Pens Part One: Zebra G Nib
As I mentioned before, I soon gave up on the idea of drawing Maddy Kettle using a single tool, like a rapidograph or the computer. And it all comes down to the fact my best work springs from using a variety of tools. I think I can do a nice pencil drawing or ink sketch but the work that looks most interesting to me comes from a variety of tools used together.
So I’m always looking around for great tools to add to my studio. I’m already a bit restless so this suits my personality.
And a fairly recently discovery that has become essential to my drawing is the Zebra Chrome G-Nib. It’s a Japanese made nib, used by Manga artists and it seems to me to be designed especially for cartooning. For years my nib of choice was the Hunt 100 or 103 nib. These have a great line but they clog and snap easily. I’ve been using the same G Nib for over a year now and it still works as well as the day I got it. It still will clog if not cleaned periodically but the well where the ink sits is broader and I think that makes it clog less frequently. In any case, it’s easy to clean and clogging is never a problem.
What I love best about the G Nibs, besides a beautiful line, is the hardiness of them. They are really tough pen nibs. I had no idea nibs could be made this resilient. You can really put a lot of pressure on them and they will take it, allowing you to do long, elegant lines of varying width. This lets me put a looser, more gestural quality in my Maddy Kettle pages that otherwise might look rigid if only drawn with a single width mechanical pen. In fact, this was my biggest problem with the earlier pages; they lacked the liveliness of my other work. It’s a hard balance. When working too detailed with a single width line my work gets all flat and static but working too loose and gestural my work can get too messy and uncontrolled looking. While I think the most important aspect of a drawing is composition, this balance of liveliness and control is a big deal for me.
In terms of getting nibs and other materials, Jetpens has been a lifesaver. This company provides amazing tools for art and good prices and the ship fast. I can’t say enough good things about this company. The nib and nib holder were both purchased there. I was talking to some cartoonists on Twitter and they all agreed that if it weren't for Japanese made art supplies we'd all have to suffer through inferior drawing products.
Next, I’ll talk about other pens I use in my work.