HOW TO DRAW COMICS:
INKING WITH A BRUSH pt 8
Continuing the real-life saga of one man’s struggle against his art materials!
Unlike the brush, a pencil has a rigid tip. Assuming it’s sharpened to a good point, this means that whatever direction you draw across the paper, the pencil will give you an identical line. Why? Because the rigid tip of the pencil guarantees that an identical point is presented to the paper no matter which direction you move the pencil (assuming you hold the pencil relatively vertical).
The brush, on the other hand, has a flexible tip. This means that moving the brush across the paper in different directions often presents different kinds of points to the drawing surface, yielding different kinds of lines.
Which is to say, the way you control the brush affects the kind of point the brush makes with the surface, and therefore the kinds of lines the brush wants to make under various conditions.
Let’s explore this.
When you hold the brush naturally in your hand — that is, with the handle of the brush resting more or less in the crook where your thumb joins your hand — you’ll notice that the brush tip makes an angle to the surface of the paper. This angle is extremely important for brush drawing and can be divided into two aspects: the vertical and the horizontal.
Let’s first examine the vertical angle.
If you hold the brush straight up and down over the surface of the paper, any direction you want to move your brush across the paper will give more or less identical lines (assuming equal pressure on the brush) because the tip of the brush on the paper is the same in all directions.
But holding the brush like this is not natural. Normally, you hold your brush at something like 30 to 45 degrees from the vertical, meaning that the tip of the brush is at an angle to the paper. This is the vertical angle I’m talking about, and it’s important for understanding how the brush tip affects the line you draw. We’ll discuss more about this next week.
Now, let’s look at the horizontal angle.
As I mentioned last week, when you use any single part of your body to control the brush — your wrist, for example — the natural shape of the line you draw is always a semi-circle around that controlling body part — controlling the brush with the wrist puts the center of your natural arc at the point where your wrist bone rests on the paper.
Now, looking straight down onto your paper from above, the horizontal angle is the direction your brush points across the paper. And this is always more or less away from the center of your natural arc, whether wrist, elbow, or shoulder. This assumes, of course, that you draw with your arm relaxed and no part of your wrist or arm is turned in a way that is forced.
Since the tip of the brush points horizontally away from the center of whatever body part controls the action, as you sweep the brush to make natural arcs, these arcs will at all times be made by a sideward action of the brush (or in a tangent to the semi-circle if you’re geometrically inclined).
However, when you push and pull the brush as we talked about last week, you are presenting the brush point differently to the paper’s surface than in the sideward action of your natural arc, and this will change the kind of line your brush wants to make.
Next Wednesday: More about brush angles and how they affect the kinds of lines you can make in: Inking With a Brush, part 9!
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009