Palomino Blackwing – A Pencil By Any Other Name…

I do most of my professional work on a Cintiq these days. Even when I was still on a drawing board, I stuck with technical pencils to avoid all of the sharpening required with wood-cased pencils. Still, there’s a certain charm about using wood-cased pencils, so that’s what I often use when doodling chicken-scratches.

Now, a pencil is a pencil is a pencil, and at the end of the day the quality of your drawing is going to come more from your mind and hands than from the pencil. Nevertheless, your frame of mind can be affected by the satisfaction of using a particular tool that inspires you or makes your job easier. One pencil that has been given lots of attention because of its widespread use (especially by animators, writers, and composers) is the original Blackwing 602.

Given the big hoopla about the “new” Palomino Blackwing which are made in Japan (and I realize that “new” is a relative term, since I’m late to this party), I thought I’d try them out, so I bought a box at the Stuart NG booth while at the Comic Con last month. (these Blackwings are really more like reproductions and not from the original production 602s which were discontinued in the late 90’s. You can check out more about the original Blackwing HERE.)

Off hand, It’s a beautiful design if tool aesthetics is your thing, what with its unique ferrule design and replaceable eraser. I also picked up a two-step, long-point sharpener, since an electric sharpener eats up pencils and wastes too much lead. Lots of these type of hand-held sharpeners have cheap blades that break your lead or don’t really sharpen well, but the German-made blades on this work quite well, though I’m not sure where to purchase new replacement blades.

These pencils come in a nicely designed box of twelve. I no longer go through pencils like I used to, so I gave one to each of my kids to try out as well since they do a lot of drawing.

I didn’t have time to do a nice drawing with this pencil for the purpose of this post, but I wanted to show a comparison between a couple other good drawing pencils: the Schwan Stabilo 8008 and an old Faber Castell 9000 4B pencil made in Germay.

All three of the following pencils are really smooth. The Stabilo 8008 is probably the smoothest, but it’s the lightest in tone as well, so if you want a darker lead, the other two are better.

The nice thing about the Blackwing is that it’s both firm and dark (though this one is softer than the “new” 602). Usually, I find dark leads are too soft or grainy.

Surprisingly, I found the Faber Castell 9000 which I had fumbling around my tool drawer to perform as well or better than the Blackwing. In fact, I liked it so much that I went online to try to find more of these older versions, but I could only find two, each for slightly more than what the new Blackwing costs. They’re still manufactured, but I never know whether to trust newer models because it seems everyone’s manufacturing is done so cheaply now in order to cut costs. I’m not suggesting the new Faber Castell 9000s under production are not good. I just don’t feel like spending the money to find out. In any case, if I ever come across more of these older 4B 9000s, I’m grabbing them as fast as I can. In the meantime, the Blackwing works quite well and offers lots of drawing satisfaction.

I scrawled out a few swatches of each for comparison.

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Guitar Break #7

Never miss a chance to take a break and make some noise…

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Comic Con 2017 Badge

So my Comic Con badge arrived in the mail today. Here’s a video of the package opening.

I’m not sure why they’re mailing it in a box when an envelope would have been more than enough room and would have probably been less expensive to ship. Maybe they’re trying to counter the ticket-price sticker-shock with a somewhat pleasant badge package.

I wonder if people are already selling the box, pin, and and ephemera on ebay. I’ll probably save mine since this is the first year they’re doing this. I suspect as ticket prices increase, the fanciness of this package will get even more, er, um, “fancy-schmancy”?

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Procreate Quick-Sketch

I had a chance to try the Procreate on the iPad Pro 12″ all week during a business work-trip (the iPad isn’t mine, but my client provided it for my use on the road). I didn’t know Procreate exported videos, but when I was told about that feature, I just had to share this quick doodle I did on the airplane flight. Had I known that I was going to share it, I would have done a better job. In any case, here’s my first test with the iPad Pro and Procreate… I want one of my own!!!

