As time passes ballpoint pens are increasingly becoming my comfort zone but, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll have noticed that I’m gradually adopting a “less is more” approach. I like my ballpoint pen portraits best when they are simple and not too heavily worked.
I always work my first layer in blue and the hardest decision is always whether to add any more colour once I’ve done that initial blue layer. I loved how this looked with just a single layer of blue and I honestly can’t say if it’s better or worse with more colour added but I’m pretty happy with how it’s turned out.
I used 3 different Bic 4 colour ballpoint pens in a Life Noble Note Plain notebook and the muse is Vazha from the Museum by Sktchy app.
I picked up a new 4-colour ballpoint pen from the Japan Centre in London when I was in the city a couple of weeks ago for a hospital appointment. I obviously had to try it out on a portrait, so I drew Alexander from the Museum by Sktchy app.
The pen is a Tombow and has the usual 4 colours – black, blue, red and green. It has a lovely line – its lighter in tone and thinner than a Bic so it’s easier to create a gentle build up of colour. Having said that, the ink does blob much more than Bics do, so I had to clean the nib much more than I have to when using Bics and I still found blobs crept into my sketch, as you can see. So there’s not much to choose between the two brands for me – though Bics would still be my go to because of the wider range of colours.
Today is International Womens Day and the best way I know to honour it is with my drawings of women. I’ve drawn thousands of women from the Museum by Sktchy app over the years since I started drawing portraits – these are just a few of them. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them all and especially to Jordan Melnick, the creator of the app, and his team at Sktchy.
I love making digital drawings that look as much like drawing in a sketchbook with analog materials as possible. Georg Graf Von Westphalen’s ballpointy brush is the best ballpoint pen brush I’ve come across for Procreate. This portrait of Lake from the Museum by Sktchy app was drawn with the ballpointy brush using a colour palette I created from my favourite Bic 4-colour ballpoints. I love how it turned out, especially the hair.
You can find out more about Georg’s Procreate brushes here
There’s no question that drawing lines with a ballpoint pen is the most therapeutic kind of drawing for me. It’s just so simple and straightforward and I’m simply building up the image layer by layer with each colour. I’m still on sick leave at the moment and right now this is the kind of drawing that I find the most soothing.
The model is Kate from the Museum by Sktchy app and I used Bic 4 colour ballpoint pens in a Life Noble Note Plain Notebook.
I generally rely on colour to bring my portraits to life but there is a simple pleasure in trying to capture a face through hatching with a ballpoint in just one colour . This is from a photo posted by Debie Evans on the Museum by Sktchy app, so I’ve decided to call him Evan.
I’ve gone back to Bics for my first portrait of 2022. This is Mahdiar from the Museum by Sktchy app (of course) drawn with my usual Bic 4-colour biros in a Life Noble Note Plain sketchbook. I’ve made him look a bit moodier than he is in the inspiration photo – he’s looking much happier in that but I lost his smile along the way.
I’d like to wish all my followers a very happy new year. I hope that 2022 brings you everything you would wish for yourself and your family, and I seriously hope it sees the beginning of the end of the Covid pandemic for all of us.
My drawing mojo is so up and down at the moment for a whole host of reasons and most days I’m having to push really hard to get myself to sit down and do any drawing at all and, especially, to stick with it when it’s not going so well. This ballpoint pen drawing of Avonlea is a good example.
I am really fighting with myself when it comes to drawing hair – anyone who knows me well will knows that this is a familiar battleground. I really struggled in the past when I only drew with Copic markers working out how to draw hair. Eventually I found a way that worked well for me with markers but I still haven’t got there with ballpoint pens and watercolour. And so when I’m struggling I just want to give up.
I know, from past experience, that the struggle is usually a good sign. It generally means I’m getting close to a breakthrough, to making some real progress. But this time around it feels like I’ve been stuck in this hole for a long, long time and I’m getting weary of it so I’m hoping that breakthrough comes soon.