After Jay got me playing around with ink again I decided to give repainting a serious effort. My first step was to find some white ink pens because I wanted my medium to be strictly ink and no paint. I have nothing against paint. I just prefer the consistency of ink and I can maneuver a pen better than I can a paint filled brush.
I was going to order the ivory pens I linked to last time from Dick Blick. However, their shipping is ridiculous and I'm not paying $8.95 in shipping when my order of 2 pens was only $3.86. Man, get outta here with that nonsense. So, armed with a 50% off coupon I went to Joanns and got these:
The full price of the white ink Gelly Roll pens were $4.99 and the black ink LePen was $1.99. After putting them to the test, I'm going to recommend adding both of these to your art bin if you want to repaint with ink.
The LePen has the smallest point of any ink pen I have ever found and is perfect for creating delicate strokes like eye liner and lashes. Even though I'm a Faber-Castell nerd and have been using them for 30 years, if you could only get one liner pen, I'd get the LePen. The Gelly pen took some getting used to and because it has a well point instead of a protruding tip I'm going to try out more white pens if I find them. I still do recommend it though.
Other things you'll need are nail polish remover (at Walmart $2.96), varnish, glue and qtips. I'm using 100% remover because it's faster at removing the paint and you'll actually do less damage to the vinyl as long as you wipe the face with water immediately when done. You'll need matte varnish for the eyes and satin or glossy varnish if you want shiny lips. The glue is to seal your blending brush.
I had said before that you don't need the dry brush technique to blend your ink, that you can just stroke different layers over one another to do this. While that's true, I'm totally recanting that statement. You DO need to blend with a dry brush if you want smooth shading and shadowing.
Use glue to seal a few brushes so that only a small portion at the top can move. If you look at the dark blue brushes you can see that the tips are brown. The bristles below have been sealed. If you don't have a brush small enough for blending then cut some of the bristles off like I did. The yellow brush with the white bristles has been sealed too, but I only use it to sweep away dust from the face.
I also use blending tortillons (at Joanns $1.99), but more for removing ink than blending it. You can make these though using plain copy paper if you don't want to buy any. You'll also need a mechanical pencil because they have the smallest points to draw your faces on, toothpicks dipped in water to scrape away white ink, copy paper to clean your pen tips on and paper towels for wiping your dry brushes on. Lastly, you'll need colored ink pens!
Again, I'm all about Faber-Castell. Love them. I have several themed packs; Basic, Metallic, Sepia, Black, Terra, Landscape and Shades of Grey. If you are just starting out, I recommend getting the LePen 0.03mm and the Basic Faber-Castell pack. The pack is $16.99 at Michaels or Joanns, so take a 50% off coupon.
Okay, now that we have all the implements, let's get started!
First, make yourself a test head. Using my largest face, I ran a strip of white ink across her forehead - you can seal it if you want. Next, I drew a single stroke of each color I have through the white and 6 strokes immediately above it on the vinyl. Because ink is much thinner than paint, this will be a big help when choosing which colors to put directly on the vinyl versus those you'll put on the white ink which is quite opaque in comparison.
My first try with the white Gelly and LePen seemed very easy. If you have a defined sculpted face like the Power Team guys the Gelly will fill the groves of the eye with no problem or spillage. Even though I was heavy handed with the black ink of the LePen, it too scrolled well and let me make minute lines (the ink in his hair is magic marker). However, what I did notice is that no ink, either LePen or Faber, is compatible with the opacity of the Gelly. The thinner ink would eventually bleed through to the white ink if you stroked too often.
Since the colors were soaking through to the white ink, the next time I just inked the whites of the eye and left the iris empty. This worked fine, but it was annoying breaking up the white ink that way instead of just a strip across the whole thing. I wiped this face away soon as I finished because the eyes didn't look so slanted when I drew them on but once I over did it with the black again, they looked a mess.
This guy got redone several times. I was still trying to perfect laying down the white ink without it getting stroked away. I was working on his last face when it hit me that if I seal the white layer with varnish I can paint over it without affecting it. I'm slow, but I get there eventually.
Ok, the first head is to show you how much whiter the ink is compared to her original eye. However, if you seal down your first white layer with matte varnish your eye whites will have a much more natural color and not be so glaring. Another thing the Gelly is good at is making teeth! You can either put your white down first and ink color around it or put down an entire layer of color and then stroke the white over it.
Extra photo added for Mrs. Anderson
This dude. Oy vey. He's kinda creeping me out but I achieved what I was going for. Because Power Team guys have sculpted eyes I wanted to see if I could go beyond the sculpt and reshape the eye by making it bigger. So, I covered not only the eye socket, but the lash and crease lines as well with white and sealed it down. His iris is actually going below his intended lash line and his eyebrows have been painted above their intended placement as well. Creepy, but doable.
Now that I've figured out how to work with the Gelly, let's talk technique.
When you put down your varnish, whether your first seal of white or the final seal of the full repaint, DO NOT STROKE the varnish onto the ink as you will stroke the ink right off. You have two choices. You can put a small dab of varnish on your brush and pat it down so that only the varnish touches the ink, not the bristles. Do this gently over and over until you've covered the areas. If you have a steady hand, you can put a large drop of varnish on your brush and let it bead on top of the ink. Then, pull the bristles through the drop and spread it around - again, making sure not to touch the ink. You will probably practice either of these more than you will inking.
Dry brushing is your friend and it's easy. The second face shows you how you can use dry brush shading to define the eyes and give shape to areas that don't exist. I used one color, raw umber, to shape her sockets, brow bones and eyebrows. You simply stroke a line and pull your dry brush through it. Keep adding strokes and brushing through them to deepen or darken areas. Use a qtip, tortillon or folded paper towel to wipe away from these areas to create highlights.
The third face has been defined using black ink around the lashes, in her creases and brows. Except for the blue in her irises, this is just white ink in her eyes, with black ink and raw umber everywhere else. Even her nose bridge was widened using shaded raw umber.
That's all that I can think to share with you now, but if you have any questions and I know the answer, I'll help you out. Please take my attempts and comments with a grain of salt because I am by no means an expert at painting faces or anything else. And, while I know that I won't be winning any face painting contests anytime soon, I've gone from my first "paint" repaint that looked like that:
To my latest "ink" repaint that looks like this:
I'll call that progress any day of the week.