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Wacom/Cintiq 24 HD Stylus Woes

So last night, the nib on my Cintiq 24 HD stylus seemed to submerge into the pen so that the tip was barely visible. I tried to pull it out a bit when suddenly the barrel of the pen separated a bit. I then grabbed the rubber grip and tried to push it back together and the rubber slid up the barrel, after which the lever button on the side of the pen popped out and onto the desk. When I tried sliding the rubber grip back into place, the entire pen came apart and tiny metal bits fell off that printed-circut board that you can barely see in this cruddy photo. So basically, my pen exploded all in the course of about a minute and there’s no way on earth I can get it back together. It’s toast.

Well, this happened around ten o’clock last night, so it was too late to call any stores. Early this morning, I found that no store on this planet sells these, or at least don’t keep them stocked in the store. Finally, I just ordered another online and it should be here when I return from my business trip. But this is just another reason technology can stink. We grow dependent on these fragile toys and are crippled without them. It’s a good thing I didn’t have any projects immediately due.

The lesson here is: Always use a timer when boiling an egg… or something like that.

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A quick doodle…

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Ruined Art

Frames cost a lot of money, especially when you have to have a custom sized frame made for an odd-shaped painting. This is why most of my paintings remain unframed. Consequently, I’ve stored a lot of them by simply stacking them against one another.

This raises a problem with oil paintings, because for some reason they seem to retain a certain tackiness — at least mine seem to have done so. Consequently, the oil paintings I did on canvas paper, which is essentially a coated paper with a canvas texture, haven’t fared so well. One of them in particular (which I painted for our kitchen but never got around to framing) I found to be completely ruined when pulling it out recently. Parts of the painting’s surface had stuck to the boards against which it rested and pulled away from the paper stock, which ripped large chunks from the painting. So now, maybe, some day, I’ll get around to recreating this painting… But I doubt it.

Before and after images. Thankfully I took a photo of the oil painting before it was ruined.

The lesson to be learned is, carefully store your art so that this doesn’t happen to you.

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Happy Easter Weekend

Here’s wishing you all a very happy resurrection Sunday with a little sketch to celebrate the empty tomb.

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Mood Sketches

I did this sketch as a sort of study in mood for a character idea I had some time ago. Doing these little tonal/colored sketches often proves to be more fun than a finished, polished illustration. There’s something that gets lost whenever I do a clean illustration verses the rough that inspired it.

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Doodling On the Run or “What To Do With That Blank Placemat”

Ever find yourself sitting in a restaurant with a blank paper placemat or a table covered in white butcher-paper while waiting for your meal to arrive? Or maybe you’ve found yourself sitting in an office waiting for an appointment or meeting while blank paper sat there asking to be filled? Who hasn’t been placed on hold on the phone while holding a pen in your hand and ended up scribbling on a post-it pad instead of cursing the automated phone system (or maybe doing both)?

Well, like most artists, a blank sheet presents an opportunity to quickly scribble whatever comes to mind. I’ve spent many a product-development meeting ignoring the conversation and doodling caricatures of the people sitting across from me, sharing them with the guy next to me just to get a laugh (who hasn’t)?

In any case, I almost always toss those scribbles, but once in a while I’ll scan them before throwing them away. I’m not sure why I scan them, but the ones I did from my old job have served to bring back a memory or two, so I’m glad I kept them.

So here are some samples of doodling on the go. These are not works of “art” or meant for public consumption. Most are sloppy and poorly executed given the time I had to scratch them out. But in case you wonder what I do with that butcher-paper covering the table before I splatter spaghetti sauce all over it, here you go…

So the image below are caricatures of folks sitting across from me at our weekly product development meetings when I worked in the studio at Cast Art Industries. None of these doodles are meant to disparage anyone. It’s just a lot of friendly goofing around. These are all great folks.

The following are pages of doodles I did on either copy-paper sitting around or a pad on which I had to write device numbers while doing some side-work for a buddy.

So what do you doodle for fun?

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