Wednesday, 30 December 2009

I'm gonna be on the Tee-Vee..

The battle you've all been waiting for, live on TV.. The League of Just Us vs The Eggheads!!

The league of Just Us roll call (left to right):
PJ Holden (Comicbook artist; 2000AD, Battlefields)
Paddy Brown (Web comic artist/writer and self publisher; Cattle raid of Cooley )
Reggie Chamberlain King (Writer; upcoming Layer Zero: Exile)
Aidan Largey acting as the backup (Writer; Layer Zero: Choices)
Aimee Durkin (Comicbook model; Cancertown, Slaughterman's Creed)
Stephen Downey (me)

As I've probably mentioned before, a bunch of comicbook creators meet up monthly at the Garrick Bar in Belfast to share portfolios, ideas and generally talk geek. Well 6 of us are heading to Glasgow in January to record an episode of the Eggheads, trying to see if our combined geek knowledge can outsmart the resident quiz team.

A few weeks ago I got a phone call via Mal Coney, the manager at Forbidden Planet Belfast (he's a friend and comicbook creator in his own right having written the Darkness and created the Magdelena for Top Cow, amongst a host of other projects). He'd gotten a call from the producers of the eggheads looking for teams for the Belfast auditions, and although Mal couldn't make it himself he passed them on to me. I quickly gathered six comicbook creators (who will herefore be know as The League of Just Us) and two days later we went to the audition for a laugh in the BBC building in town. Long story short, they liked our audition and flying us over to Glasgow for a day and night in a couple of weeks time to appear on the show.

I've no idea when the show will air, but it should be a good laugh and I'm sure I'll blog about the happenings when its all over.

Hope you all had a good Christmas by the way.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Going Digital

The Playstation digital comics store has just gone live here, and Insomnia Publications are right there along with some big name publishers on day one. They have Cages, Burke & Hare and Cancertown right up there now (more details on the Playstation network's Insomnia blog here).

This means Cancertown will be easily available all over the world to PSP owners without having to pay any sort of delivery costs (the irony of course is that it will not be available in  Ireland, well the South anyway, for another few days.) The first chapter is even free, so if you own a PSP you have absolutely NO reason not to check it out, even just to see how the reading experience differs from thee aul paper version, and of course please encourage your friends to do the same. Here's a direct link to help you out.

If you browse their catalogue you may even find some other popular comics, some of which may feature this guy:

(That's meant to be Wolverine by the way.)

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The end is nigh...

Here's part 2 of my 'script to finished page' process I was using for the Demented story in 2012: A final prayer. Part 1, including the script, is here.

6/ Calendar: The calendar in Bob's script pops up various times in the eight page story so I wanted to create it in photoshop (simply using the text, select and fill tools) and impose it on the images so I wouldn't draw it too muddled trying to squeeze in all the numbers.

I had forgotten to mention before, but although Bob's script mentioned the calendar appearing on panel 3, there was an angle I wanted to use later in the story that meant it was better to have it over Aida's head and so established on panel 2. An examples like this is why I find it's often helpful to layout an entire story, or at least scenes or issues at a time, rather than just before drawing each page.

7/ Redraw: Looking at the scanned page, panel 5 was much too cluttered and needed a little more room for both dialogue and to make out what was happening:
I took the scanned panel and on a new photoshop file moved things about and digitally sketched around it.

The characters looked a little squashed, and the panel wasn't going to fit into the original space anyway so I stretched it a little and turned in a blue colour.
The I printed out the blue panel and inked over it with my pens/brush. When I rescanned it I could quickly and easily take away the blue channel on photoshop so I'm left with just the black line.

8/ Black and white artwork: Finished the inks on the rest of the page and digitally put panel 5 into place, then used the curve tool to get a really strong contrast between the black and white.
To get the wallpaper texture I simply took a photo of my studio wallpaper, again using curves to bring out the pattern. I used the transform and perspective tool to fit the pattern to the walls as seamlessly as possible, and used my PS 'blood brush', which I'd created previously by scanning in an ink splat, to add the black splash at the bottom right (which actually has subtle story significance). I also didn't like how straight Aida looked on panel 2, so tilted in slightly just to make it more interesting, and added straight borders to the panels using the stroke tool.

