Saturday, March 21, 2009

Speedball #102 Crow Quill Pen

It's time for another review, one that I know will be of little interest to my regular readers, but it's something I just have to write about.

Today I went to the local Hobby Lobby and bought myself a Speedball #102 crow-quill pen to try. Using a very traditional 'dip-pen' to ink my drawings with is something I've always been kinda curious about, but never tried because of how difficult it was supposed to be. To be honest, I didn't see much point in messing around with messy bottles of ink and a pen that requires a specific technique to use when I can buy a Faber-Castell or Pitt Pen that's as hard to use as a regular old felt-tip.

However, when I saw I could buy the set (The nib holder, nib and a small bottle of ink) for less than five bucks I figured I'd give it a try. To be completely honest I thought it would be something I'd try before it got relegated to the bottom drawer of my drawing desk.

…but after half an hour of experimenting with the pen I can honestly say that I never want to ink with anything else.

It is a little tough and I obviously haven't mastered it yet, but it's also a lot easier than I expected it to be. The hardest thing to get used to is the way you have to always draw the pen in one particular direction, especially after the 'freedom' of fine-liners or ball points. It's also a little difficult to get used to having to wait for the ink to dry, and a few times I found myself smearing the ink under my hand.

However, the line quality and variation you can get is amazing. After inking for so long with at least four or five different pens by my side, it's amazing to be able to go from a nice big fat line to hair-thin with the same pen. Also, having spent a year or so 'faking' line variation, being able to vary line thickness with pressure added a whole new dimension and sense of fluidity to my artwork that I just couldn't get with my Pitt pens.

Basically, I've spent the past two years looking at professionals' artwork and marveling at their line-quality and how some of their drawings seem to leap off the page…ten minutes with the crow-quill, while not instantly catapulting me to their level, let me understand exactly how they do what they do.

I can't recommend quill pens enough. While they'll probably take a serious investment of time to truly master, you can get the basic hang of them in a couple of hours, and the difference they make to your artwork is absolutely outstanding.


Sunny said...

Okay- I want to see an example of this artwork when I get home- and make sure you don't let it fall off the art-desk so you-know-who can chew it up like he did with that Spiderman one you did and I wanted to frame.

Stupid Mutt....or was that the cat???? Stupid aminals....

Rodney Mackay said...

Mapping pens and crow quills! In the 1950s when I was at art school technical pens were still unknown and ball-points leaked ink which was neither light-resistant nor waterproof. We learned to sketch in the studio and the field using Inia Ink and a crazy little, hard to hold, pen. I can still go from start to finish in 15 minutes; never drop ink, never smudge.

Llyn Hunter said...

Tripped onto your post. Had to giggle. I am a professional who loves pen and ink, and is being forced to draw on a Cintique tablet. Crow quills are visceral - so glad you discovered the joy of their line.
Note, if you have good paper, if you make a mistake, "sand" or scrape it away with the flat (not the point) of an exact-o-knife or razor blade, then clean it up alternately with a latex then a kneaded eraser. If it's a good bristol or hot press paper your drawing on, you should be able to redraw over the mistake area. Good luck!

csuggs said...

One of my teachers tried to convince me to use one to get better line variation... but when I broke my pen after one day of use, I "cheated" and started using different sized micron pens. I was happy with my work but after a while it started to look too precise and boring. Now I'm trying it out again and it's been interesting trying to sacrifice my usual perfectionism for it. But I think with practice it'll become one of my favorite tools.

Robert huggy said...
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