Art Materials

I plan on posting tutorials about scanning/cleaning up traditional art and eventually some on making digital art. But first I should really cover the materials you want to be using. Now the decision on what tools you should use mostly comes down to what you’re comfortable with and what produces the look you’re after. I can tell you right now that certain materials are inferior, and they will be in an archival sense if you plan on preserving your originals, (Something I recommend for various reasons) but you might find you like their effects. I recall Paul McCartney saying the Beatles would overlay large numbers of tracks using a 4 track recorder by bumping previous tracks onto one and starting fresh. This resulted in a loss of quality but they liked that effect and it worked for them.
This is where most traditional art begins. If you’re drawing for reproduction, it’s good advice to start larger than the size of your final print. Partly because you give yourself more room to work with and partly because reducing your original tends to tighten the image quality. As for the type of paper you should be drawing on, you want something acid-free, preferably it should say “archival” on the package, but even common copy paper should store decently under proper conditions provided it’s acid-free. (In a dry environment, out of extreme temperatures and direct sunlight, kept flat) Penciling on copy and sketch book paper is fine but if you’re going to use ink you’d do yourself a favor to use something heavier. Cardstock and cardboard are good options, though bristol board has become something of a standard. Texture should also be kept in mind. Some artists like a rougher paper surface because it gives the line more character. Other folks like tighter control of their line quality. If you’re going to be using markers, marker paper is preferable because other types of paper tend to act like cotton and suck up the ink.
India ink is usually your best choice here. If the package says “archival” it’s preferable over “permanent” because most permanent inks are anything but. If you want to use ballpoint pens, Papermate comes highly recommended. Bic are a cheaper alternative, but they have a tendency to run and blot. I’m not too crazy about ballpoints because it takes so long to cover a large area properly with them and their ink tends to be shiny and reflective or sometimes more of a blue than a true black. But with enough time, patience, and skill, you can do some interesting things with them. Gel and felt tip pens are usually a step up. Sharpies are popular but remember they can fade or change color over time so you probably don’t want to use them for production. They also tend to run and you need to use them in a well ventilated room or else you will get a nasty headache. Zig makes some nice technical pens. Sakura also makes a wide range of inking solutions. I personally recommend their Pigma Microns. They have a brush pen but it’s not as nice as the Faber-Castell version. For markers I prefer Prismacolor, (note: does not play well with Chartpak markers. Don’t mix the two or they’ll dry out a lot faster) though Copic has a loyal following in the manga scene. Remember any marker use should be in a well ventilated room. On the higher end of disposable pens you have the Rapidoliner which is refillable. And the Rapidograph is the closest a tech pen gets to a traditional crowquill dip pen or the legendary Winsor-Newton Series 7 Sable brush.