Cartoon With A Dip Pen

In cartooning, nothing beats the classic look of a cartoon finished in ink with a dip pen, also known as a crow quill pen. Dip pens are used with black India ink on bristol paper. They make flowing lines of varying width as the cartoonist modulates the pressure on the tip of the pen, called the nib. The most popular dip pen with cartoonists is the Hunt 102. A Speedbal B6 nib is perfect for lettering in ink. The pen nib and the nib holder may be purchased together or separately.


1. Plan your cartoon. It could be a single panel gag cartoon, a four panel comic strip like Peanuts or a complete graphic novel. Write down your gag idea or a script for a longer cartoon story. Longer stories should be broken down into panels — the boxes containing each drawing — and pages as necessary. Cartoon pages average four to eight panels per page.

2. Proceed to pencil art on bristol paper. Draw the panels first, using a ruler, then the action inside each panel. Draw line art only. If you want a texture or shadow in your drawing, do it with crosshatching where lines cross each other. Work on each drawing until successfully conveying the idea. Ask yourself with each drawing if it clearly communicates your idea instantly.

3. Add letters in ink once your pencil art is finished. Use the ruler to draw straight horizontal lines for your letters. Use the Speedball B6 nib to add lettering to the cartoon. Dip the B6 nib in the ink, then make a few lines with it on a piece of scratch paper. This step is to ensure you make clean lines without blotting. Carefully add the lettering, dipping for more ink as needed. Let dry.

READ  Make Glitter Signs

4. Draw in ink over your pencil drawings using the Hunt 102 nib. Dip the pen in the black ink and make a couple lines on scratch paper to test line quality. Always place the nib on the paper and pull the nib toward the pen holder. Pushing toward the point of the nib will break the point or splatter ink. Try varying the pressure on the pen as you draw to vary the line width. A single line can go from thick to thin and back again.