best of the drawing of the day, week 105– big black marker

Drawings of the day made away from home sometimes look a little different, since they are inked with tools you find in my traveling kit rather than the studio toolbox or the contents of the Coffee Cups of Doom and Art Supplies in the living room.  In this case, the medium is the message, and the inking tool itself is the subject of the drawing.

One of the things readers who are not artists may not think about is the variable nature of “black”.  There are really very few artistic processes that produce a  100% true black.  By their very nature these involve carbon, which is pretty much the blackest thing there is.  This means India ink (which is mostly pure carbon in the form of lampblack, plus a little water and some linseed oil and gum arabic) and laser printer/black and white copier toner (which is also mostly carbon powder that fuses to the page with heat) are about the only two easily accessible pure black media.  Everything else– marker and fountain pen black inks, black paint, and composite blacks from three color printing– all produce either various shades of grey or very dark shades of blue, green, purple, or brown.

The first image above, which is a full color scan of the original drawing, shows that my big black marker (it’s a Prismacolor) is not very black at all, and the marks it leaves are quite transparent.  Luckily, a little manipulation of the image in Paintshop Pro or the GIMP produces a proper black and white.  The second version of the drawing is the same scan with the color depth reduced to 2 colors/1 bit color, which turns each pixel into either a 1 (pure black) or a 0 (pure white). Then, after that version is saved, I save it again as a greyscale, which acts as antialiasing and gets rid of all the jaggies and smooths everything out. (Don’t ask me how this works: it does and I am grateful.)

This is what I do with all my art, including most of what you see here.  It enables me to use a variety of drawing tools, some of which leave marks that are only vaguely blackish, and end up with finished art that is a gorgeous dense black and white and which reproduces perfectly in carbon black on my laser printer.

(WordPress sent me a notification yesterday that we have passed a milestone: it has been two years since my first post on what is now a cartoonist in Kekionga. Yep– divide the number of posted weekly drawings of the day by two and you’ll come up with an extra one.  That’s calendars for you.  Anyway, thanks for reading for however much of that two years you have been doing so.  This blog will return.  Sometime tomorrow.)

This entry was posted in all about this blog, comics and cartooning, Kekionga news and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s