This week I made some ink and marker drawings in a slightly different style than usual. I used my colored ink and bright colored markers. I was looking for a super hero pop art style. I think I came close.

The first thing I had to ask myself was what did I want to draw in this style? I wanted something simple so I went with a face and then I decided to do it at comic book size so I went with a Batman face. I don’t draw a lot of popular characters but when I do Batman is up there on my list because he has such a distinctive mask and face. I’m not even a huge Batman fan but he has a lot of interesting shapes in his mask. It’s almost like an abstract painting.

The first thing I knew I wanted to do was to change Batman’s colors. I didn’t want his usual blue. I decided on my brightest green marker instead. I also decided on my blue ink. I have two shades of blue ink. One is lighter than the other but it’s also more transparent. I went with the darker and more dense one. It’s a very pigmented medium blue so it did the job well.

My first attempt had to be abandoned. It can be tricky working with markers because they can smear if thing are done in the wrong order. I normally use a black India ink and that works well with the markers. If I were to take a marker and color over the black ink it generally won’t smear. Sometimes there is a little extra black pigment on the surface of the paper and that pigment will smear into the marker ink. That doesn’t happen often enough to be a problem but it turns out with the blue ink it is a problem.

I made my Batman drawing, printed it out in blue line, inked it with my blue ink, and then set about coloring it with markers. That’s when the trouble happened. The blue ink had a lot of extra pigment in it that sat on the surface of the paper. The marker started to smear that pigment every now and then but I thought it was fluke. Then it kept happening. I eventually had all of Batman’s face and mask colored but there was too much smearing for my taste. It wasn’t disastrous but it wasn’t good either. I decided to start again and do things backwards.

I grabbed another piece of paper and printed out the drawing in blue line but this time I used the markers first and then the ink over top of them. This wasn’t an easy way to work. I like to have my line in place before the color because that helps me visualize things better. But I had no choice this time so I put the color down over weak blue pencil lines. I got used to it in the end though. Especially since I was using only flat color. It would have been trickier if I was using modeled color.

I had no idea what I wanted for the background when I started the drawing. I drew nothing for the background so I figured it had to be some sort of color design but nothing jumped out at me at first. I happened to have my Haff parallel line machine out so I decided to go with lines for the background. I needed up setting the machine to two millimeters and using the chisel end of the marker to make straight lines. I drew a line across the edge of the Haff ruler, hit its lever to move the ruler down 2MM and repeat this five times. So five clicks of the Haff, five lines in a row drawn, and then five more clicks of the Haff with no lines drawn. So 10MM of color and then 10MM of white paper.

I started the background with the dark color first. Then I came in with a lighter shade marker of the same color. That way I didn’t need the Haff machine for the lighter color since the dark color would hem it in. Light doesn’t bleed into dark. Once again it’s all about the order things are done in.

After that I inked the drawing with the blue ink as usual. It all went smoothly and liked the results. I decided to try a second one with red ink. I had a little bit of a tougher time with the color choices on this one. I think the bright green on the first Batman head worked really well and I didn’t have another marker that I was as confident in. I ended up going with an orange marker and it did the job but I like the green Batman better.

I also had a problem with the contrast between the orange and the red ink line. They were too close in value. I ended up using an outline around the outside ink line. I choose the lighter shade of blue ink that I have and went to work. It took a while. It come out okay but the lighter blu ink was a little too transparent for the task. I had to go over the same line multiple times in order to get it opaque. Or at least a bit more opaque. The second one is okay but I like the first one better.

After the two drawings were completed I got tired of Batman. I wanted to work with one of my own images so I found a face that I drew a few years ago and use that. I used the same method of drawing with the colored markers first and then the blue ink and things went smoothly. The drawing looks fine but there is a funny thing about it. It doesn’t look “Off” enough.

Y’see, I know what Batman is supposed to look like and after I drew him in bright green that made him look “Off.” Looking at the drawing makes my brain a little confused because something familiar looks odd. Meanwhile despite the original drawing of the face I made having crazy colors, like green and magenta, it doesn’t look “Off.” It looks like another of my crazy faces. Weird. Crazy is so normal for my drawing that it doesn’t look crazy enough. A strange conclusion.