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Posts Tagged ‘ink’

If you’ve perused the photo library of the Gearpunk dice, you might have noted that the Zinc-finished dice are rather shiny, especially when compared to the brass and copper variants.

Gearpunk D10 Decader Antiqued Copper

Gearpunk D10 Decader Antiqued Copper

Gearpunk D10 Decader Antiqued Brass/Bronze

Gearpunk D10 Decader Antiqued Brass/Bronze

Gearpunk D10 Decader Zinc

Gearpunk D10 Decader Zinc

I’m partial to the antiqued look, both because I like the more rustic aesthetic, and because the antiquing makes the dice easier to read.  Since the factory managed to mangle our order’s quantities, we wound up with over 100 extra shiny Zinc D10 “decader” dice.  One of them seemed like the perfect test subject, then, to see what sort of simple inking options I might have.  I’ll be trying other experiments, but this is the initial test, which I’m pleased with.

I used Speedball “super black” India ink, water and a small hobby paintbrush.

Specifically, this ink:

Speedball Ink

And a brush a bit like the middle one here:

Small paintbrush

Though I picked up mine in a set of three at the local hobby store for $2.  It doesn’t need to be an expensive brush, just one that will hold a point when wet and is about 1/8″ in diameter or so.

I put eight drops of water and three drops of ink in a plastic cup for this experiment.  I diluted the ink to give myself a little time for the ink to dry.  When used straight, the ink dries fairly quickly, and I wanted a little wiggle room in case I messed up.  This experiment really doesn’t need a lot of ink, either.  I would have been fine with 1 drop of ink and 2 drops of water in retrospect, though it’s not a bad thing to have a bit more than necessary… and it’s not like a few drops really put much of a dent in my supply.  That’s the nice thing about this ink; it’s great to use, even when diluted.

I used the brush to pick up a bit of the ink, then gently applied it to the background behind the numbers on the die face.  The water tension naturally makes the ink settle into the recesses, though I did need to guide it around a little.  I added a little with a light touch to the other recesses in the design, and brushed lightly to help spread things around and get some ink in the smaller details around the edges and corners.

Since the ink does run a bit, I did only one face at a time, the one facing up and its edges.  Inking the adjacent faces would mean the ink would pool largely on the downhill side of the contours, and while I didn’t want a flat color, neither did I want it heavily lopsided.

Each face, then, took a few minutes to dry.  That’s not too bad, and if I were doing a set of dice, one face at a time per die, by the time I finished with the last die’s upright face, the first die could be ready to roll over and do the next face.  It’s best if you get each application dry before doing the next, so that timing might not work perfectly, but all in all, it wasn’t too much of a wait.

I’m sorry I didn’t have my camera handy to take photos while I was working, this project had to fit in some of my very constrained time last night and I wasn’t properly prepared.

Here are some photos of the finished die next to one of its unprocessed kin, in a variety of lighting situations (including one that’s just a color correction, taking the yellows out of an indoor photo).

s_IMG_7382 s_IMG_7383 s_IMG_7385 s_IMG_7380 s_IMG_7380_alt s_IMG_7381

I think it turned out well, much better than I had expected.  I’ll be doing more experiments when I can, but this was a good start, I think.

Thank you!

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Ballpoint Pen Art

Most of my art starts with a sketch in my sketchbook (if you look at the Buccateer, you can see the pen drawing), and almost all of them are done with ballpoint pens.  You can see other pen drawings over in my old mini portfolio thisaway, and interspersed here and there on the blog.

I find that drawing with pens makes me simultaneously more careful and more fluid, as well as faster and more accurate.  When I’m drawing with pens, I have to either get it right the first time or learn to incorporate my mistakes.  Once I made the switch from pencils (sadly, once I hit college… I wish I’d switched in high school or earlier), my line quality went up, my control over pressure was greatly improved, my ability to draw smooth curves and straight lines increased, and I learned to see what I was trying to draw better (especially figure drawings), as I needed to get it right, not relying on “fixing it in post“, as it were.

Dwarven Tinkerer, pure pen

I do sometimes sketch things out and then scan them into the computer, there to be cleaned up a little and/or painted under, making things like this… which was originally two sketches (the book was separate and I spliced it in) and a bit of Photoshop paint underneath.  I describe the process over thisaway, on the Puzzle Pirate forums (I really need to make one of those posts here, too, just to keep it in house).

Vargas the Not Yet Mad

To be sure, working with conte or charcoal helped as well, as those mediums are conducive to quick, loose drawings with a minimum of corrections.  I’ve done figure drawings with conte, charcoal, pencil and paint, and my best work wound up being with the nearly uncorrected conte.  (Yes, it’s nothing great as far as figure drawings go, but it’s my most presentable one.)

Male Seated Back

I think something similar would happen if I finally picked up oil painting.  I’ve done my fair share of watercolor painting, and I’ve learned to make them work fairly well for a variety of effects, but I hated them in junior high.  I pushed through it and tried a variety of techniques, and eventually wound up at least vaguely competent with them, but I’ve never done much with oils.  I’m a little intimidated by them and their appearance of being unforgiving.  (OK, their high cost doesn’t help.)  I know that I could learn control and develop skill with them, even though they can be tricky… I just haven’t put in the time yet.

Anyway, snippets of art wisdom aside, I’m mentioning all this mostly to point out this fascinating and very well-wrought series of pieces done entirely in ballpoint pen from a Mr. Samuel Silva.  His work puts my piddling little sketches to shame.

Ballpoint Pen Art by Samuel Silva

And the best part?  He’s a lawyer by day.  I really have to wonder, what would his art look like if he made a career out of it.  A big part of me thinks that it might suffer, actually, in accordance to what I noted earlier about work vs. hobbies, and doing what you do for love or for money.  Mr. Silva doesn’t do these pieces to make ends meet.  He does them because he can and because he wants to.  It seems to me that it worked out really well.

Sometimes the best art is art you do simply because you need to do it.  (Though sometimes, it’s perhaps best to… forbear some artistry.)

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