Dip Pens


Photos of famous cartoonists always show them holding a dip pen. Alison Bechdel uses dip pens. Charles Schulz loved a particular dip pen nib so much, when the company was shutting down, he bought up the remaining nibs (or so the story goes) and now the nibs he stockpiled get auctioned off on Ebay.

When it comes to dip pens, I’m less like Charles Schulz and more like Charlie Brown.

strip shared via the charles schulz museum account on twitter: https://twitter.com/schulzmuseum/status/1165625000864428034?lang=fr

I drew the line art for my graphic novel, The Real Riley Mayes, with brush markers. They’re disposable brush markers called “Fudemoji” made by Pentel. The ink is similar to sumi ink. It dried quickly on the page, and held up to alcohol markers, which I used to color the pages. It took over a year to make all the pages for the graphic novel. By the end of making all that art, I really want to try some new tools. Plus, I have… a lot… of plastic marker bodies leftover… probably enough to make a plastic lawn chair? That’s embarrassing.

So, for the next few blog posts, I’ll share my Awkward Adventures in Art Tools! Starting with dip pen nibs, and a thick black permanent ink called Deleter #4.

When I’m not using a nib, I put in in a Dr Pepper bottlecap. There is no reason for this behavior.

After about a week or two of practice, here’s my very limited advice regarding dip pens:

  • If you don’t want the pen to sound like an orthodontist scraping dental cement off your teeth, sand the nib a bit using the very-very-super-fine sandpaper that comes with it.
  • Wear black clothes, unless you wanna look like you just changed your car’s air filter
  • Dip up to the hole in the nib, but not past there. The little hole holds the ink so you can draw longer.
  • Rinse the nib every 2-3 dips, especially if using waterproof ink. Otherwise, the ink dries on there, and the dried ink blops up all the little engraved lines that help the ink flow, and it will drip on the page.
  • Remember to breathe air in and out. Of your nose. Or your mouth. I’m not picky.

Here’s some line art I made with the dip pen and Deleter ink. It’s a great heron. The GREATEST heron.

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