Filtering by Tag: Tools

Some of My Favorite Colors.

Added on by Tyler Crook.

Recently I've been getting a lot of questions about how I keep my watercolors vibrant and saturated. Initially, I didn't have a very good answer but after thinking about it for a while I have a few ideas. This is not intended to be a comprehensive guide; it's just a few things to keep in mind.

1) Use WHITE paper.

That might sound obvious but a lot of watercolor paper is a little on the creamy side. That'll dull your colors a bit right off the bat. I use Strathmore 400 Series Mixed Media paper for almost everything. It's not super white but it's good enough to get nice saturation. 

3) Use high quality, professional paint.

For years I used Windsor & Newton Cotman colors and thought they were great but as soon as I tried a few pro quality brands I never used Cotman paint again. The Cotman colors were very affordable but tended to have less pigment and looked dull and desaturated compared to professional paints. The professional colors cost a lot more ($10 - $30 for a 14ml tube) but it's totally worth it. I mostly use Winsor & Newton Professional and M. Graham and Co. watercolor paint. But I am constantly trying new brands and pigments in search of the perfect mix.

3) Use clean water and be cautious and intentional with your color mixing.

It's real easy to desaturate your colors if you mix with a dirty brush. Especially when working with very strong pigments and little color contamination will go a long way to muddying your colors. 

4) Use Vibrant Colors!

The most obvious and most important tip. If you want vibrant colors, USE VIBRANT COLORS. I know that sounds dumb. I KNOW! I'M SORRY!! But it took me a long to time to figure that out. There are a few pigments that I adore and use whenever I want to get a real intense color. 

  • PRUSSIAN BLUE - This is a rich navy blue color. This pigment was developed in German in the 1700's as a replacement for lapis lazuli. I use it constantly. I probably use this color more than any other because it's usually the basis for my shadow colors.
  • SCARLET PYRROL - This is an intense warm red. It's an organic, synthetic pigment that was developed for the automotive industry. I use it a lot when I need an orange or when I need a red to look more intensely red. 
  • INDIAN YELLOW - This color is a strong, warm, yellow color. Originally This pigment was made in India by collecting and drying the urine of cows that were fed only Mango leaves and water. That's super bad for cows, I guess, so nowadays they make it by mixing a few different yellow pigments. I'll often use this to get an intense green by laying down an area of Indian Yellow, letting it dry and going over it with different levels of green and blue. The yellow shows through and adds intensity to the green.

5) Use a Computer.

Adjust your hue, saturation, and curves in PhotoShop so your colors are the vibrancy you are after. When it comes to making art for reproduction there is no such thing as cheating. Use all the digital tools at your disposal and make sure the printed product is as good as possible. 

Weird Tools #4 - The Spikey Comber

Added on by Tyler Crook.

This week's weird tool is the Spikey Comber! This is a special effects brush that I got from Rosemary & Co. It's basically a flat synthetic hair brush that has small clumps of hair that reach out past the tip of the main body of bristles. The result is that it makes a rough, streaky mark.

It's great when you need a bunch of roughly parallel lines but don't want to spend all day making one line at a time. The only drawback is that it can be hard to control the beginning and end of the line. It's the kind of tool that's really helpful when you want to make a big mess. I've used these brushes with ink when I want to have a sort of impressionistic or out of focus looking background.

It's also a great way to build up interesting layers of grass or foliage with watercolor. It has come in handy many times while working on Harrow County. In the image below, I laid down a flat area of green and then went over it in darker colors with my spikey comber, building up layers of grass. 

These brushes cost between $5.50 and $12.50 depending on the size. It's not a tool that I use every day but it's a tool that I always enjoy when I do use it. 

Weird Tools #1 - Painting Pen by Loew Cornell

Added on by Tyler Crook.

I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the weird tools I use to draw comics. Most of my tools are pretty typical of things you might associate with making art: brushes, pencils, paper, watercolor paint. But I have a few tools that I really enjoy that many people may have never seen before.

The first tool I want to talk about is the "Painting Pen". I didn't know this thing existed until Riley Rossmo mentioned it on Twitter. I ordered one from Dick Blick the same day. A paint pen is basically a itty-bitty bucket with a teensy-tiny pipe sticking out the end. You can fill it up with ink, watercolor, thin oil paint, just about anything that is watery enough to flow out the end. 

I've had it for a couple months now and it is hands down the best tool I have ever found for ruling my panel borders. I have used tons of different tools trying to find one that is easy to use and would give me the results I want, a clean, fat line. Microns, Rapidograph, ruling pens, nibs, they all failed me. But the Paint Pen is so simple and so easy to use and gives me such a nice line that I don't think I'll use anything else for a long time. 

Using an eyedropper, drip 2 or 3 drops into the itty-bitty bucket. Scribble on a scrap piece of paper until the ink begins to flow out the tip. The surface tension of the ink should be enough to keep the ink from just falling out of the bottom. You might have to lightly tap the pen on the paper to get the ink flowing. Once the pen is ready, you can start drawing to your hearts content. It makes a thick, dead line that is perfect for panel borders but kind of terrible for everything else. The weird, bent handle is great for drawing lines with a ruler but is somehow awkward to use when drawing any other kind of line.

Cleanup is easy: I run it under some water and wipe the bucket out with a paper towel or a little bit of toilet paper. Once it's pretty clean, I'll blow through the bucket forcing out any remaining water or ink out of the tip. It's made of brass so it won't rust. It also comes with a little "cleaning tool" that is basically a tiny piece of wire that you can stick in there to clean out the spout. 

So that's the painting pen. Let me know what you think if you use one.