Monday, December 14, 2015

August 2015 sketchbook - Part A

Pentel brush pen + ink in waterbrush + watercolours.

Sailor Cross Emperor + photoshop

This is how I spent National Day. Ballpoint + watercolours

G-nib + pentel brush pen + watercolours

Pencil + brush pen + watercolours + photoshop

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

July sketchbook 2015 - Part C

These were done using watercolours, markers, gel pen, black ink brush pen and colour pencils + photoshop
Botanic Gardens

Baker & Cook at Chip Bee Gardens

Sembawang Park during a photoshoot

Monday, November 16, 2015


Zig writer marker + photoshop

Hunt 99 drawing dip nib + photoshop

July 2015 sketchbook - Part B

Oh no, I'm so behind on scanning the sketchbook pages. It's almost December and I'm still in July!

Various fountain pens + watercolours

Needlepoint Namiki Falcon + Brush pen + photoshop

Muji gel pen + photoshop. Inspired from watching my daughter play at the playground. 

Monday, November 09, 2015

Putting colour into a waterbrush and how to fix it when it stops flowing

Waterbrushes were designed to hold water so that when you are outdoors or on the go, you can easily dip the brush in watercolour and start painting. However, I've heard professional artists say that it isn't the best thing to use with watercolour because it expels too much water. Or you can't control the amount of water to paint ratio very well. I found that it is true. So I stopped using it for a time. Then, I found that some artists around the world use it in a different way. And it works well.

Instead of filling the waterbrush with water and dipping it in colour, you put the colour into the waterbrush! While that limits the waterbrush to only one colour, you get a constant flat colour with decent flow when painting. Not being able to control the flow isn't a problem anymore because the intensity of the paint is always constant. If you like, you could fill a few waterbrushes with a different colour each. Afterall, a limited colour palette and a good control of tonal values can produce nice illustrations too. You don't always need a rainbow of colours. Here are some quick illustrations I've done with it.

The waterbrush I use is by Pentel. For colour, I use ecoline ink (with is liquid watercolour). I like my colours a little desaturated so I add water to dilute the intensity of the ink. And I also add a few drops of black ink to darken it. It's really up to you. You can also use fountain pen ink. A syringe with a fat needle is a good way to fill your waterbrush.

It was fun using it this way until it started to clog and it stopped flowing. You see, when you use inks or watercolour and put it in a waterbrush, it may form sediments which can clogged its small channel. I use to think that that was the end of the waterbrush and so buy a new one. But really, it is a small problem.

Just unscrew the top half off.

Get pliers with teeth and pull on the...thing. I don't know what to call it. haha.

It might slip off a few times. But grab it tight and pull and it will come out. (It's a snap-into-place kind of piece.) It's ok if the surface becomes frayed.

This is the part that gets clogged. Just put a sharp object through it to clear it. Some waterbrushes have a small white plastic bit inside (to slow down the water flow). You can push it out and put it back in. If you take it out, however, your waterbrush will flow more freely,

That's about it. But it if you want to do a more thorough cleaning, you can grab the brush with your fingers and push it out the back.

Wash everything under a tap and put it all back the way you took it out.

And that's it! Have fun with your waterbrush and don't throw it away if it gets clogged!

Friday, October 30, 2015

From the July 2015 sketchbook - Part1.

Drawn during breakfast

Random scenes with different pens. Colours in photoshop.

I think I used a g-nib, watercolour and photoshop

I once saw a kid do this under a beam of light. I think he was imagining he beamed down. I added the two alien creatures.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Modifying your parallel pen. Make it like a folded pen!

Some time ago, Parka and I did a video of modifying a parallel pen. Us, amateurs tried out grinding the pen nib with a Dremel and shaping it a certain way so that it would work like a folded pen. ( It took a lot of time and didn't work so great. So I've been tinkering and found a much quicker, simpler and better way to grind it. And you don't need complex tools. So forget what you saw in the video and try this instead:

You will need
1. A parallel pen. Size 3.8mm or 6mm
2. Coarse sandpaper
3. Micromesh or the finest sandpaper you can find.

Here is how I did it:

The Parallel pen is a very good pen for calligraphy and drawing. However, it's not always easy to draw with it because of its 90 degree angles. You can get very thin lines and very thick lines. But achieving the many degrees of line widths in between is more challenging. After trying a folded pen from Tim's Pens (, I wished that my parallel pen could draw like that. A folded pen nib has a slant with makes drawing a lot easier. Angling the pen feels more natural and comfortable when you want to achieve line variation. And it is easier to produce all the various line widths between super fine and super thick.

So I got down to grinding my old parallel pen. First, notice the little round dimple on the nib? It appears only on one end. This actually keeps the two metal sheets of the nib separated so ink can flow through. So you MUST NOT cut this off. (Tina wrote in to me and pointed out that there is also a dimple on the other side but at the opposite corner. So yes, you would be shaving off the other dimple on the other side. It will still keep the metal sheets apart.) The mistake I made in the video with Parka is that I shaved both dimples, on both sides, off. That destroyed the gap. 

This is how the parallel pen nib looks like from the top. It's two parallel metal sheets separated by dimples.
 Next, I took the nib out. If it doesn't come out, use a cloth and rubber gloves and it will pull out easily.

I got pretty coarse sandpaper so I could wear the metal down quickly.

With that dimple on the top side, I started sanding the bottom side. It helps to put water on the sandpaper as you do it. It acts as a lubricant. I moved it forward and backward or side side to side, whatever works.

 I achieved this slant on the nib. But I found that I had to hold the pen at a super low angle to draw with it. I needed a higher angle. Something closer to 45 degrees. So I kept at it.

I found that it was easier to just sand the nib when it was fitted in the pen. I held it at the angle I wanted and shaved more off.

Remember to add water. This only took maybe 5-10 minutes.

Then, I got this slant angle on the nib. Note that the dimple is still on top. Which means that the gap between the metal sheets is still preserved. And I didn't cut off the entire front tip too. You need it there. (Another mistake I made in the video). Thus, you should not do a slant on both sides of the nib. 

With just sandpaper, you can try out these different shapes found in folded pens. But remember to keep the dimple and that bit at the front end.

After sanding, there will be dirt bits between the metal sheets. I used the film that comes with the Parallel pen and flossed all the bits out.

All done, I put some ink in the pen and tried out the writing angle and line variations. Nice. But the nib now had sharp edges. So I smoothed the nib using micromesh. Holding it with barely any pressure to the micromesh, I moved the nib in circles, figure eights, and in any direction that didn't feel so smooth.

Have ink in the pen when you do it. The ink will act as a lubricant. You can also add some water. 

Do it very lightly. Very very lightly.

Then I was done! I put sumi ink in the pen and tried it out. You can put any ink in this pen. Sumi ink, however, lasted only 3 days before it clogged the pen. Still, no problem. I dismantled and washed everything out.

See the line variation it can produce now. 

It's pretty much like a folded pen, except I don't have to dip it in ink. Nice!

This is with fountain ink. This pen will use lots of ink so you might not want to use your expensive inks. But that's up to you. I found that using it with a cartridge or convertor works better than using the pen as an eyedropper. As an eyedropper, it tends to leak (whether you modify it or not)

With this modification, I found it a lot more fun to draw with this pen. It was easier to control the line variation. And the degrees of line variation it can produce is amazing (depending on the shape you choose to grind it down to).

Ok that's it! Hope this helps. Have fun!