I’ve been inking a bunch of stuff this week. Mostly I’ve been inking stuff that is going towards making my “Organics” comic that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago but I also inked a couple of drawings for prints that I’ve had lying around. That I’ve been inking stuff all week is a sign that I haven’t been able to get a lot of other stuff done. Some weeks are like that. Creativity can run out for a while. Ideas and purpose can disappear. This is a state of affairs that is terrifying for an artist in his or her twenties but is less scary in your forties. When I was young and I thought I lost something I feared it might not come back. As I got older I realized that’s the ebb and flow of things. As much as I want to I can’t always be on. Though no matter what your age it’s still an empty feeling when you search yourself for what you want to do and nothing comes to mind. It’s a good thing I have a lot of old unpurposed drawings lying around that I can always pick up, ink, and at least have the brief feeling of accomplishing something.

Inking is something that I find takes less creative energy than other tasks. The hardest part of figuring out how a drawing is going to work is already done and what is left is finishing the drawing in ink. There is a lot of craft to inking in that I have to figure out which of my various pens and brushes to use and how exactly I want to use them to make the finished drawing. Craft is all about knowing how to make something. I’ve used the tools before, I’ve inked lots of drawings before, and now I have to finish this particular drawing using that knowledge and experience. In a drawing there is more figuring stuff out going on. That’s when things often don’t work so I have to erase and try again. With inking all that is done and I just have to make it look good. Sometimes I don’t have the energy for thinking so much but I can go on a kind of autopilot and do some inking. That’s where I’ve been this week.

Last week I was working on some pages for my new “Organics” comic but I ran out of energy. I had been penciling and inking a bunch of pages based on some of my automatic drawing methods and completed quite a few of them. It was a good run but all runs end. This week I started making some more pages based on a different method. I started digging through my pile of drawing to see what I could find and use for pages. Just like as this week I’ve been inking some weeks I just draw. That’s part of my process. I’ve got a drawer full of somewhere between fifty to seventy five pencil drawings that were finished but never turned into anything. They mostly sit there waiting for me to look through and maybe use one someday.

This week I did uses some. I decided to take a few of the drawings and turn them into comic book pages. Or half pages as things went. I’ve also been trying to incorporate some of my five by seven marker drawings into my new “Organics” comic. I’ve been having some problems figuring out how to do that. All the pages I’m doing are ten by fifteen inches so the smaller marker drawings will just be a piece of that larger page. But I don’t know what the other pieces should be. That’s where this weeks inking has come in. I’ve been picking from my pile of drawings and making those drawings into parts of pages. The problem is that I still haven’t quite figured out how those newly inked panels fit with the marker ones. It’s all a work in progress but still I got some inking done.

I’ve got a few basic inking tools that I’ve been using for years. The main one is a Winsor Newton Series 7 number 3 sable hair brush. This is the classic comic book inker’s brush and I’ve been using it for decades. It’s my favorite. I also use a few pens too. A lot of inkers use a Hunt 102 crow quill pen for inking but I never warmed to that one. I use the much harder to find Gillott 1950 pen. Those are both old fashioned dip pens. You have to dip them in a bottle of india ink to use them. Waterproof india ink is what’s used to ink comics.

I also use a variety of markers for inking. Twenty years ago there weren’t many good markers to ink with and I mostly used technical pens but these days there are a ton of markers with high quality archival waterproof ink in them. I still use one technical pen to ink. It’s one of the larger sized and lays down a thick wet india ink line that I find a marker can’t easily duplicate. All the thinner technical pen lines are easy to duplicate with the much easier to use markers.

I did revive one pen technique this week for these pages. It’s more of a pen modifying technique actually. Y’see I like sign pens. I first started using them years ago with the Pentel Sign Pen but have since found another Japanese brand that I like called Computer Sign Pens. The only problem with them is that the ink they use is not waterproof nor is it archival. They’re not really meant for artwork. Back when I only knew about the Pentel sign pens I used to refill them with india ink. If you pull off the back plug on the pen you an take out the cylindrical sponge inside that holds the ink. Refill that sponge with drops of india ink and the pen will keep on going. At least until the tip eventually wears down. The only problem I had with this method is sometimes the india ink would be too thick to flow through the pen properly over time. Eventually that got a little annoying and I stopped doing it. This week I started doing it again because I recently purchased some technical pen ink. You can use regular india ink in a technical pen, as I had been doing for years, but technical pen ink has a little bit of glycerin in it that acts as a surface tension breaker and makes the ink flow easier through a pen. I used some of this ink in a sign pen and it worked beautifully. It flowed much better than my regular ink. I think I’ll keep doing it.