HOW TO DRAW COMICS:
INKING WITH A BRUSH pt 3
Continuing the real-life saga of one man’s struggle against his art materials!
Another difference between drawing with brushes and pencils is this: The harder you bear down on a pencil, the darker the line you get—while the thickness doesn’t change. With a brush, the harder you bear down, the thicker the line–but it’s always black! So the brush gives no control over the value of the line, only its thickness.
Now last week I said that getting the thickness of line you wanted is really just a matter of where you grip the brush on the handle combined with the angle of your hand to the paper. This is mostly true, but with one large mitigating factor: your grip.
Using the grip I described last week (basically the way you’d hold a pencil for writing), the handle of your brush will rest lightly somewhere between where your index finger joins the hand and where the thumb joins the hand (basically in that crook between your index finger and thumb), and the tip will form an angle of around 30 to 60 degrees with the paper. (The closer you hold the brush to the ferrule, the more vertical the angle will be, while the farther up the handle, the more horizontal.)
However, you can achieve a nearly perfect vertical angle by gripping the brush like a Japanese calligrapher (seen here, though unlike in the photo, you’ll want to rest the side of your hand on the paper for greater control). While awkward at first, this position allows for drawing long lines with very controlled thickness, and is favored by some artists for this purpose.
All the factors I’ve just described are how you present the brush to your drawing surface. And since the brush is an irregularly shaped instrument, how you present it to the paper will determine the kind of line it wants to make.
When held vertically, the brush presents a point, which is good for thinner lines (as well as maintaining line consistency). When held nearer the horizontal, the brush presents a kind of wedge that naturally produces thicker lines. It also give far less control of your edges, as the brush tends to flair out the more horizontal it is.
Even though you can overcome these natural tendencies with practice, it’s best, while learning, to make use of those tendencies rather than fight against them. So when it comes down to it, learning brush control is mostly about discovering how the brush wants to respond to the various ways you can angle, turn, and bear down on it.
Next Wednesday: More about the tendencies of the brush in: Inking With a Brush, part 4!
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009