TotMW: Media tests, Part 1: The Pen

A big step for me in the early stages of designing the Tales of the Mountain Witch game has been establishing what the visual style will be, and what materials will work best and consistently for the duration of the project.

I know that I want to do all my inking first and then paint the watercolor over the linework. Last year when I was working on the Spriggans paintings, I used ballpoint pen for all my drawing. It worked out well; I prefer pencil, and ballpoint is sensitive enough that I could use it to create some of the same texture but without the smudging and with the potential for darker lines when I wanted them. But it’s not the effect I’m looking for with this project. We’re trying to mimic, to some extent, the look of Japanese woodblock prints, so I think we need darker, crisper lines. I’ve been trying out different types of pens and inks to find something that I can use to create a bolder line but still retain detail, and then paint over, and I’ve reached one conclusion:

‘Waterproof’ must mean something different on my planet.


Nearly every ‘waterproof’ ink I have used that worked well for the actual drawing, bleeds like a stuck pig when painted over. I do not understand it.

ink tests002

Finally I did some very scientific research and scoured Amazon for waterproof ink. Came up with Zig Sumi ink for manga drawing, “waterproof after it dries.” …You can guess how that turned out. At least it will work for doing shaded black-and-white ink drawings (which we may also use in the game for spot illustrations)– I do really like the effect!



The real winner from the order was my impulse buy of a Lamy Safari fountain pen, extra converter, and extra fine nib, based on a general consensus of “It’s pretty cheap, and really good.”

You guys, seriously, this is the best pen I have ever owned in my life. The ink flows smoothly, the pen itself is lightweight and comfortable to hold, and the extra fine nib is (for me) the perfect line width. Below: filled converter cartridge (lets you use any ink you want) with the Winsor & Newton black and outlined this pencil sketch, then painted over with watercolor.

N_winner pen

Next time: Finding the perfect paper…


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