Added 2 new A* pages:(^ In cheesy old TV shows this would be where they bushwhack her! Hm come to think of it that beardy guy in profile there probably does look like a bushwhacker.)|
Exciting art day! I tried out a new brush! A Google+ conversation last week got me thinking again about those bamboo-handled "sumi-e" paint brushes you see in art supply stores, and today I swung by the art department in the University of Washington's bookstore, which has a good selection and pretty good prices too, and I knew they had a whole sumi-e section. Their selection of regular "Yasutomo"-brand (that seems to be the one (and usually only) brand most of the art supply stores around here carry when it comes to Japanese art supplies) brushes was pretty picked over, but off to the side were all these jars of big Haboku Artist Brushes, in four sizes from Small to XL. A handy booklet nearby explained that these were stiff brushes with a blend of horsehair and synthetic bristles that gives them a lot of spring and carrying capacity, which sounded nice. Even the S size is wayyyy bigger than the European sable brushes I've been using, so I got that one. Turns out the UW bookstore is the place to get these things, because it rang up at just under $8, which you'll notice is 50% less than the price in Yasutomo's own shop at the link above--50% less than Amazon, too! And they had the XL for $12-something.
If you do look at that Yasutomo shop page you'll also see a "Haboku Stroke Brush" listed at the bottom as an "optional accessory." It's actually a completely separate brush, but the brush head is the same size and appearance as the "Artist Brush," and the description might as well be describing the Artist Brush--only the Stroke Brush has what I guess are probably Japanese characters printed down the side--and is 4x the price. HM. Guess I'll stick with the Artist Brush.
As the descriptions say, the brush has both horsehair and synthetic bristles: the stiffer synthetics form a central cone, with the coarser but more flexible (that doesn't sound right but it is) horsehair bristles forming a ring around it. Seems like a funny setup but it means that you get a really sharp, strong tip from the synthetic bristles, but with a boosted water carrying capability from the surrounding horsehair; plus, if you sort of hold the brush sideways a bit, you can get all soft and brushy with those softer bristles.
As I mentioned, even the S has a pretty big head, and the smoothed and painted bamboo handle is quite long; it's weighted to be held midway and dangled straight down from between thumb and forefinger as shown in this video, but I need to work not so abstractly, so that won't work--for the standard pen-type illustrator's grip, holding it right up near where the bristles go into the handle, the weight is way too far back. So I sawed the end of the handle off, learning that bamboo is surprisingly tricky to saw through in the process. It took two clumsy slices to find the right balance, and it might be a little front-heavy for someone working on a flat table surface, but since my hand is pitched upward on my sharply inclined drawing table, having the balance more toward the front of the brush is a good thing. Here it is dwarfing the brush I've been using before this, a Raphael 8404 size 4, and the brush I used before that (and which I still use for white ink), a Winsor & Newton Series 7 size 3:
I did a bunch of little sketches to test it, then I used it for today's two pages. And--it's neat! Its stiffness and ink/water capacity mean that I can do bigger/sharper/longer lines with it, yet it can still do pretty good detail with its tapered synthetic cone tip. This lets me work a lot more expressively, which is fun. I'm almost tempted to try a larger size like the XL, whose head is half-again as long as the S's, but that probably *would* be pushing my hand too far off the paper for good control, not to mention ergonomics. And I'm not even filling the S to capacity when I dip it in ink, anyway, because it can just swallow so much ink.
I've seen it shed at least six bristles so far; I think they were all horsehair, so that doesn't worry me too much, and it probably won't shed at quite that high a rate after its first day of use. I hope. :P At a third of the cost of the Raphael 8404, though, it should still pretty easily last long enough to be cost-effective; the 8404's tips have stayed in good shape through about 20 or 25 A* pages, I guess, and have pretty much been toast after about 40 pages (I guess I am hard on brushes :P), so if the Haboku's tip can stay in good shape through 8 pages or so, it's even. I'd think it will last a bit longer than that, but we'll see!
The other downside I've noticed so far is that the dark brown/purple paint on the bamboo handle comes off a bit--or, at least it leaves light reddish stains on the things I've rested it on for a bit, in spots where the surface was damp. Strange not to use waterproof paint to paint a paintbrush! Huh. Well as long as it doesn't start making the pages red (not that that would show up in the grayscale scans anyway), I guess that's all right.
Here are the practice sketches I made with it first!
This one is all Haboku except for the upper right corner, where I did some Raphael 8404 doodles for comparison--I noticed with those that I couldn't maintain lines like I could with the Haboku, just because the 8404 dries up a lot faster; from the central, Haboku-painted figure, I found the longer Haboku head probably can't cross-hatch quite as easily as the 8404--but maybe that's for the best since I kind of want to get away from tons of little hatched lines anyway (and in this set I prefer the figures in lower left and lower right, which don't have much hatching at all, but just a lot of black ink flowing out of that Haboku horsehair:
And then this one was all Haboku:
(It says "Black Star" on it because the other side is the test drawing I did with Black Star ink back in my ink round-up. :P And the first set has "D4" because that one's on the back of the Deleter Black 4 test page. Hey, this nice paper ain't cheap! :PP)
So I'll probably stock up on a few more of these Haboku brushes and keep going with 'em, at least unless they turn out to fall all to pieces after a few pages. And I'll have a new art store to check for them, because an actual art supply store just moved to Ballard (my neighborhood in Seattle), so yay! No more having to go across town, or mooning around the arts and crafts aisle in Fred Meyer ;P. Although Dakota's prices, at least when it was in its previous, Roosevelt location, weren't quite competitive with the bigger local stores like the UW Bookstore or Daniel Smith; still, it should be plenty handy for when I need (okay, "want" :P) something on short notice.