9/ Greyscaling: The book is printed in black and white, which allowed for some greyscaling. I was originally just going to finish off with the stark black and white above, but I experimented with the greyscaling and thought it added to the art and atmosphere. All done in photoshop (CS4 incase anyone was interested).

10/ Lettering: This was my first time lettering in Adobe Illustrator, previously just using Photoshop. It look a little bit of learning, but I managed to pick up the basics pretty quickly and much prefer the process and result compared to Photoshop. It's the ease of ability to change and play with the vector lines before finalising or distorting anything that makes the difference. Thanks to this video for the quick reference.

And that's the page finished. Laying it out like this makes it look like a lot of work, but I didn't really notice as I enjoy it so much. Time wise I think I did the 8 pages over about 2 weeks.

So if you want to see the rest of the pages, pick up the 2012: Final prayer anthology. There is some great art and writing in the book and I really enjoyed it myself.

On an altogether different matter, I may have some amusing TV news next week if everything works out...

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Living up to its name...

As I've previously mentioned, I've drawn an eight page story for Heske Horror's 2012: Final prayer anthology, written by Bob Heske himself. Its a lovely looking book with some great short stories so I'd recommend picking one up.

I love seeing artist's process work, and I experimented a little with my approach to the following page, so with Bob's permission here's a little 'script to finished page' post:

1/ Bob send me his script:

Page One

6 panels.

Panel 1:
Exterior Nursing Home. Night.
Snow is on the ground. A shoveled, paved walkway leads us to a brick building.
A sign outside: Rosebud Nursing Home.

How’s she doing today?

Not one of her better days.

Panel 2:
Interior nursing home, a drab, depressing room.

ANGLE ON – A 65‐year old woman (AIDA) who sits in a chair by a window. She looks much older – her hair is white, her skin loose over her brittle bones. Her eyes are blank, her mind lost in a fog.
There are blinds in the window, a crucifix on the wall, and ugly print wallpaper on the walls.

Frankly, mom’s best days are behind her.

That’s true for us all, Dex.

Panel 3:

REVEAL – DEX, a 40‐year old man with a boxer’s sturdy build wearing a wool coat. Beside him is the attending nurse, DOTTIE, whose ample cleavage fills out her white uniform quite pleasantly.

Between them, hanging on the wall, is a calendar. It shows December with the 21st day circled.

At least the world didn’t end. December 21st, and we’re still here.

Another false Apocalypse. Like 1984, Y2K, and Planet X in ‘03.

Panel 4:
ANGLE ON – Aida, in her own world, almost appears to be listening to their conversation.

Looks like we’ll be here to celebrate Christmas after all.

Panel 5:
Dexter watches Aida leave the room, admiring the view. His right hand reaches inside his coat.


Panel 6:
Dexter pulls out a REVOLVER and stares maliciously at his mother with dementia.

Some of us will.

Apologies to Bob as some of the formatting is lost while transfering to the blog. Bob also embedded lots of really helpful reference material into the PDF, which were extrememely helpful in picturing the scene as I read the script, but since I didn't directly reference the images and this blog will be long enough as is, I've left them out.

2/ Small thumbnails to layout the panels and figures:

Often on first pages, I like to make one panel larger than the rest to pull the reader into the scene. In this case though there was a lot of information to portray; most of the panels are establishing shots of different characters and the last is the 'action' shot. I made panel 3 a little larger than the rest as it establishing arguably the main protagonist Dex, but I had to make the other panels stand out clearly as well. The above jpeg is probably the actual size I drew it, at just a few inches tall.

3/ Pencilling (work in progress)
Drawn on 11 x 17 inch bristol board. I looked up some photos of old ladies and I think the side view of Aida in panel 3 was pretty close to the imageI found, as I needed to see which way glasses sit on the nose, but for the most part I didn't use much direct reference. I wanted Dex to look different from my other male characters, so he's based very loosely on Bruce Willis on panel 3, just to give me a starting point. I've heard he look like everything from myself, to an angry Gary Barlow, so I don't think the likeness is too obvious.

