The Tools Artists Use

Koren Shadmi

Posted on January 22, 2013 | Comments

Koren Shadmi is a Brooklyn-based illustrator and cartoonist.

Illustration for Business Week Magazine, by Koren Shadmi

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

I use mechanical pencils, 0.9 B. together with B pencil leads since they are soft and more flexible in their line. I also use small Kolinsky brushes from Rosemary & Co. for inking. I rarely use markers or artificial pens - usually only when I need to make straight lines. I use nibs once in awhile, but most often my 'go to' tool is the brush.

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

I usually go through the same process of penciling then inking, but in the past two years I have decided to forgo inking on my comics project, The Abaddon, since I wanted a more soft and atmospheric feel. But otherwise I almost always ink the art.

If you prefer pens, is there any particular brand, color, or type of ink you like best?

I use Sumi ink with my brushes, its very fluid and much better for making smooth lines, but it's not as good if you plan to use watercolors on the actual art after inking, which I rarely do. I almost always use the watercolors on a copy of the original art.

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

I mostly use watercolors, they are of a variety of brands, but I try to get the better brands for the candmium colors, which are more expensive but also show a huge differance. Cheap red watercolor, for instance, is very dull - while the cadmium version from Winsor & Newton or Schmincke looks really bright and colorful. These can cost up to 20$ for a small tube but are really worth it and last a long time.

If you do use paints, inks, pencils, or markers for coloring, are there any in particular that are your favorites? Do you prefer travel sets of paints to a full set?

As far as watercolors go I made my own set, I use tubes to fill in a steel case, let it dry and then I have a custom made watercolor collection.

A panel from Koren Shadmi's web comic, Abaddon

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

Usually either printer paper or simple sketch pads work for me, my sketches are not for 'show' but just to figure out the concept of the illustration, the layout of the comic, or for random doodles. I sometimes wish I had beautiful immaculate sketchbooks like Robert Crumb, but I've given up on that dream.

If you paint, is there any particular type of canvas you prefer? Do you like to paint on wood or any other materials?

When I do make a painting, which is about once a year, I like to use acrylic on very thick watercolor paper, I usually stretch the paper on some wood surface, prime it with gesso, then start painting. I like to use either Saunders or Arches. I used to stretch canvases in art school, but I feel like those take up too much space, especially when you live in NY.

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

Definitely, I manipulate the lines and colors afterwards on Photoshop. It's rare that I scan in a complete piece, there is almost always a lot of color adjustments, cleaning up and patching things together on the computer. There's still an element of surprise when I try some adjustment in Photoshop and the piece takes on a new look that wasn't even what I had in mind.

Have you ever tried a new pen (or paper, etc) from reading about it, or seeing the results in another artist's work?

Yes, The Rosemary & Co brushes were mentioned on a blog by an old friend from SVA. I ordered them and never went back. They are better than the Winsor & Newton Series 7 and cost about a 1/4.

Do you have anything out of the ordinary you use for making your art?

I don't think so.

A portrait of Rod Serling, by Koren Shadmi

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 try to have a good balance in my work of digital and organic elements. People mostly have a hard time telling if there was digital processing to the work, and I think that's when it's successful, when the computer work in invisible. I think the computer has given me a lot of freedom, but I also don't want to rely on it too much, I want to always have some organic and 'real' element involved.

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)?

The computer is both helpful and a distraction, I feel like if a was working in some studio in the 80s I would probably produce more work, since I wouldnt be spending so much time procrastinating online. Then again, I would have to go to the library and sift through books to find correct reference shots, and that would be a great waste of time.

I've recently installed a program on my computer that blocks Facebook and the likes for the duration of time you choose. I turn it on in the morning for 6 hours, and I find that I'm less distracted.

Thanks Koren!

You can find Koren Shadmi online at his portfolio site, on Twitter (@KorenShadmi), on Facebook, and his online comic, The Abaddon.

comments powered by Disqus