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October 7, 2015 | Permalink | Webcomics Archive

We're back with a Wednesday Update!

I've been participating in #inktober and posting all my finished drawings at Patreon -- they're open for view there, under "Creator Posts". Check them out! :D

Also, I have some nifty news!

I'm working with Date Nighto to create an original visual novel game called "Hustle Cat!" It's currently up on Kickstarter for funding. If you ♥ cats, cafes, mysteries, and a little romance, this just might be the game for you. :3

I helped design their cat cast and there is a limited reward tier for those who'd like to work with me to create their very own in-game cat character. :D

Check it Out!

nemu*nemu News



#inktober Basics - Tools Part 3

0 Ish Good!

Hi folks!

Back with some #inktober posts about the tools I use to ink.

Just about all of the comic pages I worked on this year are inked on paper.

Here's a close-up of a recent page. My $5+ tier patrons have access to my private tumblr where I post all of the original inked pages. You can really see my progression over the past year! ^_^;

It's been a learning experience. I've never been too comfortable with my inking and usually rely on color to cover up my insecurities. I can't say it's gotten "easier," but I feel a little more at home with the tools I use.

While I'll be talking about paper types next week (because that's really a post of its own), today I'll talk more about the inks I've been using.


Ok. I've amassed a collection of inks over the past few years, because like pens - they're all slightly different. I'm only going to cover the ones I typically use from day to day and why I use them. If you want a more comprehensive look at ink types, JetPens has a -great- primer covering all the inks they carry in their shop.

The first thing you need to decide with inks is: What am I going to do with this ink?

Sounds simple, but as there are many varieties of inks, each with different properties, you need to plan ahead. There are super dark inks that are glossy, but not waterproof. There are waterproof inks that are not a dark black. There are inks that may be waterproof, but will not work with alcohol markers like Copics. Some dry fast, some dry slow.

I break my inks down into 2 main groups: Comics and Illustration.


The inks I use for comics just have to be black, not bleed on my paper, and dry relatively quickly.

For reference, this is ink I started with:
Deleter Black #1
It's an easy ink to use for both nibs and brush, so I highly recommend it for beginners. It can take a little while to fully dry, so don't rush when using it. It can also be used with alcohol markers, but not with water/paints. Just give it some time to fully dry, or you'll have smears when coloring.

I have 2 inks main inks I use for comics:

Kaimei Bokujuu

This ink is often used for Japanese ink paintings/calligraphy, so it can be used straight from the bottle or watered down. (Japan's version of India Ink.) There are two main brands: Kaimei and Kuretake. (Incidentally, Sakurazawa-sensei used this ink at her workshop demo. :D)
(I just picked this one up from our local Don Quijote to try out since I think I bought the Kaimei one in Japan. They come in a variety of bottle sizes!)

It has a strong herbal scent as it's made from wood ash. It should smell "medicinal" - if it smells like something rotten/rank, it's old and should be tossed.

I find the ink easy to use with both nibs & brush, and it's a nice deep, semi-glossy black. It's quite resistant to erasing as well. I personally don't recommend it for coloring over with paint or markers, though Jetpens suggests it's OK when the ink is applied with brush and left to dry. Dry times are much longer when you use nibs, so be careful.

I prefer to use this ink on smooth comic paper. You can see where I started with this combo from this comic page:


Midway thru this story, I ran low on comic paper. So I figured I should try something different picked up some Copic Illustration Paper that was available at my local art shop. (More about this paper in next week's post.)

Long story short, as it's a different kind of paper, I found the bokujuu didn't work as nicely. The ink appeared thinner and lighter than I liked. So, I went thru my ink stash (see ink pile above) and found this one worked best:

Pilot Drafting Pen Ink

This seems to be one of the inks most manga artists use. While I personally didn't like how it worked with nibs on my comic paper, It was fantastic on this new illustration paper! It's semi-glossy and lays dark on my paper, but for the amount you get, it's a little pricy. (Though the glass bottle is classy~!) Dry time is reasonable, but I can't say about lifting as I trace from my draft sheets on a lightbox.

As for illustration - these are the inks I use for commissions and at events for inking colored sketches when I need fast-drying, waterproof/marker-proof inks.

Please note, I use these for base ink drawings. I do not use them OVER my finished colors - I just stick to multiliners for that.

First up:
Deleter Black #6

This was originally my go-to ink at events. It's not really -waterproof-, but I can use my markers over it. It's dark and glossy and dries relatively fast. I tend to use this ink for my sketchcards as it's also very resistant to lifting with erasers. It's a good quality india-style ink.

Since I was running low on this ink, I did a little research and picked up this ink next:

Deleter Black #4

Now this ink has serious staying power. It's very dark, opaque, resistant to lifting, waterproof, and great with markers.

