Friday, July 20, 2012

In Praise of Black Prismacolor Pencils

In an experimental phase, I decided to take a page from manga artist Mark Crilley’s sketchbook and try using a black Prismacolor pencil instead of ink for some preliminary manga sketches. I keep a jar of black and white Prismacolor pencil stubs in my closet for just such experiments. I brought them out tonight to try a quick sketch of a well-known actor I saw on the web. (I would tell you who it was but I changed enough of him to make him look quite different.)  Here’s the result…
Manga boy (black Prismacolor pencil)
This was the second drawing I’ve done using a black Prismacolor pencil instead of ink and I must say that I was quite pleased with the result. Faster and easier than ink, the wax-based Prismacolor pencils should also resist watercolor pencils and markers, giving me an easy way to color the sketches. Of course, ink is still my preferred medium for more finished pieces, but the pencil seemed to work well for something both fast and easy. It also gave me pretty good depth of color. More on this to follow…

Friday, July 13, 2012


"Winnie," Tombow and Pitt Pens in a Moleskin Journal
This is Winnie, a lovely Quarter Pony owned by Eva Jacroux. Winnie is one of those super-star ponies who has seen and done everything. As all old horsepeople know, these are the kinds of ponies that are worth their weight in gold. :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Which are my favorite sketching tools right now?

Hands on hips, this was the question I asked myself the other day as I took stock of the many types of pencils, paints, markers, etc. that I saw lined up before me. For outdoor sketching adventures, I’ve created several small kits that I rotate through depending on what I’m feeling like that day. My three favorite sketch kits are 1. a small pen & ink and watercolor kit, 2. a small fast-sketch kit with various stumps and graphite pencils, and 3. a watercolor pencil/Neocolor II kit (my most recent favorite.)

I thought I might further refine my sketch kits further based on what tools I’m having fun using right now. But how best to check on the fun level for each tool? I decided to create a test of sorts for myself. I started by drawing a new coloring book page that I would then color with different tools. That would show me which tools would best fit my current needs. This also would also help me organize a new palette of colors for the kinds of outdoor places where I tend to sketch (horse farms, local NW scenes.)

It was a fun exercise.

Here is the line drawing I used. I photocopied the image several times onto heavy, white cover stock pages for my test.
A new pen & ink image to color.
Coloring page #1 - Tombow Dual Brush Pens and Pitt Design Pens (magic markers). I liked the look of this colored image. I thought it was very cute. I think that markers might give my sketching scenes something of an illustrative quality.
This image was colored with Tombow Dual Brush Pens and Pitt Design Pens.
Coloring page #2 - Neocolor II watersoluble crayons. I liked the look of this page too but there’s a problem with using crayons in the Summer…they melt in hot cars! Frequently, my sketch kit sits in the trunk of the car for hours until I get a moment to sketch.
This image was colored with Neocolor II crayons.
Coloring page #3 - Inktense watersoluble pencils. Inktense pencils are really cool for several reasons. The first is that their pencil leads are made of watersoluble ink. After the ink has been wet once it will never be watersoluble again. So you can build up your image without moving or changing the underlying layers. I find that the transparency of the Inktense colors also works especially well with pen & ink drawings. As another fun feature, the colors are extra bright.
This image was colored with Inktense watersoluble pencils.
Coloring page #4 - watercolor pencils (Cretacolor and Supracolor). These are the pencils that I have been using in one of current sketch kits. They are very user friendly, travel well, and lay down good color either dry or when wet with a waterbrush. Although the look isn’t as bright as with the Inktense pencils they are more versatile for many subjects.
This image was colored with Cretacolor and Supracolor watercolor pencils.
So which ones where the most FUN to use?

The results were an essential tie! I have to give the nod to both the Tombow/Pitt markers and the Cretacolor/Supracolor watercolor pencils. I think both will serve my needs very well and are very fun to use.
Evening update!

I have since created two new sketch kits – one with the markers and one with the colored pencils and I’ve bundled them together into the same little carry bag. Now I feel ready for all sorts of new adventures! Tally ho!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Horse Life 18

Horse Life 18 is here! Finally. Yay!
This cartoon is part of an on-going series I’m calling “Rules of the Road,”  the full title of which is “Rules of the Road: A Standard Guide to Riding.”  I’m having a lot of fun with these. The text is all traditional, straight out of riding manuals from the 1970’s and before. The advice given is all good and proper BUT making it work for you as a rider is another thing entirely. It all looks good on paper but when you’re out there with your pony or horse, all bets are usually off! After more than 40 years as a rider, I know what I’m talking about. Believe me! All the same, the fun is in the joke of it. We all want to be Velvet Brown from “National Velvet” and we all end up being characters from Thelwell cartoons instead. Although it wasn’t always true, at this point I’ve learned to see the humor in it and appreciate the not-so-subtle joke. ;-)

Click HERE to see Horse Life 18 on my website.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Just a quick note and a sketch from yesterday. While waiting to pick up my dear friend, Tracy, after her seminar in Seattle on Sunday, I started sketching a plant in the hotel lobby. Sure enough, my friend appeared before I had finished drawing two leaves. I took a snapshot of the plant to finish later at home. Here's the result, a simple pen sketch with a watercolor pencil background. I decided to give the color to the background and not the plant. To me, the background color still gives the impression of green leaves.