I was asked by the lovely @aud-works about nib recommendations, and it quickly became obvious I should make a more detailed tutorial, so! NIBS!!! Often misunderstood, but gosh do I love ‘em.
Brands - My favorite brand is Nikko by far. They last FOREVER and are super durable, I still have some Nikkos from middle school that work! Kinda hard to find though jetpens.com has a lovely selection here. Kuretake makes decent nibs and are easier to find in stores, but I feel they have more protective coating so need a longer time in the flame. Same with Tachikawa, they make the best holders and I’m so in love with the blue holder that comes with a cover which is perfect when traveling with a Maru.
DOOOOON’T GET AMERICAN NIBS if you can help it. I know a lot of comic artists SWEAR by Hunt 104′s, and sure the flexibility is great, but for me they just never hold ink for very long. I’ve never used an american-made brand and liked it, they always break right away and clog easily from my experience. But if it’s all you have access to it’s fine to start out on them of course!
PREP! it’s kinda important.
FIRE!!!! Yes, you need to set a torch to a new nib. Nibs come with a protective sealant on them that repels ink. Setting a quick lighter on it clears it up and they’ll hold ink at least twice as efficiently!
Paper and Ink!
Before I go into different types I just gotta say I always have to re-learn the hard way that if a paper has a lot of tooth a nib won’t hold up well. It’ll clog like all hell broke lose and get super fluffy, here’s a good example of how fluffy it can get I mean hoo boy the bleed here is ridiculous ewww:
Finally got some Deleter and the angels sang. Normal Smooth Bristol is fine too of course, but even that can scrape. In general a Nib will always scrape into paper, but if it’s a paper made for nibwork you’ll have to wipe it less and it won’t bleed as much!
As far as inks go, make sure it’s not too thick and you’re fine. For a brush I’ll always use Sumi ink, but for nib do noOOOooot do that lol. A more liquid Deleter or actually Black Magic Higgins works very well. I can’t believe I’m recommending Higgins but there you have it. Really doesn’t clog as much!
Now, what type to use?
Maru - Detail pen, the finicky love of your life. While it may be tempting, it’s important not to use a Maru exclusively to avoid clogging headaches. Pushing it too hard gives a higher chance to catch and spray (probably why most seem to hate nibs lol) it’s important not to force a nib to do something it doesn’t want to do!
G-Pen - Soft and Flexible, this guy is your best friend. Can achieve a surprising amount of detail work, will probably be your most used pen along with Maru. I always thought I hated the G cause I had confused it with School, but no, I finally saw the light! Perfect for thin-thick work. Ink lasts forever on it and it’s super durable to boot.
Spoon - Sharp and smooth, perfect for hatching, speed lines, and general drawing with a firmer feel. When doing thin-thick work it gives a sharper feel to the drawing which can have a nice effect!
School - Thick and Broad without much give, this guy goes in for a great graphic heavy feel. Love to use it for uniform chunky lines to show weight!
Hopefully this kinda shows how to use them all together!
The important thing is not to force them to do something they don’t want to do. They like their jobs. Work with them, not against.
- Beware when hatching to make separate lines, not scribbly woopy-woo lines or else the nib can break or catch and spray.
- WIPE DON’T WASH.
- SERIOUSLY DO NOT WASH IN WATER until the very end, and then clean with soap and water and make sure they’re dry or else it’ll rust to the holder.
- A napkin without much tooth is better than a paper towel, but like, whatever lying around is fine! Wipe the nib frequently while working!
- Don’t be afraid to scrape off dried ink with your nail! It can take it.
- Normal white-out is more than fine, you don’t need no special thick white ink crap that dries in the bottle anyway. Covers well and a nib goes over it fine.
- You can brush white-out onto your nib and use it as white ink, but make sure it’s cleaned properly after.
To quote a beloved teacher, “Nibs are your friend, not your enemy!” So be kind to them! Use the nib that suits the area you’re working on best. That’s why there are so many different types! Everyone is different, so practice and find out what works best for you! :)
I hope this is useful to someone!! As always if you have any questions feel free to ask, and have fun~! :D xoxo~Allison