Downside - it takes a little longer to try and usually more expensive than most of the Deleter line.

Another major downside - this ink can be really thick and likely needs to be stirred/shaken well before use. I also need to clean my nibs with alcohol, so I do not recommend using this ink with brush.

I started bringing this bottle with me to events, but it's a bit of a hassle as I need to carry a bottle of alcohol with me. The ink will -stick- to the nib and can get gummy with build up. Cleaning the nib regularly is essential.

So there you have it -- my current line up of inks! While I have more pictured in my lineup at the top of the post, I've found I don't like them as much for various reasons - ranging from darkness, dryness, viscosity, or just being hard to work with.

I'm constantly testing out different inks, so if you have one you recommend, send it my way!

Next week, I'll talk a little bit about the various papers I use. :D

Disclaimer: While I link my supplies above with my Amazon affiliate links, I encourage you to search online for deals as prices may vary from shop to shop. If you appreciate the information in these blog posts and plan on shopping at Amazon anyway, click any of my affiliate links to get there! Every little bit helps me keeps me going in a big way! ★



#inktober Basics - Tools Part 2

0 Ish Good!

Ahoy folks!

I'm back with Part II of my #inktober basics. Well, this post is a little less about the basics for beginners and more about expanding your horizons with inking tools. :D

I'll call these "Advanced Tools" simply because 1) they're trickier to use, 2) the supplies are harder to find. Thankfully, online shops like Amazon or Jetpens frequently carry them.

I'll start from left to right:


(Incidentally, the nib holder on the right (D) is the one I received from Sakurazawa-sensei when she did a private workshop here in Hawaii -- it was brand new at the time. ^^;)

A: Watercolor Brushes: This is a synthetic Princeton Art & Brush Co. Round #0 I recently picked up at my local art shop. It's an OK brush so far, but not as snappy as my old Winsor & Newton Series 7 made from Kolinsky Sable.. which I accidentally messed up by cleaning it in alcohol. I planned to pick up a new Series 7 brush, but found out that the US has a ban on sable imports, which has dried up the brush market in both America & Canada. So I'm looking for an alternative.

Inking with brush is really an experience. It can be a terrible struggle if the brush is bad (see the paragraph below) but on the other hand, you really can't replicate the feel of inking with a brush. It's also higher maintenance as the ink we use can be corrosive to the brush hairs. So cleaning is essential!

When looking for a brush, make sure the hairs are all in place and none are sticking up or out. Most art shops will provide you with water to test the point. Good brushes will hold their point with water and not splay out or split when you press it to paper to create a line. Considering a sable watercolor brush at size 0 or 2 will typically cost you a good $20 each, you'll want to make sure the one you buy isn't a dud.

The following are nibs and they come in 3 main Japanese brands: Nikko, Zebra, and Tachikawa. (There are other brands like Kuretake and Deleter too.) The make is the same, but there is a very slight difference in flex between brands. I personally find the Nikko and Zebras to be "softer" which allows more flexibility in the nib with moderate pressure. I like the stiffness of the Tachikawas as I tend to press harder when I'm tired. You can find most of these at Jetpens, so try them out for yourself! ♥

On to the main types:

B: The Maru. This is also known as the Round or Mapping nib (also, Hunts 103) These are stiff nibs and produce very fine lines, They can be rather scratchy and sometimes need to be broken in by drawing practice lines. Many use these for fine details like lashes, hair, and even crosshatching as there's little flex. It requires a smaller pen holder.
Note: There is also the Hunts 102, which looks similar to the Maru, but is built as an ultra flexible variation. It's very popular with western comic artists/cartoonists.

C: The G-Pen. This is the Japanese standard for manga artists. It's the most flexible of nibs, so folks use it for just about everything. Press hard and you can get a brush-like look and line variation. Touch lightly and you can get micro-liner fine lines. There are a couple variations on this nib - the School and Japanese model (日本字) - which I find are less flexible.

You can see them in use by some of the masters in Urasawa's ManBen series:
ManBen: Inio Asano (Oyasumi PunPun, DeDeDe, Solanin)
ManBen: Akiko Higashiyama (Princess Jellyfish)
ManBen: Urasawa, Kaiji Kawaguchi, Kazumi Yamashita

D: The Saji. Sometimes called the Spoon, Globe, or Tama, this is similar to the G-pen, but much stiffer and creates slightly thicker, uniform lines. Some use it for outlines and borders. It's a matter of preference. If you press hard and but would like to maintain control over your lines, these are a nice option. I tend to use these when I ink mechanical things.

