this northern boy

Illustrations for an imaginary age

Tag: art materials

His Art Materials – 2019 update

I get asked a lot about what art materials I use for my drawings and illustrations. So here’s a blog post showing exactly what I have scattered around on my desk right now. If you aren’t familiar with the kind of stuff I draw, have a browse though the blog, or have a look at my work on Instagram or Facebook.

But first…

A good pencil won’t make you any better at drawing than that rubbish one you have in your pocket from a recent trip to Ikea. An expensive brush won’t instantly turn you in to the worlds best watercolourist. That watercolour pad you splashed out on, you know the one – hand made, 100% cotton, acid-free, cold pressed – isn’t going to make your drawings and paintings any better than if you were drawing on a Post-It note – unless you practice, unless you draw and draw and draw. New art materials are great, but they aren’t a short cut to being great at art, because there isn’t a short cut to being great at art. You just have to draw. Draw the stuff you love, draw the things you find difficult, set yourself some challenges, but most importantly just bloody well draw.

Now to the inky, graphitey stuff…

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Pencils (from top to bottom)

Staedtler Tradition, from 3H to 3B

Staedtler Mars Lumograph, 3H and 3B

Palomino Blackwing 602, not sure of the hardness – maybe a B?

Faber-Castell 9000, HB and 2B

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Mechanical Pencil

Pentel Graphgear 1000 0.7mm By far my favourite mechanical pencil to use.

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Technical Pens

Copic Multiliner SP, 0.03 to 0.7 thickness nibs (my favourite technical pens)

Rotring Tikky Graphic, 0.3 to 0.7

Staedtler Pigment Liner, 0.05 to 0.8

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Brush Pens and Nib Pens

Carbon Platinum

Kuretake Nib Holder and Kuretake G Pen nib

Pentel Pocket Brush

Kuretake No 8 Brush Pen

 

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Coloured Pens

Copic Ciao Markers (lots of them, particularly orange ones)

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Miscellaneous Pens

Edding Gold Paint Marker

Stabilo Point 88 Fineliner

Sharpie Twin Tip Marker

Sakura Gelly Roll Glaze Pen (opaque white)

Lamy Scribble Mechanical Pencil

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Bits and Pieces

Swann Morton Scalpel Blades, 10A

Swann Morton Scalpel

Steel Rule

Faber-Castell Eraser

Faber-Castell Sharpener

Cheap brush for clearing loose graphite or eraser bits

Toothbrush (an old one) for splattering paint or masking fluid

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Bottled Things

Higgins Black Magic Waterproof Ink

Kuretake Sumi Ink

Winsor & Newton Masking Fluid

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Paper

Goldline A3 Layout Pad (the big yellow one)

Daler Rowney A4 Tracing Pad (the grey one)

Daler Rowney A4 Smooth Heavy Weight Cartridge Pad (the pink one)

Daler Rowney A4 Bristol Board (the green one)

Daler Rowney A4 Fine Grain Heavy Weight Cartridge Pad (the brown one)

And also

A3 Minisun LED Lightbox – essential for tracing and refining sketches

Life-size human skull model – reference to die for

Caveat

As I said before, nothing on this blog post will make you draw any better, that’s up to you. Now, stop reading, and draw!

 

You can find prints of my work here

I also have a Patreon page

And you can find more of my work online…
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Instagram
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Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

FAQs

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I get quite a lot of comments on my posts on social media, and often people are asking me the same questions, so I thought I may as well answer a few of them here.

“Where can I find more of your work?”

I post regularly on social media, so find more of my illustrations on –
Instagram
Facebook
Tumblr
Twitter
Artstation

“Do you have a Patreon?”

Yes I do. On my Patreon page I’ll be building more of my Weird Field World of spaceships and alien technology. I’ll regularly post sketches, finishes illustrations, maps and charts, and even some written fiction. Supporting me gives you access to unseen work and gives you the opportunity to buy original art before anyone else, and also the chance to get involved with the world building of my Weird Field universe.

“What pen do you use?”

This is the question I get asked more than any other, and I know other illustrators get it a lot too. The first thing to say is – it isn’t about the pen. Yes you might get a bit of a difference in quality of line from pen to pen, obviously a brush pen gets you a different look to a pigment liner, but the pen doesn’t make you any better at drawing. The only way to get better at drawing – is to draw.

However, if you’re interested in the geekery of pens:

Copic Multiliner – 0.03 to 0.7 nibs
Rotring Tikky – 0.3 to 0.7 nibs
Pentel Pocket Brush
Kuretake No8 Brush Pen
Stabilo Point 88

Blackwing 602 pencil
Tombow Mono100 pencil
Steadtler Tradition HB pencil
Rotring Tikky mechanical pencil
Lamy Scribble mechanical pencil

Platinum Carbon fountain pen
Kuretake Zig Manga dip pen

Uni Posca White pen
Sharpies

Other kit…
Minisun A3 Lightbox

Sumi Ink 60
Winsor & Newton Masking Fluid
Daler Rowney A4 Cartridge paper
Moleskine A5 Sketchbook

“Where did you learn to draw?”

I was always the kid that drew, from as far back as I remember I was always drawing. When I was a little kid I used to sit in an armchair at home with a bit of wood across the arms, like a desk. I’d sit there and draw spaceships and monsters and dinosaurs and dragons for hours. Throughout all my school years, despite studying art, I don’t really recall being taught anything at all. Even at college (studying for a graphic design degree) I don’t think I got much in the way of tutoring. After college I barely drew at all for twenty years, since then all my progress has been through practice, and being inspired by all the great artists doing great work out there. One thing that has definitely helped since I started drawing again, has been daily drawing projects. For a whole year I drew a robot every day, and I’ve also taken part in the Inktober initiative for the last few years. Committing to drawing every day, even if it’s only for five or ten minutes, is a fantastic way to improve.