4/ Working out panel 2: I'd just downloaded a free 3D modelling program called DAZ3D and was having a messaround with finding a nice pose for Aida on the chair:

I experimented with different angles, but ended up ignoring the model and just going for a simpler angle as it was the first time Aida appeared in the story, I needed to establish the calander on the wall, and leave room for dialogue. I also felt it was appropriate to start off with an almost mudane angle, then go for the more extreme angles when the action started on panel 6.

5/ Inking:

I starting inking the piece, tidying up and refining the artwork using mostly the new Rotring ink pen I'd just picked up and a little bit of brush for the bigger black areas. This was my first time using the Rotring on a proper comic page, I felt the pen would bring a grittier look to the page, which I thought suited the story.

- We're only half way through and the blog's getting a little image heavy so I'll call this Part 1 and show the redraws, inks, grayscaling and lettering/finished page in my next blog post...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Vampires! Zombies! Cowboys!!

I've had this idea for doing a Zombie Western in my head for a while. I had mentioned it to Andrew Croskery at one of the Belfast comic creators meet ups, back when Kronos City was but a twinkle in his eye (and some very messy notes in a book; the guy writes everything on paper first then begrudingly types it up) and he was intrigued by the idea.

We were going to enter the Gaurdian comic strip competition with it and Andrew promptly wrote a 19 panel strip that would stretch over two broadsheet pages. Then of course I looked at the actual deadline and it was something like a few days away. I was in the middle of drawing Cancertown at the same time so unfortunetely it wasn't doable, but I had managed to work up some character sketches based on Andrew's script.

But never fear, I know by now you are virtually begging to see more of these characters, and you are in luck! We've reworked the script as a four page story and found a home for it in an anthology coming up next year. Andy Brown of Berserker comics will be painting over my pencils and it should make make for a nice collaboration.

Andrew also has some character designs (he's a bit of an artist as well you see) for a few of the characters so if you go over to his blog and ask him nicely he might show them to you.

Speaking of Andrew and Kronos City, if you havn't checked out the multitude of artist interpretations of Karl, the anorexic vampire, over on the Kronos City blog then you are missing out on some lovely art. Here's my own version (there are 13 more on the blog):
'Til next time.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding into town...

Been drawing a couple of horses for a couple of different projects this week. Above was my first ever attempt at sketching one out, and I think it's recognisable, which is what counts.

Apparently the comicbook reading firmware update for the PSP is now available according to the Playstation comics official twitter page. Although I believe the digital comics won't be available until December, they've just launched a new website with some trailers and info. We've also been sent some screenshots of how Insomnia books will look on the device.

You can see more screenshots from Cages and Burke & Hare over at Insomnia's Red Eye Blog.
..and finally, "2012: A final prayer' Anthology (in which I've drawn an eight page story by Bob Heske) is available to buy via Amazon, Zaldiva and as a digital download via Drive Thru Comics. The book has been getting glowing reviews from sites such as Bookgasm (where you can also win a copy by entering their competition... but only if you're from America or Canada). What I've seen of the final collection looks fantastic so pick one up.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

This past week my main task has been finishing off the colours for Slaughterman's Creed chapter 1 (now that the inks are finished for chapter 2).
This is the first major project I've coloured as well as pencilled and inked, so I'm still experimenting with what works. I posted these on Twitter as I was working on the panel but here's some progress work:
I've taken to photographing alleyways lately and the window/speed blur one such photo, taken on my phone, filtered with a motion blur in photoshop:

Still another page to finish tonight, but at least I can colour in bed under the blankets to protect me from the cold winter nights...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

I usually dont do these 'warm up' sketches that so many artists talk about, but I was feeling it hard to wake up this morning after not getting back from a gig until about 2 pm and getting woken at 7 am this morning. I thought I'd have another go at the Faber-Castell shades of grey pens with a little straight-on Dredd head shot:

The brushes were a little softer this time, after their initial use, and it was easier to get a broader stroke. I think a water colour-like technique is better with these brush pens; starting with a layer of lighter colour and building up with darker shades (after first inking the pure blacks with the Kuretake brush pen and bigger brush/ink pot.). The white highlights are just the white of the paper that I left black while drawing.

