ILLUSTRATING KNOWHOW Mixing Tools and Styles Part 4

In the concluding instalment of Know-How articles on mixing media and technique, Bridget Marzo takes a look at using multiple tools.

I promised to focus in this post on some of the varied tools I use and mix together.

I discovered the glass dip pen thanks to a talk by Satoshi Kitamura who uses them and even files them to get different edges. Glass pens look like collectors pieces but they are lovely if you like a smooth flow to your line. And they cost less than £15 from Cult Pens.

You can vary the width by tilting it  - as I did for the rocks and trees for my Ice Age story in my previous post. Below are the first drawings I did with it.

The Herbin Glass Dip Pen 
and with the lovely Herbin ink bottle which has a pen rest incorporated.
These are character sketches for the Pomme'dApi story below

Part of a finished  illustration for Pomme d'Api, Bayard Jeunesse,
I added the scanned-in dip pen as a layer on top of a paint layer

An occasional commission for Bayard's French children's magazines gives me a precious chance to  experiment and try out new tools.  

Earlier this year I was surprised but delighted to be given a challenge - a  full picture-book length 'starting school' story set in fairy tale land.  A chance to use the rich colours of my Neocolor II watercolour pastels, I thought...
...but as you can see down in the corner below  right -  the pastels did not help me get the clear line I needed to define plants I imagined on this fairy tale walk.

Top left  - the final stage and below right,  the pastels and above it 2 of the Pilot fineliner pens I used in the picture book story for Belles Histoires, Bayard
As I often use Pilot G-TEC C4 fineliner pens for sketching in a small sketchbook I went online to Cult Pens again - and found a special offer of a bunch of coloured fineliner pens.

I scanned in that Pilot pen drawing (top right of the pic above) and then I printed it out on my Epson WorkForce WF7610 printer scanner - the same printer as Layn's. Luckily the printer took  the 250g mix-media paper  I wanted to try out,  a tinted midtone  paper by Clairefontaine called 'Naturel'. It meant I could do the colouring with real paints.

Top - my finished colour piece for Belles Histories, coloured brush pens and gouache (for the highlights and sky) on tinted paper.   Below, - a print-out of the painting which I scanned into Photoshop to change the colour of the bedspread and adding a few details - before I sent the high resolution file to Bayard.

I used fine brushes for the detailed painting, mostly coloured Kuretake 'Zig Clean Color' brush pens (yet another special offer from Cult Pens!)   The small brush heads are beautifully supple and the range of colours more are as varied and bright as watercolour inks, but easier for travelling with. 

Sketchbook idea ©Bridget Marzo
Sketchbook idea ©Bridget Marzo

Finally, here's a peek at my sketchbook. It's a mash-up of Neocolor pastels and Kuretake brush pens, on a story idea inspired by some art I love - in this case a Bonnard painting entitled Coffee in Tate Modern.  On the left are my  Kuretake colour brush pens which I used to add 'body' to the sketch in 
a controlled, small scale way. I sampled some of their line beneath some Neocolor pastel marks.
You may just see where a coffee mug landed, and look even more closely: can you see I've collaged in a tiny kitten?

Header photo © Bridget Marzo
My travel box (ex-mini macaroon box - yum!) of Neocolor II pastels.  I try and keep warm and cold colours separate.


Bridget Strevens Marzo is a former International Illustrator Coordinator for SCBWI and current illustration volunteer in the British Isles. Her long string of successful picture books includes the recent Tiz and Ott's Big Draw (archive


  1. Love this article Bridget, thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for introducing me to the glass dip pen, it's wonderful!


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