Sunday, 6 September 2009

Brushing up..

I ordered 4 new inking brush pens last last week. The Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium, Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine, Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer and Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen Ink - Black (which all together came to just over £10 with free shipping). Now that I've had the chance to try them out I'm going to give my opinion of them.

The following piece, of Lenny Addison from Slaughterman's Creed, was drawn with the first 3 brush pens I mentioned. I didn't use the Tombow, which I'd tried the night before and found the ink to be a little faded with almost a hint of blue-ish to it. It did have the thickest of the 4 brushes (on one end, with a smaller nib or the other side) but it sat out for this particular piece.
The piece below was drawn on plain a4 sketchpad paper (which I'm using to draw most of my comic pages in a3 size these days) but I'll test the pens on bristol board in a follow-up blog.
Pencils: The Gif below is animated just to show my first pencils, then a little correction to the eye, as I noticed it was too high when I first scanned the piece (looks like Lenny has a twitch).

I then used the The Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium to draw all the outlines and main features. The first thing I noticed was that the width of the brush is less that half that of the Pentel brush Pen I would normally use, The brush itself is firm but flexible, giving it a nice 'bounce'. I found myself inking more than I was going to with this pen as I could get quite a small line as well without having to switch to another tool. The flow of Ink is lovely and a steady movement will result in a very dark line. You won't be able to get a full dry brush effect as the tip is constantly wet, but moving the brush really fast can produce a somewhat rough effect, as seen on the hair above Lenny's ear: As I said, I ended up using the medium brush more than I had planned, but I did add in little details with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine. This needs a firmer pressure to create a decent line (with quick stokes being a little whispy), and my first impression was that the pen was almost reduntant considering the varied width that could be achieved with the medium brush. However since then, while switching between the two, I've noticed the fine pen allows weight to be leaned firmer on the paper/pen and removes the delicate approuch to drawing fine lines that would be needed for the medium brush or a normal paintbrush. The fine brush is closer to a normal pen than the medium, but with the added bonus of being able to alter the line weight, if to a lesser extent than the medium Kuretake.
However, this is when I first noticed the drying time for these brush pens. While erasing the pencil under the ink, the lines I had created with fine brush slightly smudged (it may not be very noticable in the picture below but there is a smudge at the bottom right of the lip and the eyebrow on the left). I think the drying time for the Kuretake Brush pens is somwhere over 30 seconds, but I'll have a proper comparison on my next blog. As I'd menitioned above,, the medium Kuretake is smaller than the Pentel brush pen, so you will still need a larger brush for big blacks. I wouldn't want to fill any blacks more than a sqaure inch or so as it would be both time consuming and waste the pen ink. The big blacks on the jacket, tie and neck were filled in with a normal Winsor & Newton brush and ink. I then went back to the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium and added more line weight to the left outline of the face, a few of the features and added a few more details around the collar with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine: The Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer is an empty compressible tube with a brush tip on the end. This lets you fill the tube with either water for blending, or an ink soloution (or I suppose really any thin liquid) letting you brush with it. It took a few tries to get the right balance of ink and water for a nice grey, I'm not sure what the combination was, but I'm guessing somwhere near half and half. I put the water/ink in a sink and submerged the tube while compressed and let it fill with water.
When applying the ink, changing the pressure you apply on the tube will push more of your solution onto the brush tip, but if you squeeze even a little to hard the point where the brush meets the tube will leak although I found it fairly easy to control after a few tries on a scrap of paper. Before this, I would have dipped my pen in ink, then water and hoped for the best, but this is a really nice solution (ha!) to producing a nice and faily constant grey:

This revealed a crucial flaw in the Kuratake pens; They're not waterproof. Any amount of water applied to them will blur the fine lines created earlier. The waterproof Indian Ink that was applied with the Winsor & Newton brush stayed perfectly still on the page while the Kurake ink smudged. Anyone who wants to paint watercolour or grayscale over preserved fine sketching had best avoid the Kuratakes. Initially this did put me off, but I realised that for the sort of style I could create with this combination of pens, the grayscale sort of made fine hatching irrelevent.
Overall I'm really happy with these three brush/pens, and hopefully have more to show using them.
Update: Brush width comparisations: First line is finest line I could get with the brush/pen. The second line being the widest. In theory these should be actual size but I don't know how it will differ screen from screen:
Brush rolecall (In order of appearance above):
Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine,
Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium,
Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer (which I've just realised is branded Kuretake on the side)
Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen Ink - Black
Faber-Castell Brush pen (bare in mind, mine is worn and running out)
Winsor & Newton paint brush and Winsor & Newtwon Black indian ink size 000, size 00 and size 2
A old thicker brush that I can't remember the name of and is quite worn away (used for filling balcks).


  1. Shame about the Tombow, looked like a good pen. Gonna order those Kuratake ones though.
    Thanks man!

  2. Stephen,
    If there are any trade/ art or maybe hobbyist magazines that review kit, and there’s bound to be some – have you thought about submitting this article to them for publication? Might bring you some additional contacts in that area of industry! I wonder if even the product developers themselves would appreciate such constructive feedback.

    Sorry to couch advice in such mechanistic terms, by product of the day job >_<

  3. Also, do you ever use an airbrush? I have an Aztek A470 that I'm getting mixed results with. Mostly a lack of skill and time to practice I think. Was wondering if you've any tips, an that? =P
    Great stuff btw! =D

  4. Thanks, I hadn't thought of that Martin, I'm sure there are some trade magazines somewhere. something to think about(If I was a little more careful with my editing lol).

    Have never tried an airbrush. They do sound very tricky, and a bit messy, to me. Are you using stencils/cutouts to get your shapes or just going freehand?

  5. Stephen,

    I used to use an airbrush for leather jacket work and the occassional motorcycle hlemt. I found that, when you got used to it and used it, it was ok however even a short (ish) break of a few months made a difference that I have never found with pencil and brushes.

    ... then again I have never been as proficient nor prolific as you so you may pick it up and work wonders with it right away :)

    I like the sound of the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium and the Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer but the fact that it isn't waterproof may be a drawback. However the greyscale you produced is wonderful so for that sort of work I think that you have found your new best friends! :)

    Loved Lenny's twitch, by the way, maybe you should do your own 'Spider-Woman' take ;o)

    BTW - wanted to pass something your way. Chris Howard's online graphic novel (which is a prequel to his full text - novel, Seaborn) is DEFINTELY worth checking out!

    ... and now that it is winter and my new A3 lightbox has arrived I will be popping in on one of the Thursday meetings :)


  6. The Kuretake No.8 is a fountain brush pen that you can get for about $13. Rather than using Kuretake ink cartridges in it, however, you can either use Platinum carbon ink cartridges - which are waterproof - or a Platinum converter. I opted for the later, and use Ph. Martin's Blackstar Matte Ink in mine.