Sketch Challenge #2 – Pen Sketch

It’s been a while I didn’t update my blog with sketches. So here we go guys.

This time I was sketching with pens, meaning….well won’t be any ctrl+z or erasers.

Why did I do this?

There was this vid I ran into, numeruous vids on youtube showing mangakas and other advanced mangaka doing a quick sketch with pen. Comparing with other comic author (especially from indonesia) there was something different on the quality.

And there is this friend chatting to me and I told her about it. We are discussing and come into a consclusion: difference regions have different cultures and it affects our drawings as well.

Even if we have the manga style, the american style, we can’t compete with them 100% only with practice. Doing observation is needed eventhough we’re not researchers. As an example, me, as an Indonesian, drawing and writing mostly with pencils and tend to erase like, a lot. This affects the nature of my drawing, the stroking. Plus in my friend’s opinion, personality have an effect as well. She tells me that I’m always unsure where to go when drawing and despite of that, I’m quite a perfectionist. Well, she’s right.

So why drawing a sketch with pens?

  1. Drawing pen sketch makes you unable to erase. This is helpful for you not to think “Oh there’s ctrl + z” and make you stay focused and not thinking too much. It trains confidence, which brings us to number 2.
  2. Refining inking technique. I’m not sure how to say this in English tho. When you’re drawing sketch with pen, you’ll have to stroke the lines with confidence. Don’t repeat stroking. Don’t push the pen hard. Don’t be frustated if it goes wrong. Refine even if it’s only sketches. Bring character’s expressions and gestures like you’re drawing sketches as usual. Pen sketches are the gray area between sketches and inking. If you can have more smooth and refined sketch, it’s mostly guaranted you can do the inking better than before.
  3. Trains instict. It’s helpful for make our drawing more consistent especially on faces and body. Some of us may complaint : I can’t do this without rough sketches. Sure you didn’t, me too. I only say this is just “training” , not a “statement”. It helps you, but it’s not a rule.
  4. The true nature of your inking style. Actually, this is my personal problem. I’ve been researching that my pencil style and inking style tend to be different. Not the art style, but the inking, stroking style. Trying the pen sketches make you see the true lines you actually being comfortable with since you’re not pressured with “where to go” and “what to make” thoughts. Let’s just say the cliche: “it’s about life of the drawing”.

Here is the example of my first attempt :


In this state I realized I’m repeating the stroke too much due to my uneasiness and lack of confidence. This has to be repaired, if you have a case like this too better get it fixed.


I was trying out the shoujo style. I still stroked too much on the face line, see? I was thinking I should stroke repeatedly to refine, but it came out not as I wanted in the end.

Here is the example of a japanese mangaka doing a pen sketch:

See the difference? She might be repeating strokes too, but it has different feelings. She’s repeating the strokes for shaping, not because of lack of confidence, She knows where to go, she knows what to refine, she takes control of the pen and paper, she has seen the final result even before she makes the drawing.

I know I seemed to talk rubbish, but you can see the difference between mine and hers. 

It’s about the stroke beauty I guess, I guess most of us ignore this because it seems pointless at the first glance. But when you’re making comics, this is crucial.

And that’s all I want to share, I hope it’s useful. Sorry for my bad English.

All the best

– Mimi N

N/B: I was doing sketches on A5 each drawings with 0.8 snowman drawing pen. The thicker your pen have, the better you can train the line’s beauty. At least, that’s my friend’s thought. Credits to Erline.


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