Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ryan Sumo's Urban Sketching Materials

I've been experimenting with a different process lately with my Urban Sketching, and since the results have received a lot of praise (thanks!) and questions on medium and equipment I use I figured I would make a blog post about it.  Above is the sample of one of my recent sketches while in Intramuros.  I found a nice, shady spot on the wall with a good view of Manila City Hall as well as a food stall on the road below.


Here is a photo of the materials I used for these sketches.  Yup, that's it.  Four pens and a sketchbook.  Usually I only have just the one pen and a sketchbook, and sometimes a small pack of grayscale brushpens.  Why so little?  This has a lot to do with my own personal philosophy of Urban Sketching.  I like to observe things and present them in as unvarnished a way as possible, especially people.  People react in all sorts of ways when they know they're being observed, so when I sketch I try to be as invisible as possible, and having less materials makes that a whole lot easier.  Of course this method has its drawbacks, but I'll save that for another post.  For now, I'll go over each item one by one and show you where you can get them.  Unfortunately most of them are only available on Amazon or in Japan, but hopefully that will change.

Metal Pencil Case

Actually, I'm not sure where I got this pencil case and how much it cost.  It might have been in one of those "container" stores like Beabi or Lock and Lock where they have containers for everything.  In fact I think this may have originally belonged to my wife, who likes buying containers for everything.  If you find one it should probably cost you less than 100 pesos.  It's simple, sleek, and carries my pens.  The Urban Sketchers Philippines sticker was given to me by the current leader of USK Philippines, Lauren Villarama.

Zebra Brush Pen

After trying numerous felt brush pens in the settled on the Zebra brush pen as my favorite (I forget the reasons why, to be honest).  I like brush pens because they give your drawings a sense of weight without even trying, something that regular technical pens and ballpens do not.  You get that sense of line weight using Nib pens as well, but for sheer convenience these brush pens can't be beat.  They rn out of ink in a few months, depending on use.  I usually ask relatives coming from the US to bring me a bunch, or I buy them in bulk when I go to Japan.  Amazon lists this as the Zebra WF1 Scientific Brush (Small Size) and Jetpens list them as Zebra Disposable Brush Pen Fine.  Zebra's brush pens are color coded so always make sure to get the gray one, not the black (medium) or blue (extra fine).  Zebra actually has a retail presence in the Philippines so maybe one day we'll see these in national bookstore.

Koi Coloring Brush Pen

Koi Coloring Brush Pens, made by Sakura, are surprisingly hard to find even in Japan.  I found these on Amazon and the first set I bought was actually a grayscale set that I really liked.  I then bought the 12-piece colored set and was disappointed because the colors were too rich and bright for my taste ( I think they were originally made for coloring manga).  On Kraft paper (the brown paper my sketchbook uses) it dampens some of that color and makes it more tolerable for me.  I originally fell in love with these pens because they don't bleed through the pages in the same way most markers do.  I use these to color and shade my line art to give them more volume.

Sakura sells 24-piece and 48-piece sets as well, but they get pretty expensive and I was worried that I wouldn't get the colors I like.  I actually found a store in Bangkok that sells individual colors, but I felt too pressured to buy anything.  Hopefully this is something Sakura Philippines will bring here soon.    

Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Ink Pen

This one you can actually buy in National Bookstore.  The Uni-Ball Signo White Gel Ink Pen costs around 96 Pesos.  Don't expect your local NBS clerk or saleslady to recognize the name immediately though, and bring a picture just in case.  This is one of my most recent purchases, and I bought it specifically to experiment in using it with my new Sketchbook.  It seems to be very popular among comic book artists.

Pentel Felt Tip Sign Pen

This is another one of those pens that I discovered in Japan.  I bought it because it was similar to the Zebra Pen with its felt tip, except colored.  I bought a single brown and grey pen while in Japan, but I recently purchased a set of 12 on Amazon, which I'm very excited to play around with.  As with Sakura, Pentel has a retail presence here, so it's not impossible that they will bring these over someday, perhaps USK Philippines can push for that.

Languo Metal Case Sketchbook

This sketchbook can actually be found in National Book Store, although I cannot say if it's available in all branches.  I found mine buried in the Megamall Branch along with a few others.  Oddly, they seem to all be flag themed.  Mine seems to carry the French flag, while the rest of the sketchbooks I saw bore the Chinese flag (Languo seems to be a Chinese company).  The  most curious thing about these sketchbooks is that they are divided into three sections : Kraft paper, dotted graph paper, and Kraft paper again.  I've never seen sketchbooks like these before.  The thing I liked most about them was that both the Kraft paper and the graph paper were able to hold my Zebra brush pen strokes without bleeding through to the other side of the page.  This "metal" version costs only 215 pesos while there is another square shaped paperback version that costs 146 Pesos (with similar paper divisions).  If the NBS clerks don't seem to  know what you're talking about, just dig around in the sketchbook and notebook sections of your local NBS and you might get lucky.


I hope you guys found this post useful, and have fun experimenting with these materials.  If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them in the comments!

This blog was cross posted from Ryan's art blog, where you can find more urban sketches and other art related stuff.

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