Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Pencil or Pen?
Pencil or pen? Which tool is right for the job?
Granted this is a highly personal choice for every artist and in many cases may seem dictated by the subject matter that you're sketching. Nevertheless I have found a few universal truths that might help if you're on the fence with this choice.
In my early days I sketched exclusively in pencil. My eraser was my best friend and I used it liberally. Eventually I dared to sketch directly in pen, with no erasable safety net. Since then I have grown to love pen sketching and actually prefer it in most cases.
Here then, I offer a few pros and cons that I have encountered for each option.
1. Extremely forgiving and allows for easily correctable mistakes (erasing). Great for sketching difficult or unfamiliar subjects.
2. Very versatile with developing tones (degrees of light and dark, shading).
3. Won't leak or blotch
4. Responds well to the pressure of the hand (light or dark lines).
Pencil - Cons
1. Dark, permanent lines are difficult to achieve making scanning and reproduction more complex.
2. Easily erasable lines can create a crutch for an artist and weaken discipline/draftsmanship.
3. Smudges and may require fixative at an extra expense to the artist.
4. When dropped, a pencil lead can shatter not only the tip but also in multiple places inside the wood.
Pen - Pros
1. Dark, permanent lines make scanning and reproduction easy.
2. Ink (which cannot be erased) forces an artist to make clear choices and draw with greater thought and certainty.
3. Tips won't break when dropped.
4. Won't smudge and lends itself well to the addition of color or other media.
Pen - Cons
1. Very unforgiving and makes sketching difficult or unfamiliar subjects an even greater challenge.
2. Might blotch or leak.
3. Less versatile with developing tone.
4. Some pens can dry up without warning leaving the artist without a tool to sketch with.
Ultimately it is my view that an artist committed to personal growth should be well versed in both pencil and pen. However, I hope this list is helpful if you should find yourself in a situation where you must (or simply want to) choose just one option.
Now if only our society could agree on a resurgence of fanny packs, I could carry all my options with me all the time!
What has your experience been? I'd love to hear some more pros and cons! Drop me a line!
Posted by Nathanael Lark at 11:08 PM