‘Eric’ Illustration


‘Eric’ – original by Shane Swann

Medium: Paint based pens and pencil.

Original : NFS
Frame: White painted wood box frame

‘Eric’ blog post
This is a drawing of my cat Eric, drawn with paint pens and pencil. It is rather different in style compared to my usual intricate drawings. I kind of stumbled across this style by mistake. Basically I was looking for coloured versions of the fine pens I normally use to draw the intense detail in my black and white illustrations. An artist I really admire Carne Griffiths I discovered uses (as well as a variety of other media) a type of paint based pen to draw coloured fine detail. I decided to purchase these pens because they seemed to be exactly what I had been searching for. When I began testing the pens, I soon realised they were not what I had been expecting. My usual pens have an extremely fine soft nib, but these paint pens had a thicker, hard tube like end, which the paint would flow through. The line they made was also much thicker than my usual fine pens. The other issue I came across, was that when I usually draw fine detail, I have to draw very carefully and slowly. The paint pens did not allow for this, because unless you draw quickly, the lines become thicker and sometimes bleed, leaving blobs of paint behind. I had to find a new way of drawing with them or I would not be able to use them, which would be a shame, as the quality of the pigment was amazing. So instead of drawing slowly and carefully, I decided to do the complete opposite.. fast, expressively and without thinking too much. I had a photo of my other cat Graham, so to test this new technique out, I began to copy the photo by only looking and drawing and not thinking about layout, proportion, tone etc too much. I was trying to draw as fast as I could, almost subconsciously, trying to feel what I was drawing, rather than thinking about what I was drawing. To create tone, texture and detail, I would bash the pen on the paper, smudge the paint, scribble and scratch into it rapidly. I would then start to use other tools I had around me, such a graphite pencils and colouring pencils in the same manner to create a more dynamic effect.

Image (2) shows my Graham cat drawing, my first attempt with the paint pen.


My second attempt with this style was the featured Eric drawing. I felt happy with the outcome of the Grahman drawing, however I did feel because I had avoided thinking too much about what I was drawing, elements such as proportion had suffered. With this next drawing, I did plan it out a little more. I drew the outline of Eric as accurately as I could with pencil, then worked into that with the same expressive method I had used for Graham. So, even though I was drawing very freely as before, there were also boundaries of accurate form I was working within. I think this payed off, as Eric still had that wild explosive feel, but was much more proportionate and true to him in reality.

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