January 31, 2009

What do you do with a crappy old brush?

In my last post I told you how you must never, ever allow ink to dry in the ferrule, because it will ruin the brush by causing it to splay. But what do you do with a brush if that's already happened?

You've all seen Ghostbusters, right? Don't cross the streams?

When the world is about to end, it's acceptable to cross the streams to reverse the portal and blow the evil goddess back through the door she came in through, and if your brush is already good and fucked you can let ink dry wherever you want. Your brush is now a special tool that everyone should have: a drybrushing brush.

Do you not know what drybrushing is? Go read Blankets and come back. Okay, good. You can drybrush with any brush, but it's harsh on a good brush, and it actually doesn't work as well with a nice brush. To get really nice drybrushing you want a brush that wants to splay, that has no spring left in it at all, that's basically been reduced to a spindly mop. You take the brush, don't wet it, dip it in ink, and then doodle with it until the lines become scratchy and begin to break apart over the texture of the paper.

Play around with it! Your brush is already hell and gone, so you may as well try the craziest things you can. Here's just some of the the many distinct textures I was able to come up with in a minute using my poor, dead W&N:
Fantastic stuff, right? Imagine using them for wood, or rock, or water, or clouds.

You can make even, solid tones with drybrush if you're good, but there's a trick to it:

the beginning of the stroke is always darker, so if you want and even tone you need to work backwards so the lighter ends feather into the darker backs of the strokes, like in the above example. Of course, a creative person could find many interesting uses for the dark bands that occur if you overlap the strokes the other way.
Drybrush almost seems like a cheat, because it lends and drawing a kind of automatic motion and atmosphere. Look at these 20 second doodles I did to prove this point:
Wish almost no work at all the marks of the drybrushing itself makes the art seem alive and tangible. The rain feels thick and wet, the rocket seems to be speeding while in place.

Play around with drybrushing and see what you can do with it.

Next week: Cartoonists on their brushes

17 comments:

Eliza Frye said...

Thanks for this blog! I recently discovered it and am thrilled with all the tips I've already been able to integrate into my work. Fantastic tutorials. Much appreciated.

matt said...

That's some damned fine art you got there, Miss Eliza Frye. I'm always shocked and really pleased to see that much of my readership seems to be made up of professionals who, despite not being amateurs by any stretch, can still get useful information out of this. In cases like yours, where the artist makes ME look like an amateur, I just sort of goggle in disbelief that I have anything to contribute at all, and feel extra good abut it.

Eliza Frye said...

Aw gee, you are WAY too generous. But thanks. :) There's always more to be learned...

Ben Fox said...

Great how to on drybrushing. I have never really used this technique on paper, as you demo. It is great over texture, an invaluable way to add highlights easily or to make the texture really stand out in a different colour. Eg over dry glue, whatever. Good for detailing puppets, objects N' Stuff. I will try flat drybrushing for sure. Zombie brushes rise again..

matt said...

Huh. I've never heard of drybrushing on anything BUT paper.

Rivkah said...

You are officially the brush demo god. It's like . . . p*rn for brushes. But better.

matt said...

Thanks! And you get my totally ineffective censorship award. Is porn even a fucki*g swear word?

Rivkah said...

It's only censored to keep the lechers off your blog (and to make sure that anybody who ever tries to type "+rivkah +p*rn" never comes up with any results of MY doing).

Unless you want that, of course. The lechers that is.

Then again, I still say "the 's' word" instead of the ACTUAL word, as well, thanks to my father beating it out of me at the tender age of three. (which also somehow managed to convince me that my dad could also read minds) Took me eighteen years to say anything harsher than "darn" for fear of flaming hail come raining down on my head.

Old habits must die hard.

matt said...

I just spent the last ten minutes looking up all the definitions of leecher, and I'm not sure what they'd have to do with a blog with the word po*n on it. Could you elaborate?

In any event, given my regular use of language and metaphors that adult babies would term "colorful," I'm sure any such people would be here already.

Rivkah said...

You just aren't using the right dictionary: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lechers

matt said...

OHHHHHHH, LECHERS, not LEECHERS. My bad, I misread. This being the internet my mind assumed it was the internet term and added the extra e.

matt said...

Actually, if someone's typing "porn" and "drybrushing" into a search engine, they're probably someone I'd like to date.

Rivkah said...

Damn. A few states closer and I'd be yours. ;)

matt said...

Stupid, stupid geography!

Ben Fox said...

Hey Matt,

Check this good how-to page on drybrushing 3D stuff:

http://www.how-to-paint-miniatures.com/miniature_painting_drybrushing.html


it is for miniatures but works for lots of things big and small. Textured surfaces cloth, stone, etc.

matt said...

Huh, it's like some Honey I shrunk the Kids huge version of paper drybrushing. Thanks for the link and explanation!

Sarah said...

drybrushing IS my technique; thanks for championing it here! there's too much neatness in the comic world.

awesome blog matt!