Hello, my name is Richard Serrao. I’m the co-owner of Optimum Wound and I’m also a graphic black and white artist.
The purpose of this Column today is to give a little insight into the creative process I employ, along with some of the tools I use. Which I’ll also show and talk about how I use them.
Above is the type of India ink I use right now. it’s super black, dries very fast and is incredibly affordable. For some of you that can’t see the type, it’s Speedball Super Black India Ink. This is by far the best version of India ink I’ve ever used. I hope this company sticks around and keeps making this type of Ink. It seems as though as soon as you get comfortable with one type of ink the company goes belly up. Sorry have a tendency to ramble a bit sometimes. Btw, when I work I never dip my brushes or nibs directly into the big bottles. I prefer to pour a little quantity in a small bowl or container and work from there. It cuts down on messy spills and cleanups.
This is a nib holder and I have three of these babies for the nibs I use the most. Having multiples of these holders are a must for me, it saves on time and having to constantly search for the nibs. I just leave my nibs in their respective holders and go to work as I need them.
This is a 102 speedball crow quill nib, it’s very sharp and creates an incredibly thin line for drawing. You have to be careful though as it tends to bite into your boards if you don’t pay attention and use too much pressure. They also break very easily as well, so caution is advised when using.
Above is just 2 examples of the different size paintbrushes I use to fill in black areas while working on a piece of artwork. Truth be told I have over 40 brushes which I purchased very cheaply for under 20.00 Canadian wholesale. To this date I’ve never used all of them but I feel it’s good to have a backup just in case you need it.
Here are Pigma Micron pens which I use to replace a regular technical pen. They dry super fast and are acid free and never yellow. They also come in a variety of sizes and are extremely affordable. Personally my favourite type of Micron pen. They are made by Sakura and can be found at any decent art store or you can order online here: http The numbers I use are 01,02,03 and 05 and when you buy them in a 3 pack like this you end up saving quite a bit too.
Go here to find lightboxes: www.artograph.com
Yes I use a light box when I work. Why? It makes everything so much easier, along with speeding up the creation process. Once I get my template down, I then light box it directly to the board I’m working on and then once I finish my lines, I start to spot my blacks. Midway my artwork looks something like this:
Once I have a clear idea where all of my blacks will go that’s when I start to ink the piece. Sometimes as I ink I add in details that wasn’t there to begin with. Most of the times it works out. Here’s the finished version of “3 Zombies”.
For all of the detail work on this image I used a 01,02 and 03 Micron Pigma micron pens and then darken all of the lines around the black areas where I still haven’t begun to fill in the spaces with a 05 micron pen and then once I’m finished doing that I then fill in the blacks with a paintbrush. The size of the paintbrush varies, sometimes when I’m tired and I don’t have great eye-hand coordination I use a big flat nib, wish I could tell you the size but this nib has been with me the better part of 16 years and the numbers have rubbed off of it.
The same idea of working applies to commissions. Once I’ve worked out the details with the client I then proceed by doing an image without the blacks filled in and then show it to the client as a rough unfinished piece. if the client gives me the thumbs up I finish the piece of artwork and then get it ready to send out via the mail. Sometimes though a client might just ask for an electronic copy and in that circumstance I usually lower my prices considerably as I get to keep the original artwork.
Above is another example of how I work and here you can really see where the shadows will fall. Which I find is extremely important when you’re doing a piece of artwork that you want to get a very strong reaction from by people that may purchase your artwork.
Here’s the finished version. As you can see I did something a little bit different at the end of working on the artwork. I used some greys to try and give the artwork a bit more depth and make the foreground leap out more at you.
In this piece you can see a lot of the detail that goes into one of my drawings. Sometimes though it can be a real pain when you put this much detail continually on each piece of artwork.
Above, the finished version. Sometimes I look at it and can’t believe I put that much work into a piece of artwork. The best part was that it really didn’t take me that long to do it.
This is the last drawing I’ll be showing. It’s actually a commission of Freddy Krueger from Nightmare On Elm Street. I always hated drawing Freddy so, when I was asked to do this piece of artwork, I groaned, albeit internally. I would never complain to a client about a commission or their choice of what they wanted done.
And here’s the finished version below.
What a relief it was afterwards when I was finished. It was a major accomplishment for me. The challenge also was to have the image look like a typical shot of Freddy but at the same time make it fresh and different.
For anyone out there that asks why I use so much black in my work? Well to be honest when I was growing up we had only a black and white TV and I never even watched a color TV until I was in my late teens.
Sometimes when I’m getting ready to work on a page that’s giving me a hard time, I relax and then go watch TV and while I’m watching TV I take the color of the TV and watch it for a few minutes more. My brain then gets saturated by the black and white images and then I go to work.
Hope this helps anyone out there looking for the proper tools and maybe an idea or two about how to go about getting their work done.
In the latest offering from our company, Optimum Wound Volume 1, I have about 60 pages of artwork and story inside. Check on this site for ways to purchase said book if you like my work and the work of our collaborators. Here’s what the cover looks like.
Have a great week.