All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Friday, May 16, 2014

Birthday presence. (Yes, that spelling is intentional.)

Yes, that spelling is intentional. For my birthday, I ordered some art stuff. It turned out to be a great investment, and a perfect birthday present to myself. It really brings me back around full circle to where I started 30 years ago, really re-connecting with my roots and being glad to be where I am, and where I have come to. It is good to have PRESENCE as well as presents!
Two days ago, I received my new Pilot Hi-Tec-C pens and Pentel Aquash pen from
The package arrives!
Pilot Hi-Tec-C Pens
and Pentel Aquash Brus Pen!
The Hi-Tec-C pens are popular in Japan, and difficult to find in the USA.

I was really excited to give them a try. I had seen Scott Robertson, John Park and others use them in combination for great sketching. The Hi-Tec pens have a tendency to 'melt' when water is applied. What this means is that with nothing more than a Hi-Tec pen and a water brush, I can get lines and wash, and there's no need to carry anything else. So it makes it super-convenient to take anywhere.

I ordered both Black and Brown, in 0.25, 0.3, and 0.5 widths.
I ran all the pens through my basic test as you can see, and then experimented with a couple quick sketches to see how they work.

So far, I am LOVING them! The Hi-Tec pens have the convenience of a ball-point pen, with the precision of a Rapidograph. Unlike the porous point precision pens, the point does not wear down. There is a bit of getting used to as far as the feel, but that is to be expected. It really took me back to the days when I was doing Technical Illustration. 
I like the feel, although the pens themselves are lighter weight (physically) than what I am used to.
The 0.25 is SUPER fine, and good for construction lines, reference points, and stuff that I don't want to show too prominently, and that is what it is best for. It is too fine to do any heavy work, and will gouge the lighter weight paper if used over and over on a line.
The 0.3 is better for linework. It is still a very fine line weight. This is GOOD for sketching. It doesn't build up too heavy as I experiment and search for the placement of lines, edges and objects. It gives me plenty of leeway to search and explore, and that is the frame of mind I am in when sketching.
The 0.5 is good for building up heavier lines, clarifying overlapping lines, and beefing up silhouette lines. It can build up darks and solid patches pretty well. 

Then the fun begins.
I love the Pentel Aquash pen! What a GREAT idea! It has a wonderful brush tip. The body is the water reservoir, which I filled with Artesian water (the plumbing in this old apartment building is less than ideal, and I don't entirely trust the tap water.) The cap seals pretty well - I haven't tried anything extreme, but so far, no leaks. You simply squeeze the body to prime the tip with water. It is very easy to work with and very versatile. You can vary the water in the brush tip by wiping excess on a rag or paper towel. I simply tested on the back of my hand, and then I had a tiny puddle that I could dip into to add more water.

But it turns out I don't need to. The Hi-Tec pens – especially the brown – really do melt in water. The technique, and the effect, is pretty much like working with watercolor pencils, only with more density. The good news is that the Hi-Tec can draw back over the 'wash' once it is dry. While the wash is still wet, it tends to bleed, which could be a useful effect in some instances.
The customary Pen Test -
with washes!
It will take a little trial and error to really get the hang of it, but I believe it will be worth the effort.

I discovered that the paper makes a HUGE difference, especially with the water brush pen.
I fill most of my custom sketchbook with cheap copy paper. It removes any intimidation or hesitancy. I am free to try anything, and if it doesn't work, no big deal - it's only cheap copy paper.
However, when applying water, even a light wash, the cheap paper tends to buckle. A little bit is okay, but if I plan on using the washes more frequently, I'll be loading the sketchbook with heavier paper.
I tried a few different types - bond paper, drawing paper, and watercolor paper. They all have their distinctive qualities, and each could be useful. But the thing to remember is: more water requires heavier paper!

The combination of the Hi-Tec-C and Aquash pens is SUPER convenient and ideal for taking wherever I go – along with my handy sketchbook. The ability to get good linework and lay in a wash – very quickly – is a delight. Being able to put in fine detail where I want it is also a joy.
Here are the results of the initial experiments:
Testing the Brown Hi-Tec-C pen
in combination with
the Aquash Brush pen
Sketching with the Black Hi-Tec-C
(Yes, that is what you think it is.)

More sketches.
I will be posting more as I continue to explore these new pens.

The new book arrives!!! :D

Yesterday, I received my new copy of How to Draw by Scott Robertson.
I know, many of you may be asking yourselves “Why on earth does Mikey need a book on how to draw?” (Some of you may be thinking that it's about time... lol) But the answer is simple if you understand my history and experience. I cannot describe how exciting it is to combine technical illustration, a field in which I have spent over 20 years, and fantasy/science fiction/concept art. It is like discovering chocolate pizza – all the best things put together! And the idea of drawing tech from imagination – it is simply too good to pass up.
I have been delighted and inspired by Scott Robertson's videos on YouTube and eager to delve into the concepts and techniques on a more in-depth scale.
The great thing is that the concepts, tools, and techniques are very familiar to me. The excitement comes in applying those concepts, tools, and techniques in a different – and totally creative – way.
It is cool when new ideas take you back full-circle to where you started, and begins a new cycle of creativity.

I have no idea what will come out of this, but stay tuned... it is bound to be exciting!!! :)

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