While visiting Columbia, California earlier this year I really wanted to sit down and sketch some of the old buildings and other artefacts. That never worked out and so I had to settle for photographs instead.
I decided to make sketches based on some of those photos. I tried adopting a more loose and sketchy style. In the past, for ink sketches, I tend to work out a lot of the sketch in pencil beforehand, drawing these very lightly with an HB grade pencil and then go back over those lines with ink. With these sketches, I largely abandoned that approach, opting instead to do little to no pencil preparation.
The first sketch is of an old barn. I pencilled in the basic construction lines in pencil to get the proportion and perspective right and then used my Lamy Safari for everything else.
With the Columbia Gazette building, I didn’t draw out any construction lines at all. It is a simple shape with no perspective to speak of and so construction lines aren’t really necessary here in any case. Some of the lines I’ve drawn are a bit wobbly, not exactly ruler straight. Actually, looking at it again pretty much everything has a wobbliness to it but I think that is part of the charm of sketches made in this way. Again, I used my Lamy Safari.
This is an admittedly rough sketch of what was originally a cottage that was burnt down multiple times before being reconstructed for the last time in 1960. I believe it is currently used mainly as a training venue. This was completed mainly using Pigma Micron pens.
The sketch was completed in a new Stillman and Birn Zeta series sketchbook, in the square 7″ x 7″ format. It’s a sketchbook which I purchased eight or nine months ago now but I’ve been afraid to use it, for the simple reason that I didn’t feel that I should use a quality sketchbook like this until I felt I could produce something worthwhile. I should mention that Stillman & Birn sketchbooks are among the best sketchbooks currently available. I’ve realised for a while that with that kind of attitude the sketchbook was going to be sitting on a shelf gathering dust for a long, long time. So I’ve decided that I need to just start using it regardless of whether I felt my sketches were worthy or not.
I’ve again used pen and ink but have opted instead to use a water-soluble ink. This was something new for me which I was keen to try out. With pure pen and ink, the impression of tone is created using strokes alone. With the water-soluble approach, the drawing is built using strokes as before but then, when you are ready, you dip a brush in water and then brush over the pen strokes. Some of the ink in the strokes is released and can be used to create an ink wash of sorts.
I used an inexpensive Pro Arte synthetic watercolour brush which I’ve reserved for working with ink. The pen work was completed using a Pilot G-Tec-C4 0.4mm rollerball, which of all the pens I have available seemed to work best. Before I started the drawing I performed a quick test using several pens and inks I had available. The results are shown below.
The De Atramentis document ink was completely waterproof, as expected.
The Pilot G-1 gel ink rollerball pen produced very good results. It doesn’t however, produce as fine a stroke as the G-Tec-C4. It also has blue ink, which I wasn’t particularly keen on using (there is a version of this pen with black ink but I don’t have this).
The Pentel Hybrid (K105) worked well. It produces a finer stroke than the Pilot G1 but not quite as fine as the G-Tec-C4.
The Mitsubishi Uni-Ball UMR-85N, a gel ink ballpoint cartridge, also worked well with a stroke with similar to the Pentel. It perhaps doesn’t release quite as much ink.
Sakura Pigma Micron pens use waterproof ink so brushing over the marks made with this pen has no effect at all.
The Pilot G-Tec-C4 produces a lovely fine stroke and it also releases a good amount of ink.