So awhile back Comic Tools reader and skilled brush-fu practitioner Sarah Musi (The link is to her blog, which has her art and which you should go see) said in the comments that she had bought a bunch of Rosemary & Co. brushes, and I asked her if she'd mind reviewing them, as she'd bought several kinds I've never tried before and a few that I had. Well, on top of being a good artist she's also got impeccable timing, because she sent me her reviews right after I announced my sick leave this week. Here's what she sent me:
This was the first bit of work I did using Rosemary & Co. kolinsky sable brushes. Size 0 round for smaller animals, 2 round for text and larger animals and a 2 rigger for everything else. Medium: Speedball India ink and Bombay red India ink on 11"x14" Bristol vellum.
First off, I LOVE these rounds. I bought several from Series 22, 33 and 323. They not only hold a ton of ink without dumping it out the second you touch it to the paper but they also make effortless buttery-smooth lines. I was particularly impressed by how well the rounds kept their point, even when gunked up. For those of you who love that chunky Craig Thompson skidding dry-brush effect, just try using one of these with some old goopy ink; I promise, you will be very pleased with the result.
Note about the size 0: I typically use a 2 or 3 round for most comic work because they are great for making both thin and fat lines but 0 rounds are very often too small. However, out of curiosity, I bought the Series 22 Round 0 and after working with it for several hours found that, contrary to my expectations, it actually suited my needs quite well. In some cases, it was able to accomplish the same effect as the size 2 and 3 brushes I had been using before but was far better for getting into tight spaces.
Riggers were originally intended for painting the rigging on ships (thus the name) and therefore are fantastic for long straight lines or smooth curves. All you have to do is tip it slightly to the side and apply a bit of pressure. This lays the ends of the hairs down against the paper and allows the tip to maintain contact even if your hand isn't doing a very good job of making the line. My hand isn't always the steadiest at 2:00AM (when most artists do their best work), so I use riggers about half of the time.
This particular rigger (Series 44, Size 2), although wonderful to paint with, was quite different from what I expected. You have to be careful about not overloading this brush with too much ink. I've grown accustomed to riggers of the same size producing a moderate to thin line but this brush produced a medium to very thick line, especially when initially set down on paper with so much available ink. If I wanted a thin line, I had to be very careful in order to get it right, starting by scraping it against the side of the ink jar about three or four times to get most of the ink out of the belly.
In addition, it had a bit of a unruly point that was difficult to control at anything below an 80 degree angle to the paper when it was not in motion. I myself, like many other brush inkers who came from the drawing world, paint with my hand rested on the paper, so the brush is usually tipped somewhere between 30 and 80 degrees but very rarely above that, unless I'm choking up on the ferrule to do detail work. Therefore, the point tended to get away from me quite a bit on this particular rigger when I was working on short lines or spots.
Sable Extended Point
I was SO excited when I found this brush (Series 46, Size 12); it was the first one I tried out of the twelve brushes I bought. As I mentioned before, I use riggers quite a bit. The downside of most riggers is that they don't hold much ink, especially if they are a synthetic. You are always having to pick it up from the line, get more ink and then carefully find the line again and try to keep the stroke going like nothing ever happened. So what you have a brush that's made for making long lines which can't actually hold enough ink to finish those lines.
Rosemary's newly-conceived 12 Extended Point brush combines the great ink-holding capability of a size 12 round and the stability of a rigger (I would estimate about a size 2).
The one drawback to this brush is that it has trouble with thicker inks. I use Speedball India Ink and it tends to get more dense over time from being open during inking. This wouldn't typically pose a problem with a normal round or rigger, but with the Extended Point, the thicker ink gets stuck up in the belly and the rigger dries up and begins to deflect to the side where the round hairs end. That said, this brush may require some practice, even with thinner ink.
Overall, I was very pleased with Rosemary's kolinsky brushes. Having spent only a few days working with them, I can already tell that they are finely crafted, very long-wearing and have a much better ink reservoir than the other high-quality brushes I have been using. Their only "fault", stemming mainly from my artistic preferences combined with my own probable in-expertise, is that they aren't quite as good at making super-fine lines. But there are other brushes in the world to fill that requirement, so I am satisfied.
Despite her location in the UK, Rosemary's prices are significantly below what you would spend in an art store for a brush of half the quality. She takes PayPal, shipping was super quick (within a week of payment) and the brushes were received, well-packed in pristine condition along with a nice catalogue containing actual-size pictures of all the other brushes she makes.
If you are looking for some great brushes, I absolutely recommend giving Rosemary & Co. your business.
AND THAT'S NOT ALL.
Comic Tools reader and storyboard artist Mark Kennedy sent me a link to his terrific blog where he analyzes comics pages, illustrations, paintings, photographs and film stills to show what makes them work, with special attention paid to composition, drama, and the posing of figures. I'm already learning from it, and I'll probably start linking to individual posts of his pretty commonly. Everyone should subscribe to his wonderful blog.
Mark also linked me to this, a blog which posts a lesson from the Famous Artist's Cartoon Course every month. (I've linked directly to the Famous...Course tag rather than the blog's main page, for your convenience. But you should also putter around.) At the bottom of each post, there is a link where the entire lesson can be downloaded in PDF format. When I was young I paid (by which I mean my mother paid) hundreds of dollars for a poor-man's version of such a course, and here it is free. Totally insane.
Sarah and Mark are hereby awarded Comic Tools Reader gold-stars, which smell like grapes when you scratch them and say "Grape Job" on them. Holy cow, you guys, thank you so, SO much.
Next week on Comic Tools: How to get the Perfect White Out Consistency.
P.S.: Sorry about the weird formatting in this post, I've spent half an hour trying to fix it and I can't make it work. It doesn't help that the preview field is totally inaccurate to what I see on screen.