Still a bit of practice needed (both for shades of grey and drawing Dredd) but I like the texture thats starting to come from these pens.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

New toys

Aimee got me some new pens as part of my birthday pressents including a pack of Faber Castell Shades of Grey brush pens which I've had my eye on for a long while.
They're a little tricky at first try, and really thats all I've had time for with so much work on. Here's a very quick doodle just to test how the pens actually look:

The brush tips are smallish (the same as the black Faber Castell ink pens), and dont seem to be made for broad strokes, so it was an odd feeling shading with such a small tip. The ink is also translucent, so when you overlap two shades, it will produce a darker one (as you can see in the middle of the forehead) and because the shade is so clean, I can imagine it being hard to blend and create gradients.
I'll post something more once I've had a bit of practice.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Disaster spreads the world over

Bob Heske has been busy promoting the soon-to-be-released 2012: Final Prayer graphic novel anthology (here's one of the flashback panels from my eight pages below):

He's appeared on a crazy amount of websites, and he may just tell the whole world about this project before the imminent apocolypse. Here's a list of the websites he's either been interviewed on, or feature news of the GN:


Horror movies and Stuff

Told you he'd been busy.

You can see a preview chapter of the book, a whole story in fact, as well as Cancertown cover artist Paul Cartwrights' cover for 2012: Final Prayer over at myebook

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

New ways to play(Station)

I was going to blog something else today, but at exactly the right time I got the OK to reveal some exciting news: Cancertown is coming to the PSP (PlayStation®portable) as a digital comic!

All of Insomnia Publications' graphic novels will be released as monthly digital chapters from the Digital Comics Store on the PlayStation®Network starting this December when the service launches. Dont take my word for it though, check out the official press release on Insomnia's Red Eye blog for more details including the launch titles that will be available.

The PSP digital comics store is being supported by big comic companys like Marvel and IDW so looks like this thing could catch on. It may even grap some new comic readers as well.

In other Insomnia news that I forgot to mention, Temple APA, the downloadable comics showcase magazine has done a huge piece on Insomnia is their latest issue that can be found here. They've featured a good bit of my art in there too.

It's a good time to be an Insomniac :)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Back from BICS

Had a great weekend at BICS followed closely by my 25th birthday yesterday so I'm a little exhausted, but very happy.

Had the pleasure of meeting many Insomnia Creators for the first time over the weekened, as well as catching up with a few of my frequent collaborators. Here I am with only a few of them :

Michuri Morikawa, Cy Dethan, Andrew Croskey, Valia Kapadai and me.

Insomnia's newest launch titles, Burke and Hare and Buskers, got off to a great start and Insomnia's table had a crowd around it the whole weekend. Also on display at the stand was Ferret's massive Cancertown quilt, which I got to see for the first time. I think you can get a sense of scale in the photo below:

Insomnia's Alasdair and Duncan myself with Ferret's huge Cancertown quilt

Special thanks goes to Valia Kapadai who painted me this beautiful rendition of some Cancertown characters (and let me borrow the above photos for this blog):

Cancertown by Valia kapadai

Check out valia's Deviant art page to see all the other fantastic paintings she produced for her Insomnia buddies.

Other things that happened:

For a more revolutionary take on the the weekend, check out Cy's fantasy styled role playing blog post, which is quite possibly the best con report ever.

I've a lot of drawing on the table these days, which I'm happy about, so I'm going to be cutting the blog back to once a week, which will probably be every Wednesday night. Hopefully some new art and less rambling by then...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Covering new ground

New comic project:
I'm drawing a comic for the boys at Beserker Comics, publishers of The Dead, among other fine comics. They're a relatively small comic company based in Belfast, but the talent working with them (Alan Grant, Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry etc) is HUGE. Its fantastic just to be able to say I share a publisher with those guys.

