Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quick-Sketch Portrait Tools

This set of water-soluble colored pencils and water brushes is all you need for sketching people in the wild.

You can order Caran d'Ache Supracolor 11 pencils individually at Dick Blick. The colors shown here are:
035 Ochre 
037 Brown Ochre 
045 Vandycke Brown
063 English Red
159 Brown
009 Black
407 Sepia
155 Blue Jeans

The four waterbrushes are medium or large size rounds, made by Niji, which you can get from Amazon

They're filled with 1. Water, 2. Higgins Eternal Ink, 3. Higgins Sepia Ink , and 4. Sheaffer Skrip blue ink
These inks are non-waterproof, which allows them to be dissolved after they are dry, and they protect the life and flow of your waterbrush.

It also helps to have a kneaded eraser and a pencil sharpener that will catch the shavings. The sketchbook should be something that can take water media, such as a Moleskine watercolor journal


Phil said...

Hi James,

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and art with us. I was curious to see if you might recommend a daylight lamp for working on your art at night. At the moment, I'm relatively nomadic so I don't have the space for a big combo lamp nor a desk to attach it to.

Thanks again for your time!

Philip said...

Hi James,
Thanks for sharing the portrait and quick-sketch technique.
Could you please explain whether you dilute out the ink in the waterbrush (if so by how much 50%?) or use it neat and dilute it with water from the waterbrush containing water?


Diana Moses Botkin said...

Love the "sketching people in the wild" designation...and your lovely sketch of this interesting face. He looks pretty tame, however.

Tom Hart said...

Thanks for this, James. I love your materials posts. How different would the selection be if you were going to use the w.c. pencil and waterbrush combo for landscapes or cityscapes?

veich said...

Hello James,

Thank you for sharing information about the tools you are using. Some technical questions:
- How do you find using waterbrushes with inks or coloured water?
- Is it easy to clean waterbrushes after using with ink or colour?
- Does ink or dissolved colour block liquid from flowing through control valve in waterbrush after some time?
- How good does cap protect brush's tip from drying?

James Gurney said...

1. As long as the colorant is water-soluble, it won't gum up the brush. I've used watercolor and fountain pen inks, but prefer the fountain pen inks because the size of the colorant is finer.
2. Yes, the fountain pen ink cleans out of the water brushes just fine. Also, if you pick up ink with your clear waterbrush, it will clear out on its own.
3. I haven't had a problem with that, but people who have tried waterproof inks have told me that they can clog.
4. The cap is good on the Niji--holds on well, and keeps the brush from drying--unless you store them a really long time.

James Gurney said...

Tom, I would probably bring a couple more greens and some blues for landscape. For landscape I might like smoother, flat washes for skies and distant mountains, so I really like to combine watercolor for that.

James Gurney said...

Philip, you can do it either way. I tend to like to use the ink full strength, but I have also used dilutions, such as for a light gray tone. You can use a hypodermic needle or an eyedropper to get the ink into the handle.

James Gurney said...

Phil, you might check out the OTT lamps, which have a pretty good color rendering index, and some of them are quite portable. Other than that, look for fluorescents or LED lights with a high CRI (color rendering index). The closer to 100% the better. Traditional incandescent and cool white fluorescent lights aren't too good.

Tom Hart said...

Re: Phil's lighting question - I have a light that was somewhat in vogue quite a few years ago, and that is (perhaps) a cheaper alternative to one of the larger OTT lights. The light combines a flourescent with a incandescent light bulb - the thinking back then was that the former gave a cooler light and the latter gave a warmer light, somewhat balancing each other out. I suspect the result isn't as good as an OTT light, though. Any thoughts on that?

Jacob A Stevens said...

I'd love to see a similar convenient kit for landscape sketching!

Leif said...

Very useful post about materials, thank you.

I've been wondering for a while: What's with all the excitement about Moleskine? There have been sketch pads and blank books of all sorts of fine brands available for many years. All of a sudden (last couple years anyway) I keep hearing about Moleskine, like there's something special about it. Is this a fad, or is there something unique about it?

James Gurney said...

Leif, good point. There's nothing that special about the Moleskine books, and there are now some good alternative brands for book-bound sketchbooks. I actually don't very much like the Moleskine drawing book because the paper is too slick and waxy. But I haven't recently found any other maker that produces a comparable sewn-bound book with watercolor paper for a competitive price, so I've been sticking with the Moleskine.

worms said...

Strathmore makes these which are similar to the moleskines:

I've got one right now and it seems similar to its moleskine equivalent. It comes in different sizes too. The real benefit is that it's available at michael's, and with their frequent sales and coupons can be had for less than sticker price.

JoopaDoops said...

I'm shopping for a comparable quick sketch set to try this out on an upcoming trip. Dick Blick is out of the Blue Jeans pencil until December. What would you recommend as its replacement?

Linda Navroth said...

[I know this is an older post, but I just found it.] You said you use "non-waterproof" inks--but Higgins Eternal ink is permanent--which means waterproof, does it not? I assume you've been using it for some time and have had no clog problems? Curious, as I'd love to try it but don't want to wreck my new waterbrush!

James Gurney said...

I know it's confusing, but Higgins Eternal is permanent in the non-fading sense, but it's water-soluble after you put it down because if you wet it it will run again. Doesn't hurt the brush the way india ink would.

shabnam bhagat said...

At Dream Thanks for this amazing content.