintenance that nibs require.  Thirdly, you may discover that you prefer some nibs to others, so I recommend you experiment widely.  Even amongst nib types, there are certain brands that work better than others.

Main Categories of Nibs


Maru (map)

G Nib

Spoon (turnip, globe, Saji, Kabura)


Fixed Width:



A, B, C, D


Generally refers to monoline/fixed width nibs such as A, B, C, and D

Terms You May Hear:

Pointed Pen
In this post, Pointed Pen nibs have been referred to mainly as 'flexible' nibs.  Pointed refers to the tip of the nib, which often comes for a point and takes advantage of twin tines flexing to release ink.  These nibs were originally designed for correspondence and calligraphy.  Originally used for copperplate.

In this post, Monoline has been referred to as Fixed Width.  These are nibs that only make one lineweight- A, B, C, D and tape nibs fall into this category.  These nibs are not designed to flex, and additional pressure may ruin the nib.

Although artists will use pointed pen nibs and monoline nibs for art, originally, artists used drawing nibs.  These nibs were originally designed for drawing and sketching and are capable of very fine lines.

Mapping nibs were originally designed for cartography.  These nibs have very fine points and are similar to crowquill nibs.

Music nibs come in two varieties- a three tined nib suitable for drawing the staff, and 5 pronged nibs for drawing the signature.

Scroll nibs feature two points, and are used for decorative scrollwork or special effects.

Popular Brands:

Common Brands:

My Favorite Nibs:
Tachikawa G Nib
Brause Rose
Kuretake Saji
Tachikawa Tank
Brause Steno

For a wonderful introduction to inking with nibs, please check out this post- Inking Basics- Nibs!

Nibs for Borders:

Nibs for Lettering (these are generally Fixed Weight Nibs)
Speedball A, B, C, D

Nibs for Varied Lineweight Cartooning
Brause Rose (originally used for hand written correspondence)
Brause Steno (originally used for handwritten notes)
Tachikawa or Zebra G or Student Nibs
Spoon and Globe Nibs

Manga Nibs
Kuretake Saji
Zebra and Tachikawa G and Student Nibs
Deleter Maru nibs

For an overview of various types of nibs with detailed photos, check out this post- In The Inking Supply Box 

Inking Tutorials 

Manga Nib Demonstration

Nib Exposure

Inking with a Manga Nib- Kuretake Saji Demonstration

Inking Your Character To Life With a Nib

Inktober Saji Nib Timelapse:

Inktober G Nib Timelapse:

Inks to Use with Dip Pens

Acrylic Inks:

Sumi Inks
Kuretake - Regular- Cartoonist
Moon Palace

Deleter Inks
Deleter 1- Semi gloss finish, suitable for use with alcohol markers
Deleter 2- Quick drying time, alcohol marker proof
Deleter 3- Waterproof, matte finish
Deleter 4- Darkest ink, waterproof
Deleter 5- Indian style ink.  Waterproof.
Deleter 6- Indian Ink Style.  Fast Drying.  Waterproof.

Kaimei Sol K- Alcohol marker proof.

Indian Inks- available in waterproof and non waterproof
Dr PH Martin's Bombay Inks (available in a variety of colors)- waterproof when dry
Winsor and Newton- Not Waterproof

Liquid Watercolors
Dr PH Martin's Radiant Concentrated Watercolors

Fountain Pen Inks
Pigment Based- Waterproof:
Platinum- Carbon Black, Rose Red, Sepia, Blue 
Sailor Storia Inks

Dye Based- Generally Non Waterproof: 
J Herbin
Noodler's Inks

For more ink compatibility tests, check out Once Upon a Tine

Walnut Ink

This can be prepared at home by collecting walnuts, purchased as crystals, or purchased as a ready made ink.

Walnut ink is an ink made from the green husk surrounding the nut of walnuts. The Black Walnut Juglans nigra is usually used. The ink may be liquid or made of crystals that are mixed with water before use. It can be used to produce stains and darken paper to make it look older.

