June 21, 2009

Rivkah Print Lesson 01:

Comic Tools Reader , cartoonist extraordinaire, and fellow online tutorialist Rivkah is starting a series of comics teaching about print. I know my pre-press pretty well, and I pride myself on sending files to my publishers that get compliments (scanning is an upcoming multi-part Comic Tools lesson, in fact), but I don't really have much knowledge of print. Rivkah ran a publishing company and knows this stuff inside and out, so I'll be posting her lessons here as they come out. I've already learned stuff I didn't know just in this introductory comic. These will get pretty intense, so strap in.

(click to see full-size version)

This week: I love my new ink bottle

No, Comic Tools isn't dormant again, and the posting schedule isn't changing, I just had lots going on and took an unannounced 2 week vacation.

During the first week Ma Fille visited me from out of state and while she was here, she bought me this lovely sumi ink bottle at Kinokuniya. Here's a good shot of the label, which is entirely in Japanese:

I didn't want the bottle for the ink, which I transferred into a bottle of totally useless and crappy fountain pen ink I've had lying around since I lived in Maine, but rather for the bottle itself. As anybody who's inked much knows, bottles are a royal pain in the ass.

Most ink bottles come thin necked and wide-bodied like this:

The result is you can only comfortably get your nib or brush in so far before you start accidentally getting ink from the edge on the tool and your fingers if you're not careful, and it can be very hard to see where the ink level is to avoid over dipping the brush.

This is actually a much fatter bottle than the ink I currently use. I don't have any fresh bottles of what I use now lying around, but here's their dropper caps, which will show you just how much smaller the bottles for my current ink are. I can barely fit my nib holder through the top of the bottle.
I tried solving the problem by using old film strip canisters as ink containers. It sort of worked- as you can see you can really reach the nib in their easy with no mess on yourself because of how wide and shallow they are:

But unlike a good ink bottle they didn't seal watertight and any little jostle would fuse the lid to the canister with solid ink:
Even worse they, allowed evaporation over time. Here's about four bucks worth of ink reduced to an eighth of an inch veneer that will never come off or be fully reconstituted the way it was ever again:
Which is why I got so excited about this sumi ink bottle. First of all, it's huge, which means you can put a lot of ink in. It's got a stable, wide bottom. It's got a wide mouth, and it even has a nifty brush holder groove:
That groove looks more for show than action but I tell you, it's very stable. It actually works. And the best part? It has a cap that seals air and water tight:
Never ever ever take the styrofoam out of a bottle like that by the way, or you'll take away it's ability to seal.

This is the bottle open. Two things to notice here: see how they made the neck ridge low and prominent so you could wipe the excess of the brush without gunking up the top edge? And notice how even the thin film of ink on top of that ridge, away from all the other ink, is WET? That's how little moisture this bottle lets out- no dry ink forms inside.
I am so psyched to have this thing.

Also, Timothy Dempsey asked me to link him here, so here I am, doing that. Here is his blog where he posts things that he did. Perhaps you might like to have a look.