I’m mentally gearing up for my next comics class at the Holbæk art school, and that means preparing to fend off the standard questions from students that may or may not be used to drawing comics, or drawing, full stop. One question that comes up regularly is
What pens/brushes should I use?
Here is one answer: “That depends entirely on the result you’re going for. Steel nib pens are easier to control than sable brushes, but give a less variable or fluid line. Felt tip pens are generally best suited for straight, even lines.”
The above answer is obviously wrong, as it assumes that
• there is one right tool for any intended result
• there is one right result for any intention
• there is one right way to draw
My answer is: any tool can be used to draw (by which I mean “make a picture”). I recommend you start by using what you have and hone your understanding of drawing through that. Don’t be exclusive to one tool, try different things out – but never get fixated on the end result, particularly drawing like artist X (whichever you look up to).
Once you become comfortable with a tool, and you start developing habits with it, bust it up a bit to make it unfamiliar again – or find another tool you can’t control. Make one of your own, or snap a twig off a tree.
Giving up full control of the marks you make opens up your process to chance. It’s the accidents and mistakes that you learn from. Your picture will not turn out as you expected, but imagine if it did? You would be done, and that is a terrible thing.
The key to drawing (and yes, I still mean any image making) is to draw. If you’re not drawing there will be no drawing, nothing to learn from, build upon, or be inspired by. Work, on the other hand, generates work… once you let go of the end result. Drawing is a process, an ongoing act – “I am drawing” – otherwise it would be called “drawn”.
In short, the tools you will require are:
• a pair of eyes (even half a pair will do)
• a world to observe (inner worlds also acceptable)
• anything, or combination of things, that will leave a mark (without harming you – permanently)
• something to leave the mark on, and lots of it.
See also the 5 commandments of drawing.