Guest – Jim Ink

There is a skill and technical level in using any tool for illustration and a lot of that is mastered in applying yourself to create with those tools. I often use a biro as a means to sketch out what I intend to paint onto a canvas but beyond that I’ve never considered using them to create a finished illustration. There are many illustrators who do however and one of them who quickly caught my eye is Jim Ink. I’ve followed Jim’s Instagram account for a while and have marvelled at his biro illustrations so I was very pleased that he agreed to do a guest post and chat to us about his process.

Over 10 years ago, I reached an impasse after studying painting for about 6 years and pretty much stopped doing that. I was starting to do almost all aspects of my professional work digitally, and picking up the ballpoint pen was an attempt to stay in touch with art on a hands on basis. I gravitated to the initial impulses and tools from when I was a kid. I had become quite adept at drawing things in the margins of my notebooks all through school. So I bought a classic composition notebook which I kept for about 10 years. Much of the work I did in keeping it is up on my Instagram page.

They’ve actually come a long way with the range of ballpoint pen colors, and I started to work with all the colors that were available. It turns out, the ball point is a versatile tool, capable of subtle graduations like a pencil, or bold lines like a dip pen. I prefer the bolder line, and create color blending by hatching one color over another. Optical blending occurs when you do this, as with the dots in pointillist painting.

There are downsides to the ballpoint as a tool: they are not archival sound, and will fade if subjected to continuous light. They spit, especially in the warm weather. You end up scraping out little blobs of ink with a razor blade. You have to continuously wipe the tip, but there’s always one or two that happen anyway! The big plus is they are perfect for sketching on the go, and 2 multi pens (Bic being the most easily available with regard to those) can have you walking around with a range of 8 available colors!

Many thanks Jim for sharing your work. You can go see lots more of his fabulous art over at his Instagram page and you can watch more of his movies on his YouTube Channel.

Guest – David Hitchcock

I’ve known artist David (Dave) Hitchcock for a long time, we used to write letters to each other before emails where a thing, so that long. He’s a good friend and an amazing artist with a long list of projects to his name. He made his name with his creator owned work like ‘Spirit of the Highwayman’ and the Eagle Award winning ‘Springheeled Jack’. He’s produced a wide variety of comic work over the years including the two volume Madam Samurai with film screen writer Gary Young, Frankenstein Texas with Dan Whitehead and has an ongoing association with the UK’s sci-fi comic 2000ad.

Dave has a very recognisable style to his art, something that I think a lot of artists spend a lifetime searching for but he’s refined and expanded upon his ‘look’ over the years. I sent him a couple of questions and then asked him to talk us through his work on an illustration.

You are well known for your style and fluid pencil work, do you have any favoured tools of the trade?
I prefer a soft lead, a 2b or 3b sometimes even 4b for darker areas. Last year I started adding a colour wash to some pieces. For those I use coloured inks and watercolours, no particular brand, whichever is at hand.

You’ve produced a varied amount of work but have you always favoured comic art for your own projects?
I started self publishing around 1987, yep I know, I’m ancient. I’ve always had a fondness for gothic type work and found that that had become my niche. Recent years I’ve done the occasional bit of work for 2000ad and Heavy Metal, currently I’m working on commissions and any other gig that might come my way.

Whose work outside of comics do you look for inspiration?
I do like many artists outside comics, but my mainstay is the Victorian illustrator Arthur Rackham. I’m always amazed when I look through any of his beautifully illustrated  books, the sheer imagination, for the time period is unbelievable.

Where can we see more of your work?
I’m sadly lacking a website, so I can only direct you to either my Facebook pages or Comic Art Fans where I have a gallery of my work and also a few pieces of comic art from other artists I admire.

Here’s a handy list of links:

Dave’s Artist Page on Facebook

Dave on Comic Art Fans

Dave’s old but still clogged full of art blog –

Insta Dave at Instagram

I’m generally always available for commissions, a lot of the work I produce is simply just what I fancied to draw at the time, like this Thor image. I love Jack Kirby, so I fancied doing my take on Thor v The Destroyer. I’m always on the lookout for more regular comic work, but in the meantime I may as well scratch a few itches.

Here’s a step by step of the way I generally work. I do my initial layout loosely on the actual  paper the piece will be on, so there’s never any scraps of paper floating about as a rule.

I begin to pencil a little tighter then I start inking  certain areas. There was a lot of erasing with this one in order to get the correct stance for our thunder god and the destroyer. At this point I was thinking how the colour would be on it, as there is a lightning bolt right through the middle.

I continue pencilling in some background details. And then use an ink wash to darken the sky and the masonry above the destroyer.

As the lighting is reflecting off the sides of the figure I thought it only fitting to add some patented ‘Kirby Krackle’.

More watered down ink wash to try and create some ‘light’ from the open visor.

Then I begin to add watercolours. Sometimes I use coloured inks too. Whichever suits at the time.

I then add some colour to the crackle effect and use the same shade as reflection on his torso.

Finally I add more falling rubble and masonry. I lay the watercolours/inks directly over the pencil shading. 

Here’s the finished scanned image.

Many thanks to Dave for taking the time to answer the questions and walk us through his process. I’m sure you’d all agree that Dave should get himself a nice new website to show off his portfolio of fantastic art. Check out the links above to see more of his work or contact him for commissions.