The Tools Artists Use

Mikkel Sommer

Posted on August 29, 2012 | Comments

Mikkel Sommer is an illustrator and comic book artist living in Berlin, Germany.

A page from the comic titled The Meaning of Life, by Mikkel Sommer

What are some of your favorite drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, drawing tablet, all of the above)?

Tools that I can draw fast and dynamically with, and that doesn't require much pressure, since my wrist is on the weak side at times. So pencils, H2 or Prismacolor Col-Erase for sketching, and B2 or B4 for clean up, usually with a mechanical pencil, cos it gives you more accuracy. I also really like those cheap bic pen, those you have to click, they got a nice soft feel to them, but they run out of ink pretty fast. I might also uses brushes sometimes, right now it's a synthetic DaVinci, and thick ink. Microns really cripple my lines, so those don't work for me at all, but I've always liked the look of nib pens, but it's something I really need patience for, since you can't draw with them as freely and as wildly as pencils and brushes. And towards the end I pretty much use a Wacom tablet and Photoshop.

If you have a wide collection, how do you decide on which to use on a particular drawing, project, or day?

It's always hard to decide these things for me. I know that some tools are faster for me, but that some other tools might need less after-work and digital fiddling about, so I guess it's up to the work I have to do.

How do you like your color? Watercolor? Acrylics? Oil? Colored pencils? Markers?

I would love to do more analog work, especially paint, watercolors and pastels. I don't really have the patience yet, for mixing the colors and all that, but I do hope to start experimenting more with those soon. Right now, doing comics, it's all about efficiency, producing pages fast that I'm still for the most part satisfied with.

Is there any particular type of notebook or drawing pad you prefer? Or does any scrap of decent-sized paper work in a pinch?

I always get nervous in front of a piece of good quality paper, I don't what it is, some pressure I put on myself. I've never used a sketchbook either, I never know how to start them, and I'm such a perfectionist that I wanna rip out pages that doesn't work with the rest, which is a silly thing to do with a book that's supposed to be for experimentation and trial and error. I sketch on paper that I've used before, on the back, and I draw on cheap recycled 80g photocopy paper.

Illustration for The New York Times, by Mikkel Sommer

Do you ever do any kind of post-processing (like adding color in Photoshop or similar tool) to your drawings?

That's what I do, yeah. I do my lines on paper, and my colors in Photoshop, it's quick and it's what I'm used to.

If you work both digitally and non-digitally, which do you find yourself doing more? Is there a reason you would prefer one of the other? Is it because of the tools available in either space?

I'm always trying to avoid the overly digital look when I work in Photoshop, with customized brushes and textures. Also, doing most of your values and textures in the drawing process, gives you less to do in Photoshop. I'm trying to avoid fiddling about too much, it's difficult, you can keep on going, pulling things around and making new layers. For me the key is restraint, and I still feel like I have a long way to go.

Homage to artist Jean Giraud (Moebius), by Mikkel Sommer

I asked about post-processing on a computer, but do you think the computer is a helpful tool for making art? Whether it’s looking for inspiration online, or using it to build a weblog to promote yourself and your art, do you think a computer is necessary, helpful, or a distraction (or all of the above)?

I think it's crucial! All the illustration, animation and comic book gigs I've gotten since I started freelancing, are all thanks to my blog and my email. I wouldn't have gotten anyway without those, at least not the places I am now and the people I'm working with. I'm not saying it's impossible to make it in comics and illustration nowadays without a computer, but it's very very difficult. I think clients like to write you, and expect a quick reply. And yes, then there's all the distractions. That's the curse of the internet, and something most of us fight with I guess, boredom, procrastination and escapism.

Thanks Mikkel!

You can find Mikkel online at his weblog, Satan Said Draw.

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