Over the years I’ve acquired lots of different inking implements for different purposes, and I’ve also bought a few recently just to draw with. I decided to make a comparison by drawing a netsuke with each one to see what I really liked the best for drawing.
These four were done with Staedtler pigment liners; I bought a set I saw at Staples when I was shopping for printer toner (a reason I stay out of art stores…) and I really like them for drawing.
They range in size from .1 to .7, and the difference is most noticeable when you compare the finest to the thickest. Gama-Sennin, above was drawn with .1. You can get really delicate lines, but no darks. I’ve drawn Gama-Sennin before; he’s the immortal mountain god that can change himself into a toad.
With the thickest pen I drew Skoki, the Demon Queller. A physician who was rejected because he was so ugly (in one legend, anyway), he committed suicide but was honored in death by a remorseful emperor. His spirit then vowed to protect the ruler and his heirs. Depicted in netsuke as a large ugly man who wears a hat with a broad brim, his image is thought to protect against evil and illness and expel demons. This pen provides great darks, but not fine lines.
My favorite, and the one I’ve evidently used the most since it’s starting to run out of ink, is the .5 width. I drew the “Ghost of the Murdered Kasane”, who is a character in a kabuki play. She is one of many vengeful female spirits, caught between life and death.
The .3 pen also gives a good range of line and depth. I drew Kappa, a water deity, who is a trickster but also quite frightening, as he kidnaps and eats children. But he also likes cucumbers, and they are thrown into water in an attempt to appease him. He has webbed hands and feet, a beak, and a turtle shell, and reminds me in some netsukes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. If you meet one, bow: he will bow back, and the magic water that gives him his power on the top of his head will spill out, allowing time to escape.
I guess a future project should be one drawing using all 4 pens. Put it on the list. And more samples from my collection of inking implements to come.