The Tools Artists Use

Rebecca Mock

Posted on November 26, 2013 | Comments

Rebecca Mock lives in Brooklyn, NY and works from her cluttered home studio on comics, zines, and illustration.

Cover of Walrus Magazine's 2013 Summer Reading issue, by Rebecca Mock

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

I use a Wacom tablet for most of my illustration work. Coloring digitally takes a lot of stress out of creating an image. For comic drawing, I sketch with a pencil and ink with various brush pens, and a nib & ink.

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

Mostly I'll choose a digital approach if I'm doing something for a job or a publication, in Photoshop I can be precise up to the smallest detail. If I'm working on a comic, I sketch with pencils and then ink with a nib, and I have a few different kinds to choose from based on the style of the comic. I like drawing comics with a nib rather than with a brush--if I was a cleaner draftsperson, I would use a pencil.

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

I have a collection of brush pens that I like to use, japanese felt-tip and calligraphy pens, mostly bought from The nib I use most often is a G-pen nib, also from JetPens. It has a very good range of line weight and is really smooth.

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

I usually color digitally, pretty much everything in my portfolio is colored digitally. I have all sorts of wet and dry media that I like to play with when I want to just make something for myself, like a card for a friend or a sketchbook page--acrylics, watercolors, markers, pencils and crayons.

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 horde scrap paper to use as sketching paper. I prefer to sketch things out on loose paper, tracing and taping things together and scanning things in. Sketchbooks are reserved for experimentation, list-making, and recreational sketching. I like the type of sketchbook that is slim and travel-sized, with thinner paper that doesn't feel so precious. I like drawing in graph notebooks, the pretty blue pattern is fun to draw over.

More or Less, by Rebecca Mock

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

Almost everything I do makes a stop in Photoshop before I decide it's done. There are always little smudges and eraser bits on my comic pages.

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

Yes. I started using nibs after trying out a friend's set and becoming captivated. I like to compare notes on different materials when I'm looking for something new.

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

When I was starting out doing illustrations of interiors, I used Google SketchUp to build a basic space and then used it as reference to get the perspective and scale right. I would just trace over a screencap of the model. These days I just eyeball things (or distort them purposefully) but making a model to draw from can be helpful for a tricky angle. even just setting up boxes in the right lighting has helped me create a more convincing imagined space.

When I want to take a break from my serious work, I have a drawer full of paper cut-outs, glitter, glue, string, and all sorts of junk that I use for making crafts and objects. Sometimes I try something completely new as a stress-reliever.

If you create purely-digital art, what are the software programs you use? Is one used more than another?

I use Photoshop CS5 for pretty much everything right now. For making zines and comics, I use InDesign.

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 like to work digitally because I can make everything perfectly clean and edit it in any way I need to. You can get a lot of precision and not have to commit to any decision, and I find myself changing things around a lot. Lately though I have been working almost entirely with pencil and paper, because I'm currently drawing a graphic novel.

A page from Rebecca Mock's comic 'My First Valentine Was Doctor Who'

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)?

All of the above, definitely. I love having the technology to easily pull reference, organize my work and send it out quickly, but I also often procrastinate more just because I can jump on the internet to chase one thought or notion. And it's easy to get sucked into thinking strictly digitally, and forgetting the full range of possibilities for art when you combine traditional and digital sensibilities. I will turn my internet or computer off for the day when I really need to focus.

Thanks Rebecca!

You can find Rebecca Mock online at her portfolio website, on Tumblr, and on Twitter (@rebeccamock).

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