Pencils and Pens

Chris Hilbig chilbig1 at
Sat May 8 07:46:01 CEST 2004


   I myself am an illustrator/comic artist, who's more or less at the 
amateur level. The bulk of my work can be seen at (A 
first of many plugs :P) What type of tools you use depend mainly on 
your preference and comfort level with whatever tools, paper, etc you 

  For comic book pages I use a generic looking mechanical pencil 
containing 0.5 mm HB lead for my pencils. When I ink, I use a variety 
of tools. I prefer using a sable brush for much of the organic lines on 
the page. I'll trade off between a Raphaël 8408, Windsor and Newton 
Series 7, or a Dick Blick Master Sable brush. I find the Raphaël the 
best of the three because of its price and performance. I also stress 
that not all sable brushes are equal, so unless you find a cheap $2 US 
brush that does a hell of a job and doesn't drive you crazy with 
splitting hairs, you'll normally find the more expensive brushes, such 
as the Series 7 ($9.58 US) brush or the Raphaël 8408 ($7.38 US) will 
consistently serve you better. That's just something you'll have to 
experiment with and find out. Another note, sable brushes are a pain to 
clean and take care of. Stuff like india ink and acrylic paint will do 
a serious number on your brushes if you're not careful. Always 
clean/rinse your brush out before the ink dries. And when you're done 
for the day, clean your brush with a little soap and water. I recommend 
"the Masters" Brush Cleaner and Preserver, it does the best job out of 
all of the other brush soaps/cleaners that I've tried. On another 
message board (, I've read that Johnson's 
baby shampoo will do the trick and without the residue. I haven't tried 
this yet, but it'll be interesting to see if it works as well as "the 
Masters".  I also use Speedball dip/crow quill pens, which are easier 
to master. You can buy the the sets or individual nibs and holders. The 
tips I use are #'s 102 and 107. The 107 is a stiffer nib, but both will 
give you a good variety of line widths. For straight lines I'll use a 
Koh-I-noor Rapidograph. Although Rapidographs are pretty pricey,  
Stratford or whoever owns Koh-I-Noor has made a more affordable line of 
Rapidographs that doesn't have much difference, other than who they're 
marketed to and the number of widths the cheaper line offers. The india 
ink I use is Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay Black. Not too thick and not too 
thin. I'm not completely happy with Bombay, but it does the job. India 
ink is also a subjective topic with many variables to consider, 
blackness, resistance to erasing, thickness, etc. Other artists I've 
read about or known also use markers such as Sakura Pigma Micron and/or 
Sharpies. I've also heard about brush markers in use here in the US and 
Asia. Eventhough markers are extremely convenient, I have found them to 
bleed and fade into a gray after erasing. For corrections, I use 
Liquitex concentrated acrylic white with a brush and  Zebra white out 
pen. As far as paper goes I use 3-ply 11x17 inch art/bristol board. 11 
x 17, with a 10 x15 drawing area is the standard in the US for 
companies like Marvel, Image and DC. In Europe and Asia they use 
different sizes, I don't particularly know what they are, but I do know 
Egmont (ECN) uses a much larger size page. I recommend checking out the 
different offerings at Their boards are in both 
standard and custom sizes. They are also pre-printed with non-photo 
blue guides.

  Most of what I've describe above can be obtain at your local arts and 
crafts store or online at,,, 
and I also recommend magazines such as Draw! 
( and Sketch ( These mags are geared 
to comic book artists and illustrators and have all sorts of great 
information. I also recommend checking out the "Introduc(k)tion to Don 
Rosa" If you scroll down 
a little over half way, you'll find some interesting tid-bits as to 
what type of materials Don Rosa uses.

  Now if you feel really bold (or stretched for time when working or 
whatever your excuse) and know your way around a Mac or PC, you can 
take the digital route. For my online comic strips, I quickly sketch 
them in pencil, and scan them at 300 dpi (I use a great i'll program 
called VueScan You can scan at 72 
dpi, but 300 dpi works best if you wish to see your work in print. You 
can always scale it down. :) Then I'll ink, letter, and color in either 
Corel Painter ( or Creature House Expression 
( MS recently bought out 
Creature House and has released the Mac version as freeware. MS from 
what I understand plans to release Expression for Windows as was before 
the buyout, but MS seems to be taking its good sweet time. You may have 
to look around the web to purchase a copy of Expression 3 for Windows. 
None the less it's an amazing illustration program. I like it a lot. In 
both Painter and Expression, I ink and color with a 6 x 8 Wacom Intuos 
graphics tablet.

  Anyways, I hope this helps.

Chris Hilbig
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