Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Mario Balotelli

Uni Pin fineline pens + Goldline Bristol Board paper

I've always enjoyed a love/hate relationship with creating pen & ink caricature work, though I must say its downsides are in no way linked to a misguided view that digital art is superior. It's more to do with the fact that anything (be they malfunctioning computers or poor materials) that retard the speed of creating the image is incredibly frustrating and can also cause an inferior execution when drawing traditionally.

I'm old enough to have have been using traditional materials for a long time before I started down the digital route, but since I started sketching and inking digitally, I've rarely gone back to traditional (unless commissioned to do so) because despite my long experience with it I could never quite get the equipment to work faultlessly, and for me, working faultlessly only 80% of the time is no good. In the past, I inked artwork by toggling between traditional dip pen and rotring pens. Both are great and provided subtle differences in finish, but despite many hours over many years they never proved perfect as the ink flow was always interrupted by the slightest blockage. Even when making sure that the equipment in both approaches were scrupulously clean and all surfaces free from skin contact, flow would always get interrupted and the lines making up my cross-hatching would get scraggier and the whole image would suffer as well as protracting the whole process.
When cross-hatching I always seek to avoid broken flows, i.e.: the line starts and finishes exactly where I want it to. If you go back to fill in breaks it is not only time consuming, you'll also never get it accurate and the line will look wobbly and unsure. If you have a whole image made up of bad lines then the image will look poor regardless of how great your other drafting skills are. A good clean arc or straight line is what you want to get the full effect. This is paramount when inking traditionally as there's no second chance - with digital, of course, you can immediately erase a bad line and re-draw.

So recently I have been buying new pens to experiment with to see if I can bury this old problem.  I bought some fine line markers (by Uni Pin) having always been a bit snobbish when considering them in the past. However, I've found that on Goldline Bristol Board paper they work a charm and give a good finish. They're water proof and they're permanent - both must-have qualities.

Now, with an invigorated spirit and in-love once more with traditional inking tools, I created the above caricature of Mario Balotelli and will be looking to do some more trad images very soon, hoping to polish up my technique.

If you want to buy the original it will be for sale on the 'Art For Sale' page very soon.
Thanks for checking in.


  1. I love the way you've got Mario's hair looking like it was just on fire.
    (I've been drawing with them Uni Pin pens for a while now. At the moment I'm using them on Daler Rowney Bristol Board, very good.)

    1. Many thanks, Mick. Yeah, loving those recent ink drawings you've been posting. Thrilled to have you checking in.