“Where do you get your ideas?”

Where aren’t there ideas? If you read books or comics, if you watch TV or film, if you look out of your window at home or school or work – there are ideas everywhere. You just have to look and let everything soak in. I get inspired by all kinds of things – looking at industrial buildings from the window of my train commute, the weird old oak trees in the park near my house. Films and books are a big influence – I’ve always been a sci-fi nerd so in my work you can see bits of Ralph McQuarrie, Jim Burns, Carlos Ezquerra, Cam KennedyJean Giraud and Enki Bilal.

“Why don’t you do a book?”

I’m working on a book. Slowly. It’ll be written and illustrated by me. Currently it’s about 75% written, but I’ve barely started thinking about the illustrations yet. So, nothing will be out for a while. There will definitely be a book at some point. And it will be about trolls. I have worked on illustrations for a couple of other books –  Build! A Knight’s Castle, and The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines (of which you can read more about here).

You can also find my work in Beginners Guide to Sketching: Robots, Vehicles and Sci-Fi ConceptsSketching From The Imagination: Sci-Fi, and Issue 2 of the brilliant Graphite Magazine.

“Where can I buy your work?”

You can buy prints of my work here. My good friend Jon Elliman runs Ellipress and has an amazing eye for detail and makes sure my prints look great.

If you would like to own some original artwork drop me a message on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and let me know what you are interested in. There’s a little more information here.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

August blogfest – day 27

A few days ago I blogged about a couple of the pens on my desk at the moment (out of many dozen) and I promised another post on the same topic.

I’ve been using a couple of brush pens quite a bit recently, swapping between the two and comparing them. The first is the Pentel Pocket Brush, a cartridge based brush pen, with synthetic bristles. It’s quite a short pen, almost like an old fashioned fountain pen with a fat body. This does make it pretty comfortable to hold, and it’s a pen that feels good in your hand. The other pen I’ve been using is a Kuretake Fude Brush Pen No 8. Again this is a cartridge based pen with nylon bristles. It’s a slightly shorter brush than the Pentel, which makes it seem a little firmer to me and easier to control. The Kuretake has a much longer body than its rival, perhaps symbolic of Kuretake’s history of producing traditional Japanese Sumi brushes. For me the Kuretake is slightly better balanced, but it’s so close between the two pens it’s really whichever suits you.

In terms of ink there’s little to choose. Both pens have a good, deep, opaque black which covers really well. The Kuretake might be a hint warmer in colour, the Pentel drying to a slightly blue-black.

For me the one area where the Kuretake really wins is ink flow. It’s really easy to draw a fine and steady line of continuous ink with the No 8, whereas, for me, the Pocket Brush just tends to dry up or drag a little. If you like your brush strokes to have more character then you might actually prefer the Pentel for that reason.

Pens

Kuretake No 8 – top, Pentel Pocket Brush – bottom.

The other pen I’ve slightly fallen in love with recently, and it couldn’t be more different, is the Uni Posca PC-1MR white marker. Working predominantly in black ink on white paper, finding a decent white pen has proved really tricky. Recommendations have been found wanting on many occasions. White hybrid gel pens, Sakura Glaze pens – all a bit rubbish. What you need in a white pen, over pretty much everything else, is opacity. That’s what the Posca gives you in spades. I love it.

Posca

August blogfest – day 23

Books and pens

Books and pens

I’ve become a bit of a pen nerd recently. Well, I say recently, over the last couple of years. Tiger Pens, Cult Pens, and Amazon have been seeing way too much business from me. But, pens are the way I make my living, so it’s only fair that I indulge myself a little right?

My latest purchase – a recommendation I saw on Twitter from Will Freeborn, Ian McQue and Mack Chater – is a Carbon Platinum fountain pen. It’s nothing fancy, just a lightweight, standard fountain pen. The nib is great for sketching though, not too flexible, and the Platinum ink is a proper black. As Mack mentioned on Twitter, it does make a lovely noise on paper. That noise, that feel of a pen nib on the texture of paper is probably the reason I’ve got nowhere with digital art – it just doesn’t sound or feel the same.

Carbon

Carbon Platinum fountain pen

I’ve only used the Carbon Platinum fleetingly so far, but it does seem very good indeed. A pen I use all the time, and have done for a couple of years is the Copic Multiliner SP. I’ve got a whole range of nib thicknesses from 0.03mm to 0.7mm. It’s that range of line weights that allows me to add depth to my, otherwise very flat, illustrations.

Line weight

Line weights of Copic Multiliners

More pens tomorrow. As I said, I’m a bit of a pen nerd.

August blogfest – day 7

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Reinforcements arrive in the nick of time

I’ve been drawing with Palomino Blackwing pencils for most of this year. I’d thought they were just posh, over-priced, designery nonsense, but actually having tried them I bloody love using them. They are just great quality, simple as that. A much smoother graphite than I’ve found in any other pencils, and the wood sharpens beautifully. They are expensive, but for me they are worth it.

Today, I did order a couple of other high-end pencils to compare them with – a couple of Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HBs, and some of Tombow Mono 100s. I’ll post my thoughts when they arrive and I have chance to give them a go.

I used to always use a Swann Morton scalpel, with a 10A blade to sharpen my pencils, but as I’ve got busier I just use a sharpener as they’re so much quicker. When I was in London recently I went to L. Cornelissen & Son, a truly wonderful art shop in Bloomsbury, where I picked up a long point sharpener – and I love it.

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Just a smidgen of the loveliness that lay behind the doors of L. Cornelissen & Son.