Iron Gall Ink

Iron gall ink (also known as iron gall nut ink, oak gall ink, and common ink) is a purple-black or brown-black ink made from iron salts and tannic acids from vegetable sources.

Please note that Iron Gall Ink can be highly destructive to papers and nibs, due to acid content.


How to use watercolors with dip pens

Finetec Watercolors

Gold/Metallic Inks
Gold and Silver Mica Ink
Winsor and Newton Gold Ink
Winsor and Newton Silver Ink

Creating Colored Lineart wtih Nibs

G Nib Inking with FW Acrylic Pearlescent Moon Violet 

Inking with Pearlescent Black

Inking with Waterfall Green

J Herbin Ink Swatches

Nib Holders:

Types of Holders


Used for calligraphy


Used for calligraphy, sketching, and inking

Brands of Holders:


Recommended Nib Holders:


Papers to Ink On

Strathmore 400 and 500 series- plate
Strathmore 400 and 500 series- vellum
Illustration board
Hotpress watercolor paper

Terms to Know

Tank- A small reservoir attached to the nib to increase ink capacity.
Cage- A spring welded onto the nib to increase ink capacity.  Ink sticks to the spring, allowing the nib to hold more ink.

Other Types of Dip Pens


Handmade Folded Pen Unboxing and Demonstration:


Reed Pen Size Breakdown:


Paper and Ink Arts Haul:

Recommended Additional Materials

Tips and Tricks

With cheaply made nibs, excessive force can cause the nib to shatter.  Hunt nibs are particularly prone to this.

New nibs have been coated with oil to prevent rusting.  You can remove this in a number of ways:

  • Burning the oil off with a lighter (may cause nib discolouration)
  • Wiping the oil off with an alcohol wipe
  • Washing your nibs in a dish of water and dishsoap before first use

For more information about Nib Care, check out this post-Brush and Nib Care.

Excessive force can cause nibs, even high quality nibs, to 'nip' and tear at the paper

Nib Reviews:

Student Art Nib Set

Outside Reviews: 

The Well Appointed Desk- Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen

Gourmet Pens- Review: Brause Dip Pen Set
Parka Blogs: Review: Speedball Sketching Project Set

The Desk of Lori: Pen Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen

Second Opinions and Outside Resources
Deleter Ink Difference
Difference of Deleter Nibs
Dip Nib Guide
Wikipedia: Walnut Ink
Making A Walnut Ink
Wikipedia: Iron Gall Ink
The Iron Gall Ink Website
The Postman's Knock- How To Use Watercolors With Dip Pens
The Postman's Knock- Watercolor Calligraphy Tutorial
The Postman's Knock- How to Know When a Calligraphy Nib is Done
How to Use the Finetec Palette
Which Calligraphy Nibs To Use and Why
Common Calligraphy Ink Problems + How To Solve Them
How To Prepare New Calligraphy Nibs for Use
Getting to Know the Brause Rose Nib
5 Tips for Maintaining Your Calligraphy Nibs
Six Tips for Taming Calligraphy Nibs
Richmond Illustration Inc- Inking Tutorial Part 1
Jackson's- A Guide To Dip Pens and Drawing Ink
Jetpens-How to Use Manga Nibs
The Lowdown on Calligraphy Nibs

Monday, October 23, 2017

Guest Post: Kabocha's Screentone Walkthrough

Hello, and welcome again, to another walkthrough by kabocha!

So, what is screentone?

My good buddy Loom goes over what screentones are and a bit about their history in this tutorial.  If you’re curious, give it a read!

But to be brief, screentones are patterns are basically dot patterns meant to provide textures, values, or other things.  They’re not limited to manga or OEL stuff, but that’s where one will find them nowadays.

If you’re interested in the technical aspects of screentones (what DO the numbers mean?), maybe you ought to check out Loom’s tutorials, as she covers high-res and low-res, as well as information on moire and overlays and using them to your advantage.

ANYWAY.  How do we go from linework to a toned illustration?  Welp.


