Brush vs Pen

March 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

I consider myself more of a writer than an illustrator, and with most of my experience in film or prose, I’m new to creating comics.   When I started submitting Metamorphosis to publishers, I received some constructive criticism from an editor who said I ought to use brushes for my inking; my pen illustrations didn’t have enough of a variety of line weight.  I did some research into comic book inking and found that there’s a big debate as to whether or not inkers should use a brush (more traditional) or if inkers should use a pen (more efficient). It’s a debate practically on Mac vs. PC proportions (in the world of comics anyway).

Unscientifically, I’m concluding that most inkers use crow quills, not the brushes that the well-meaning editor suggested I use. But I also learned that in this age of Adobe, there’s no ending to the variety of inking methods that artists use. Brush gets the most respect. About a zillion webcomics are draw on the computer, so inking isn’t even a factor. Technology being what it is, inking is no longer the necessity that it used to be. An illustrator can scan in his pencils, make them darker, and work from there.  I’ve even seen tutorials on inking with vectors in Adobe Illustrator, though I don’t see that as attractive or practical.

Gene Colan’s penciled cover for Captain America #601

Of course, a great inker knows how to use both a brush and a pen.  The tool will fit the task.  The only question is, what will I use?  I like the detail I can get with a gel pen, but I can understand that it’s not what editors want to see; they want to see art.  Since I’m no Gene Colan with a pencil and I haven’t used a brush since elementary school, I’m going forward using… Mangaka pens! Similar to brush pens, but firmer, allowing for more detail, Mangaka pens seem like a good middle ground.  I’ll start posting my new pages in a few days, and we’ll see how they turned out.

Chinese Hero: Tales of the Blood Sword, inked and colored with Chinese brushes


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