Sunday, December 30, 2012

Flexible Inking Nibs

I just replied to a request from an illustration student who wanted recommendations for drawing nibs that produce a flexible line.
I thought maybe someone else would be interested, so here's my reply:

Deleter G nib: A very sturdy, easy to clean nib from Japan, flexible
but stiff, doesn't scratch at all. Very easy to use and control, makes
an assured line, doesn't leak. It's pretty much perfect if you want to
do a lot of neat, lively linework. It doesn't have much personality of
its own. You can buy it in a set with two other useful Manga drawing
nibs. Dinkybox sells them in the UK. 
My Favourite Nib For Getting The Job Done. 
Mapping nib: there are a number of these, they are all similar and
I've been using different brands interchangeably. (If you buy a set of
Deleter nibs, there will be a Japanese version included called
'Maru'.) They are wonderfully scratchy and splattery if you put
pressure on them. You can do fast, swirly, jittery, experimental
drawings with these. Buy a whole bunch because if you use them with
pressure and make them splatter they stop working quite quickly. They
are very cheap, and fun, and you can just walk into any art shop and
pick up a bunch.
They need a special pen holder because they are smaller than standard.

Gillott nibs are easy to get in the UK, so here's a list:

Gillott 303: A soft, vey flexible nib, sturdy enough, but it feels
fragile. The line varies from hair-thin to almost brushlike. It picks
up every jitter of your hand. It's full of character. I think once you
work it out it could be easy to use and really expressive. Lovely for fiddly hatching, too.

Gillott 404 has a lot of authority, somehow. It's fairly stiff and
good for decisive lines rather than swirls, and makes you feel like an
important artist Making A Statement In A Few Lines.

Gillott 1950: a tiny crow quill that's nice for hatching and doodling
and noodling about.

Other brands and stuff:

Hunter 100 nib: I've never used one but I want one. People really love
it, apparently it's sensitive and has huge variation in line.

If you want to try doing linework in brush, get a kolinsky sable round
watercolour brush, size 2, 3 or 4. They seem expensive but it's worth
it. Invest in one and keep it really clean. I was given one as a child
and it changed my life. Really good brushes are awesome.

I love Chinese brushes, especially wolf hair ones. They are really
cheap. I have a separate brush for colouring in each of my characters
because they are all so different. That's what I use for gestural work
- a brush pen doesn't ink as expressively and messily as a real brush.

You can make your own brushes if you really get into it, and even use
things like q-tips or broccoli for effect. I tend to put a lot of
fingerprints and smudges on my work.

A great tool to carry with you for sketching is a Noodler's Ahab
Fountain Pen. It's no good for scratchy drawings but it has a
beautiful varied line, and you can fill it with Noodler's Black Eel
Ink which dries waterproof, if you want to do watercolour washes over
I generally use Winsor and Newton black ink, and for colour washes Dr Ph Martin's radiant concentrated water color.


Peter Underhill said...

Scribblers are a good source for nibs and advice. See the website:

Viviane Schwarz said...

Excellent recommendation, and I just went there and bought a huge load of nibs and handles and ink.
Thank you!

Peter Underhill said...

You're very welcome.