Pen Testing

June 15th, 2011

I have previously mentioned that a while ago I was lucky enough to be sent some samples of Kuretake pens to try out.

For this doodle I used Zig brush writers and Zig Millennium 005 width (0.2mm) pens.

Zig brush writers are very similar to Zig clean colour realbrush pens in that they are water based and blendable and have real brush tips of a similar size. One difference is that the real brush pens seem to be available in slightly more colours though the colours in both ranges are very vibrant. The main difference though is that the brush writers have a large squeezy barrel that holds the ink. This can be squeezed to increase the flow. This can be used well for wet on wet watercolour like techniques, dripping ink into existing washes etc. Also there is a white ink brush writer available for mixing which can be useful. When mixed with the white pen the inks seem to dry with a slightly more glossy finish.

Zig Millennium pens have similar nibs to many other types of drawing pen like Faber Castel Pitt pens or pilot drawing pens. Zig millenniums’ inks are both archival quality and waterproof once dry. Also they are available in 9 different colours and 6 different nib sizes. A lot of the American bloggers I follow seem to hold Pigma Micron Pens in high esteem. I have been wondering what these are like for a while as they are not readily available in the UK and I finally managed to get hold of some this week. I have come to the conclusion that Pigma Microns are virtually identical to Zig Millennium pens except for the barrel and lid shape. The inks seem to be exactly the same except that the blues and reds are very slightly different shades (you have to look very hard to see the difference) and both sets of pens seem to boast the same properties (archival, waterproof etc). The Pigmas appear to be available in some extra colours in the larger size nibs but one less colour in the smallest nib size and the Pigmas are available in an extra nib size and a brush nib version. However, on the website I use, the Zig Millenniums come in a fair bit cheaper.

I am quite impressed with these pens especially the very fine line produced by the Zig Millenniums but I would love it if there was a darker sepia brown ink available for these the same as the pilot drawing pens whos nibs are not as fine as I would like.

East End Meetup

June 6th, 2011

A few weekends ago Drawing London on Location met up at Liverpool St Station for a sketch walk in Spitalfields, up Brick Lane towards Hoxton Square.

I started off with this very rushed 40 minute sketch of Spitalfields Market.

We then walked up to the top of Brick Lane. I had seen a couple of things that I fancied sketching but they were further back down the road. As we only had about 30 to 40 minutes and I was feeling too lazy to walk back, I twisted a couple of arms to get a few people to join me in a local bar to sketch a couple of quick portraits and so that I could drink a refreshing pint of cider ;).

The first is of Tom, The second is Andrew. This was the last spread in my Large Moleskine, finished around a year after I started drawing again.

After Brick Lane we walked over to Hoxton Square. We had planned to sit in the park there but it was closed for refurbishment so we headed over to the churchyard in Shoreditch. Most people chose to sketch each other (Adam’s sketch of me and a few others here) I chose to do this final sketch of the day of Boundry Rd in a new pocket Moleskine I have started, with the intention to keep it in my bag everyday in case I get the urge to sketch.

Web of Goo

May 31st, 2011

Finished this gooey mess a little while ago but I have been saving it up for a dry spell. More doodling on a page that had bled through. This took a lot longer than I had anticipated. I was quite glad when it was finally done and I could move on to something else.

Hyde Park Meetup

May 25th, 2011

The weekend before the Easter weekend I met again with Drawing London on Location. This trip was to Hyde Park and Holland Park, again it was lovely weather for sketching outside.

We started off in the gardens opposite Lancaster gate…

Then moved on to the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall…

And finished off the day in Holland Park…

Scott Baio Gave Me Pinkeye

May 13th, 2011

As long as I remember I have always been lucky or unlucky enough to have very vivid dreams (lucky or unlucky depending on the dream). However, recently I have been sleeping a lot more lightly, waking several times through the night and remembering more of my dreams.

I am usually aware to some degree that I am dreaming and can therefore sometimes steer the course of my dreams which can be quite fun, like watching a film where you can control the plot.

One of the coolest dreams I ever had has really stuck with me. I have a feeling that I have embelished my memory of the dream somewhat, as my memory of this dream is a lot more polished and makes more sense than my dreams usually do. In this dream I was on the run from some bad guys who were after me because I had super powers and they wanted to find out how they worked. they caught up with me but I could control energy levels and locations of materials at atomic and molecular level. This meant that I could fly, I could create walls of ice from the air, I could boil the ice at will and I could control the weather. In my dream I used all of these powers to fight the bad guys and I won! I could also change my clothing and appearance including my hair colour etc at will. The only thing that I could not change was the striking unatural violet colour of my eyes.

I woke up feeling like I had been inside a very exciting film in full glorious technicolour and that I was the star.