Jetpens has a great primer for nibs and maintenance at their blog. They've already done the work and they have a large selection of nibs and holders to choose from as well. :D

And that's it for the basic tools! I'll be following up tomorrow with Part III: Inks!



#inktober Basics - Tools Part 1

0 Ish Good!

Since the request was made on Facebook, I thought I'd make a blog post about some of the tools I use/used to get my feet (brush?) wet with inks.

Today's a look at my line up of basic tools:

I'll start from the bottom and work my way up to the top!

L: My go-to blue pencil - the Prismacolor ColErase pencil in Light Blue. Super easy to use, maybe not an easy clean erase, but inexpensive and handy for drafting out my layout.

K: Uniball Clutch pencil with B lead - There is no wood casing around this pencil -- it's just a barrel of lead in a mechanical pencil casing. You can adjust how long or short you want the lead, but you'll need a special pencil sharpener. It's often used for drafting - I first learned how to use it in a beginning architectural design class I took in high school. :D It's nice to have the variation of a lead pencil in the format of a mechanical pencil. :D

J: Uniball Signo UM-153 0.1 in White - this is a go-to white pen for highlights on the go. Not as thick as white paint or correction ink, it's easier to carry and pretty easy to use. Ink quality/flow can be hit or miss, so I usually buy a few and test the opaqueness before adding it to my pencil case.

I: Pentel Tradio - I don't use this often, but it's been recently re-issued to the market and a pretty good place for folks who'd like to try an inking style similar to a fountain pen. It has a pointy-chisel.. er.. point and if you rotate it, it provides a variety of lines from thin to wide. Just be careful, as it can "splatter" or "spray" ink unintentionally, depending on how you press down.


H: The standard multi-liner - Be it Pigma, Copic, Faber-Castell's PITT line, Koh-i-noor, etc - there are tons of them on the market and available in sizes from .003 to 3, in a variety of colors. Sizing differs from company to company, so be careful. Lines are uniform and predictable. They're generally great for coloring over with markers and paints, but can lighten if erased over. Nibs can fray with use and make thicker lines than anticipated, so keep a couple on hand in your favorite sizes. I typically use .005 and .01, but will carry .03 & .05 for larger sketches or things that need a fatter, darker line/fill.

Onto brush pens:

G & F: These are Pigma's Pro brush line. They're built with a "brush pen" type barrel - longer for a modified grip. The point is "felt" - not hairs, so the lines can be thicker overall. It's a good place to start if you've never used brush. They come in 3 sizes -- I just bought the M & B to practice broader strokes and do fills.

E: Faber-Castell's PITT brush pen - These are a popular option as well and have been on the market for a while. They're also felt-tipped, so they're easy to use. I recommend switching them out often, as the tip frays with use. They also don't really create a super fine point, and the ink is a lighter black.

D: This is the Pilot Fude Pen, which has 2 points - wide and fine. They also have felt-tips, but I find most Japanese pens of this type do a great job of creating nicer line variation. There are many styles and brands - just look for Japanese Calligraphy type pens at most shops. They're great for folks who have difficultly controlling their lines - a perfect place for brush-pen beginners to get their feet wet! I carry this in my pen case when I do signings for quick sketches when I want the brush pen look without worrying about wobbly lines. :3

A, B & C: These are synthetic hair brush pens. A is the Kuretake Bimoji pen (this style comes in both felt & hair-types.) They're built to be disposable. B & C are Pentel Brush pens with a squeezable, removable ink-cartridge. Louie del Carmen uses these for his quick muse drawings. :D These tend to run dry for me - maybe it's from older stock - not sure. These pens give the best line variation from very thin to extremely thick and can be tricky to use. The longer the brush is, the greater the tendency for the tip to "flip" when drawing. It took me a while to get used to drawing/inking with brush pens, as they require a lot of control - but if you stick with it, the result is worth the struggle!

On a side note, I just picked the Bimoji one up recently from our local Don Quijote. I've been using it for most of my Inktober drawings. :D

Not pictured above, since I'd have to dig it out of my pen bag -- the Pentel Pocket Brush pen.

This is my most recommended pen. It's gotten a little pricy lately as it grows in popularity, but it's a synthetic hair brush with ink cartridge. The ink is dark and waterproof when absolutely dried. It's very portable and convenient.

For additional reading....

I did a previous post back in 2008 when I first made the switch to brush pens. I'm sure most of the affiliate links are defunct and some of the pens may not be available anymore, but many of my notes still apply. :D

And that's it for the basics! Finding the right inking tools is a lot of trial and error - everyone finds their sweet spot with a little practice. You can probably find these tools (or something similar) available in your neck of the woods - I encourage you to give them a try! :D

Tomorrow - Part II: Advanced Tools... :D