November 5, 2006

Ryan Dunlavey

Comics: Action Philosophers, Tommy Atomic, Prophecy Anthology, Royal Flush, Wizard, Toyfare, Disney Adventures, lots of minis.
Making comics since year of: just for fun since 1989, seriously since 1998
Art education/schools attended:
BFA in Illustration - Syracuse University
Animation classes - School of Visual Arts


Pencils: Col-erase pencils, Red and Blue. I started using these after I took some animation classes, they’re awesome, and draw well on just about any kind of paper from expensive bristol to cheap copier paper. I’m pretty heavy-handed and when I use regular graphite pencils it tends to smear all over the place. Col-erase are waxyier and you can build up lines over and over without having to erase or destroying the paper. A lot of animators use them – I love ‘em. I’m not a big fan of mechanical pencils, I like wood - I've got a Panasonic electric pencil sharpener that's 15 years old now and still works great.

Inks: I mostly use brush pens and markers, but I always try to get ones with permanent black ink - not water based. Japanese markers seem to have the best ink. When I use a real brush I use this Chinese calligraphy ink that’s really cheap and comes in big bottles. It’s made to be watered down, but I use it strait out of the bottle – it goes down very smooth and dark and it NEVER ruins my brushes.

Brushes: I mostly use brush pens – I’ve tried all the brands and my favorite is the farber-Castell PITT artist pen, it’s the closest I’ve found to a real brush and the ink is nice and dark. When I ink with a real brush I use a cheap synthetic’ #2 size and I save the expensive sable brushes for watercolors and dyes. I also have an old toothbrush that I use for spattering and other effects.

Pens: I only use markers. I like to switch up the brands I use from time to time - right now I use Alvin Penstix markers - .05mm and .03mm weights mostly. I like these for drawing a lot more than other markers because the ink is permanent and won’t “grey out” when you erase the pencil lines later, and the pen tip is flexible nylon so you can vary the line weight. They last a long time too. Copic multiliners are pretty good too, it’s a Japanese felt-tipped marker. I avoid those stupid Microns pens at all costs – the ink in them sucks and runs out too fast and they’re uncomfortable to hold. My tools are not glamorous or exotic. I don’t use dip pens or crow quills because I’m a total slob and always put down the line too thick and totally smear them. Markers are also easier to hold than a crow quill (no hand cramps!) and very low maintenance – no clean-up time, just snap the cap back on when you’re done.
To fill in large black areas I use chisel-tip Sharpie markers. I also use this thing "Sanford Peel-Off China Marker" to make rough textures and tones – it’s like a big black crayon pencil - it's perfect for drawing smoke clouds and rough rock, pretty cool.

Paper: Strathmore Smooth Bristol, 11 x 14 is pretty much all I use - it comes in pads of 20. I cut it in half when drawing mini comics and web comics, but I use the full page when drawing for print. I also use this stuff called "Paris bleedproof paper" that comes in big pads. I've only seen it at Pearl Paint here in New York City – it’s slightly thinner and slicker than Bristol and a LOT cheaper – the problem is that you can only really use markers on it - bottle ink will smear or just not get absorbed by the paper. Once in a while I have to draw traditional comic book size (11 x 17), for that I use a brand called Eon – - best comic book paper I’ve ever seen, and cheap too!

Lettering: I do all my lettering on the computer after I scan in the artwork. I actually prefer the look of my hand-lettering but I don’t do it because it takes too long and I always mis-spell words. I’m looking into getting a font made of my hand-lettering.

Color: Always on the computer – Photoshop - gives me way more control over color choices, saturation, etc. On the rare occasions when I do traditional color art I use a bastard combo of colored markers, watercolors, dyes, colored pencils and Chinese ink – I guess you would call it “mixed media”.

Layout/ Composition: I always have a full script, even the stuff I write myself, and I do thumbnail layouts right on the script pages then do the layout really loosely on the full-sized pages before I start full pencils. I draw in word balloons lightly in pencil so I know I have enough room when I letter it in the computer later, and so I don’t waste time drawing in unnecessary details that the lettering is going to cover up anyways.

Convention Sketches (when different from illustrations done in the studio): I hate drawing at cons. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my convention drawings will never look as good as the stuff I do at home, so I only do sketches in Sharpie markers or with a col-erase pencil – in other words, as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Tool timeline, starting from when you began drawing in any serious way until the present, and what spurred the changes:
1989: Non-photo blue pencils, Speedball dip pens, brushes, bristol paper, sheets of zip-a-tone. Speedball pens hurt my hand like a mofo but I stuck with them anyways because I'm a moron. I was doing a lot of mixed-media painting at this point.
1994: Learned photoshop, use it for coloring and half-tone effects.
1998: Switched from crow quills to markers, production speed and enjoyment of drawing increased dramatically. Started pursuing cartooning seriously and getting more freelance work – not a coincidence. Stopped painting.
1999: Bought my first Wacom tablet, coloring skill increases dramaticly.
2004: I figured out how to “ink” using a Wacom tablet, only use it for small illustrations and corrections.
2006: Started using brush pens more, makes art look better and easier to use than a traditional brush.

What tools you'd never use, and why: Rapidograph tech pens – no variable line weight, hard to keep clean, just an all-around pain in the ass. I don’t sketch or draw on the computer because I find it takes longer and is much harder than doing it the old-fashioned way. Your mileage may vary.

And lastly, any advice you'd like to give: Always look for new drawing tools that make things easier or faster or better looking than what you’re already doing. Use a Wacom tablet if you’re going to make art on the computer, even just coloring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Evil Twin was the funniest comic eer published by the Daily Orange! Grat to see you're still working.