Photorealism technique with pen and ink part 1

By Jason Thibault,

This article was originally posted on Myspace back in 2006. It was sitting lost in their archives not doing anyone any good so I ported it over here to our homepage. This was one of the techniques that I was playing around with a few years ago. I now use a digital camera to take most of my reference these days and miss using my old Nikon FM but I still do everything else by hand.

A Word on Technique,
I’ve gotten a couple of dozen emails asking how we do what we do. Rich has his techniques and I have mine. I utilize at least 3 if not 4 different ways to achieve my end results and I thought I’d shed some light on one of them. This took me 5 years to figure out. I read every interview I could find with the masters, Tim Bradstreet and John Van Fleet. Whatever knowledge I was missing, I emailed artists directly with specific questions and several of them graciously took time out of their day to fill in my gaps.

Photo Reference: I use an old Nikon FM manual camera with 28mm & 50mm lenses to take reference photos. I’ll sometimes use T-Max 400 ASA film for clarity, but more often Ill shoot high-speed black and white film, usually 1600 Fuji or 3200 Ilford Delta. I’m experimenting with digital cameras, but as of yet haven’t used one for the comic.

The Toolbox: I mainly lay down lines with a Hunts 102 crow quill nib, and thicker lines with a 108. I also use a variety of others for different effects and a mechanical pencil for initial work. For mopping in blacks I use an old shitty $3-dollar brush and for finer feathering I’ll employ a much costlier Windsor & Newton Series 7 NUMBER 2. Ink is strictly supplied by Koh-I-Noor. I swear by it.
brushes-pens-pencil
Pictured above from top to bottom. Windsor and Newton Series 7 Number 2, holder with Hunts 108 nib, holder with wide flat edged calligraphy nib (for panels borders), cheapo number 2 watercolor brush, holder with Hunts 107 nib, Staedtler Mars 780 mechanical pencil.
Paper: 2-ply illustration board, usually Canson acid-free smooth, or if I’m feeling particularly rich I’ll buy Strathmore 500 series boards and have them cut down to 11″ by 17″ sheets.
I take the reference photos and grab the elements I want from them. I consider this my “first stage” and get the outline down tight. Then the madness ensues. Filling in every little shadow and detail. But this is the path that I took.
I grabbed this photo of a demolished hospital in Montreal.
hospital-demolition-photo001
I did the outline, which in this case almost drove me insane (the brick work in the background).
pen-and-ink-swat-demolition-one
Then I composited in the SWAT team during the final stage.
pen-and-ink-swat-demolition-two
Theres a dozen different ways to go about it, and this is just one of them. Here are 2 more examples with original photo, first stage outline and final illustration.
Rich-Big-Mike-photo001
pen-and-ink-big-mike-rich-1st-stage
pen-and-ink-big-mike-rich-2nd-stage
Brenda-Leaves-photo001
pen-and-ink-brenda-leaves-1st-stage
pen-and-ink-brenda-leaves-2nd-stage

Comments

  1. admin says

    No it doesn’t go into intense detail but we’re just getting warmed up. The next few will be in much more of a step by step approach.
    -Jay

  2. linzeb says

    I reckon it’s O.K. the outline captures the feel of the photo and the filling in completes the scenario

  3. says

    I think this had some good insight into how you make your work.

    What’s amazing is that you use film! I think there must about million advantages working that way that some digital folks might now see. I think the downside maybe cost but with what your getting out, that negligible

  4. admin says

    We’re using mostly digital these days as well. The cost became too much. But I still output to film as much as possible. Just on a printer as opposed to going to a photolab.
    -Jay

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