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Pencil vs. Pen

Watching Sweet Tooth the other day on Netflix, I was doodling in Procreate with a pencil for the first time and caught myself thinking, ”Why don’t I draw like this all the time? What’s with the pen?”

During the pandemic, after the summer, my home studio has been moved from the kitchen table to the livingroom sofa. Marie took over the kitchen to set up her computer, screen, spaghetti wires and papers. She needs the space. There is a little space left over for me and my iPad, but, having left the collaborative world of online business employ, I just can’t be around zoom calls all day. Even if it is accounting being discussed in Swedish (I could probably easily zone out), I find it distracting. All this to say: I lost my in-real-life drawing surface. My doodling dropped off considerably. Oh! And having a dog. Time is precious, so I dive straight into my workload to get done what needs doing before the creature demands attention (for food and a walk).

This week, Marie was called into the office. Restrictions will be lifted soon, and everyone will be obligated to go back to the office, but she had to go in early to train a new employee. I had three days back at the kitchen table! Recommence doodling!

I did doodle on paper to warm up the first two days, but seeing as the dog is still a pressing issue, I opted to doodle on the iPad and listen to a podcast instead of on paper while streaming tv. I say, “Opted”, but the truth is probably the dog was sleeping at my feet and I didn’t want to wake him by walking to the other room to get some paper to draw on! So, Wednesday, I doodled digitally.

On the Make It Then Tell Everybody Podcast, Dan Berry interviewed Tor Freeman (one of my favourite comic artists) and they discussed their tools. They went into detail about their love of pencils. That sparked something in me. Pencils are, by far, the tool I am most comfortable with, and hearing how Tor uses only pencil for her line (I didn’t realise this for some reason) I went back to her site and looked at everything. There it was – the airy, free, handmade, rough and ready, intimate pencil line. Tor says she colours digitally on her pencils. I figured I’d test this out.

I doodled while watching Sweet Tooth, and ended up with this pencilled thing in Procreate:

It looks like I doodle I’d make on paper. Good enough, anyways. I added colour:

That worked! And it looks pretty good, I have to say. Even colouring I feel more free and less anal.

Then I turned off the colour layer and traced my pencil one with a pen. Then I turned the colour layer back on and this is the result:

It’s still pretty fresh, so I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I quite like the pencilled version. I wonder if it’s a viable option for client work? Does the penned version look more finished?

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