First things first -- YES, I am working in Clip Studio Paint. While I’ll be referring to specific tools in this application, the general process can be applied basically anywhere you have digital tones available. (Traditional toning?  Little bit of a different beast, and I cleared out my traditional tones in 2015.)
First things first, when you do your lineart, try and make sure your linework is generally closed,as if you’re going to begin flatting.  This was about as good as I was going to get for the time being.

Basic Fills

So, you know how in Loom’s tutorials, “value” is mentioned?  It comes into play here.

Think of screentoning as being like coloring in greyscale; you know where your darks and your lights should be.

In this case, I know one character’s hair is near-black, so I’m just going to go ahead and imply that with some black fills, with highlight areas erased.
I’ve gone over this technique in the past, with both near-black hair and a character who has brownish hair.  You can repeat this process if you want to combine spot blacks for shadowing as well!

I added tone to make it clear his hair isn’t shiny black.
In this case, I chose 60L/40% as my screentone of choice, which translates to something like 60 lines per inch at 40% value.  The 60 line choice is pretty much my own preference, but 40% is fairly dark, fitting my purposes.

Now that we’ve got the darkest area of the image done, let’s move on to something else.

This time, I selected the entire area of the shirt, which would be kind of… a light brown or grey.  So a much lighter tone is needed.  This time, I went with something with a lower line count (50L) because 60L would produce something that looks slightly more saturated.

Next up, the bow!  What color would you expect it to be?  Usually I use fairly saturated (but not necessarily bright) red for this character.


I decided to re-use the 60L/40% tone -- though without any spot blacks, it looks much lighter in comparison to the hair I previously used it on.

You can repeat this sort of process through your illustration to see what all you can create.

Dots vs Noise

It’s important to note that even if you have two types of tones with the same saturation, the TYPE of tone will make a difference in its appearance.  For example, here we have a “dot” tone and a “noise” tone.

These produce different types of textures, and are worth playing with!  They also will resize differently as well.



Workspace aside -- many applications offer gradiated screentones!  Usually they come in two types of gradients -- Radial and Linear.

These are especially good for… Well, expressing gradients.  Dark to light, burnt to not-burnt, and so on.

In this case, I used a circular gradient as a fill for the pie crust, as it seemed most fitting.


There are also cases where you can use Gradients for shading -- as seen here:

Gradient shading isn’t new, but always worth looking at here and there.

Tone Erasing

Now that we have some areas laid out with screentone, one might realize… Well, I want to erase things, but I want it to be soft-shaded -- how do I accomplish that?

Back in the day, you’d grab a rough eraser, or use an knife to scrape your tones.

Digitally, there’s a myriad of ways to do this, and it will vary based on your program.

I made a Tone Erase brush in Clip Studio Paint, or you could use use the existing Tone Scraping airbrush (which puts down tone).  If you use either of these in conjunction with layer masks, you can accomplish some pretty neat things.

Yes, sometime in-between the gradient and the erasing, I added another flat tone.

In Photoshop, you can make your own tone eraser by using the Pencil toolpencil.png and using white over your screentone, or by setting your eraser mode to Pencil.  Once you do this, open up your Brush window (F5), and play with the settings pictured below.  Your preferences may vary, so you should experiment!


Finishing touches

And finally, now that we have the tone laid out, we can start doing things like adding shading and such. When laying down my tone, I’m going to use the tone eraser to accomplish a more soft-shaded look.

For this, I chose 75L/5% instead of another 60L tone.


This allows me to exploit moire when layering it on top of another toned area.

In the process of toning, I also repeated the process on the bow and in various other places to help add depth.  This typically isn’t necessary, but can help!

Afterward, I added some tone to the background, as well as text, to produce the finished image!


If you’re like me, and can’t get enough screentone, you can find a myriad of resources on Clip Studio Paint’s assets website.  If you search their official account, you can find some awesome goodies!

Wanna see more of my screentone nonsense?  Check me out on deviantArt, or read my manga-styled webcomic, Linked!