Drawing and Inking with Brushes
I haven’t gone out to public drawing sessions too often lately, but when I do, people are curious about my fascination with using a brush. My very first interest in the brush started was when I met John Buscema at San Diego Comic Con in the early to mid 1990’s. He was inking a commission drawing of Conan at his table and I was just candidly watching in awe. Each line was very controlled and beautiful in itself. There was a consistent flow of energy throughout the simple figure. The brush was very versatile because he could fill larger areas of black with just one stroke and delineate it to taper off into a very fine line as if it was only using one hair on the very tip. There were no cell phones back then so I obviously don’t have a photo of the drawing, but here are a couple of examples of his inked work if you’re not familiar.
At around the same time, I was a fan of the Vampire Hunter D animated film. Yoshitaka Amano was the character designer for that film and he’s also very popular for his character work on the early Final Fantasy video games. Here is some of his brush work. He combines the ink paintings with watercolor and his work has so much life and mood within them. I love the dark and eerie feel of his work.
Another artist who’s work I love is Takehiko Inoue. He is famous for this manga called Vagabond. His brush paintings are descriptive and alive. I bought a great book called Inoue Takehiko: The Last Manga Exhibition and there’s a nice review for it right here. Here are a couple of examples from Mr. Takehiko.
Last but not least, I want to go back to another wonderful artist who worked on Conan: Born on the Battlefield named Greg Ruth. Greg has a a great dry-brush style that is organic, yet very controlled and his art is highly polished. These are a couple of images that were done in black and white ink and colored digitally later on I believe. What’s very noteworthy is how the colors work so well with the art that it blends in like a watercolor painting.
Here are my favorite brushes. The top two brushes are Series 7 Sable Windsor & Newton #2 & 3 which I used to ink the first issue of Hiraku. I think about John Buscema when I pick these up. The third and fourth brushes are inexpensive Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Menso brushes that I bought from the Kinokuniya book store in Little Tokyo. Takehiko Inoue uses brushes that are similar to these to ink his manga. The fifth, sixth, and seventh brushes are handmade brushes by Ron Mello. Greg Ruth said he bought some nice handmade brushes from Keith Lebenzon, but he’s not around anymore unfortunately. When I searched for Keith Lebenzon, I found Ron Mello. That’s pretty much why I’m fascinated with brushes, ink painting, and watercolors. When I pick up a brush, I think of a specific look that it can create. Using a handmade brush a great way to experiment and force yourself to relax. With the handmade brushes, there is a wonderful organic feel that is very hard to control. It’ll take me a long time to learn how to use them, but I think it’ll be a worthwhile pursuit. Situations like that constantly remind me that my drawing ability must be impeccable because otherwise the wild brush will surely make the drawing deteriorate too easily. After all, the brush doesn’t do the drawing for you!
I found this neat little sample chart for Keith Lebenzon’s Brushes.