These came out a bit more pink than I had planned, although the scan seems to be closer to the colour I intended, but you get the idea.

Over the last day or two I have added a few links to the sidebar of this site, these are mainly to the blogs of other artists and illustrators who I follow and find very inspiring. Do check them out, there is some beautiful work out there. I will try to keep these up to date but please let me know if you find any broken links.

Swirly Faces

May 3rd, 2011

Not a lot to say about this one… I used to doodle these kind of faces over everything when I was younger so when I started doodling recently, this came out.

City Meetup

April 28th, 2011

I’m back to playing catch up again. About a month ago now I met with the meetup group again for the first outdoor sketching of the year.

This time we met in the city to draw at 3 locations. St Botolph’s Church, the area around Lloyds building and finally leadenhall market. The weather was fine and it was so good to get out into the air to draw again after being trapped inside for the winter.

It also gave me the chance to test one of the goodies that Kuretake gave me to try recently. A small travel watercolour sketch set. This is quite similar to the set that I normally use but the box also has a slot to fit a waterbrush and a black fineliner with waterproof ink that come with the set. This makes it very convenient to carry. I was very lucky to get my hands on it as they are only available in Japan at the moment. It is a very good little set with a nice selection of colours. The paint is very smooth and has a different texture to any watercolours I have used before.

The final sketch of the day was of one of the city dragons that guard the entrances of Leadenhall Market. While I sketched this I was surrounded by men wearing kilts and men and women wearing cowboy/girl outfits. They were all there to film a section of a song in a Bollywood movie. It was quite surreal and after hearing the same 10 seconds of the song over and over again it took a long time to get it out of my head.

a B for Buffy

April 7th, 2011

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts here, some time ago now, I was lucky enough to be sent some free samples of Kuretake’s Art and Graphic Twin pens by the lovely people from Kuretake UK.

I have been meaning to use them and to write a review here since I received them but for some reason it took me a long time to work out what to do with them.

Anyway, a few weeks ago Buffy from Kuretake was down in London and I had the chance to meet her. I felt I really must do something with the pens before I met her so I decided to try out a little illustration of the letter B for her. I was also lucky enough to get some more goodies to sample so you will probably see some more Kuretake products cropping up in my future posts :)

Review below the image.

The pens are a little like Tombow ABT Dual brush pens except that the Kuretake pens have a rubber ‘brush tip’ on one end and a fibre felt pen style tip on the other. The rubber tip is much more flexible and therefore performs more like a real brush than fibre ‘brush tips’ often do and also as it is rubber it cannot fray like fibre tips do (however I must point out that I have not used them long enough to see for myself if these tips do degrade in other ways).

The ink is water based and can be blended easily with itself or using a water brush. Kuretake also make a specific blending pen with similar rubber tips for their water based inks but I have not yet had the chance to try this out. On the right paper (eg. pressed watercolour paper) they can be used as watercolour pens and be blended or faded out using a water brush pen. If you use a lighter weight absorbent cartridge paper you will not be able to blend them using a water brush in the same way but they will blend with each other to an extent.

The reason I found it difficult to find a use for these pens was not down to them being difficult to use. This was simply because I already use and love Kuretake Clean Colour Real Brush pens. These use very similar ink to the Art & Graphic Twins however as the name suggests they have real bristle brush tips with very fine points. As I tend to work quite small with a lot of detail, the precise points of the real brush pens suits me better and I am yet to find anything that I can do with the Art & Graphic Twins that I can’t personally do better with the real brush pens. However I would imagine that if you are working larger the Art & Graphic Twins would be more suitable as they have larger, firmer tips.

I notice that the Art & Graphic Twins are available in 80 colours compared to the 48 colours in the clean colour real brush range. Both pen ranges offer very vivid colours (my scans do not do them proper justice). I have not yet tested myself how light fast these inks are and I haven’t been able to find out elsewhere so far but I would be very interested to know. This is not really an issue anyway if the work is in sketchbooks, scanned or if you are having prints made from the original.

Swirly Man

March 31st, 2011

This was a bit of an experiment to cover up more pages where the ink had bled through the paper in my pocket moleskine. The main colour was added by gluing in tissue paper. I then doodled all over it with black Muji brush pen, black Pilot G-Tec C4s, gold and silver fine Posca markers and Posca brush pens. I’m not convinced that I like the result but it was good to try something a bit weird.

Better Out Than In

March 24th, 2011

I drew this a month or so ago when I was feeling very bad. Don’t worry though, as the title says, better out than in, the more of this down on paper the less left in my head :)

A friend of mine made a comment when she saw it that really tickled me. “Is that meant to be you Amy? Oh Dear!” She said “You could have drawn yourself with some better shoes though couldn’t you?!”

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Amy Stace published on is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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