We're not 100% sure what the comic itself will be called (it might be a 'Beserker presents:' sort of title) but the story I'm working on is called 'My New Best Friend' and is written by Micheal Baxter. The above image is the cover to the comic, pencilled by myself, inked by Andy Brown and coloured by Ryan Brown. Those guys really know how to do a good job, and we'll be working on the interiors together.

The story will be 24 pages but we're taking this at a slow pace, as the Beserker boys are busy with their publishing business and I've still a good bit of work to do on Slaughterman's Creed. It may even be Halloween 2010 before the comic hits shelves, but I'll update as we make progress.

You will actually hear the Beserker Crew talk on the Sunnyside comics Podcast next week, which is now back on Itunes. (Which also means you've no excuse if you havn't heard Andrew Croskery and myself's so called 'interview' on Ep. 7)
Speaking of Podcasts, Cancertown writer Cy Dethan has been interviewed by the Comicbook Outsiders. This is another one of my regular podcasts and I'm away now to listen to what Cy has to say...

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Photogenic Fiends

It was a lot easier getting photo reference for Cancertown, considering that Morley was one of the few humans in the story and I could base him on myself. There's a much bigger cast for Slaughterman's Creed, so I had the idea of doing lots and lots of layouts, then having one big photoshoot. I've had two so far, and basically just had a few friends round, with a few drinks, a BBQ and some silly posing.

Here's Andrew Croskery, writer of kronos city with Aidan Largey, who wrote a neat crime story for Insomnia's Layer Zero: Choices anthology, acting out a quick scene and the resulting panels. This is from the first photoshoot, but when I get a chance I'll show a longer video, maybe a whole page worth and the resulting panels.

Its not that I'm atrocious at holding a camera, I was just explaining the next shot to the guys and kept the camera rolling. At least if I ever need a good crotch shot I can always use Andrew as reference.

Looking forward to BICS next weekend and sorting out my portfolio. I'll think I'll be bringing the cover I did for an upcoming project that I'll reveal on wednesday before I head off...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Mr. Green

Mr. Green is another twisted character from the warped mind of Cy Dethan. He's covered head to toe in leaf tatoos to resemble the Mr. Green force of nature from English legend and will be appearing in our upcoming Markosia comic Slaughterman's Creed
Sounded like fun to draw. Here's my initial character design:

I can be a stickler for panel continuity so I wanted to layout Green's tatoos before I got to drawing him in the actual comic pages and keep it as consistent as possible.I drew the above intricate image with the idea of scanning it at a high resolution and simply using photoshop to place it over the inked drawings of Green. I gave it a try once, but the warping/shaping and cutting it took to make it fit from various angles was more effort than it was worth and I ended up losing time.
Since I would be drawing each tatoo by hand, I wanted a simpler but still detailed tatoo layout; both because I would be drawing it over and over again and because I didn't want the face looking too cluttered when rendering the tatoo in ink. The above version has less leaves but, I think, a bolder design overall. Most of the leaves and sections divided into prongs of 3, so it should be easier to draw without having to count how many prongs were on each leaf every time.
I ended up adding more leaves surrounding the face/design, but the main structure is still there on the page. You can see I done something similar with the chest/arms to give the tatoo a consistent focal point and the 'in-between' parts will be filled with leaves. Now that it scanned, and in my Slaughterman's Creed 'tools' folder, I just open the file for reference when drawing Mr. Green.
If anyone is going to BICS next week, I'll be carrying about a few pages of Slaughterman's Creed if you'd like a closer inspection.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sunnyside bring the Bees out

The Red Bee (and Michael the bee)! Re-imagined for a modern audience with an exciting noir twist, coming to a comic store the 1st of Never!
If you want to hear the inspiration behind this quick digital sketch you can download or listen online to the latest Sunnyside comics podcast.

Andrew Croskery and I were the first ever 'guests' on episode 7 and talked a bit about Cancertown, Kronos City, our Publishers Insomnia Publications, and the Belfast comics meet up.

You can hear me um, ah, mmm and babble my way through the podcast, but I did manage to finish a few points (mostly got distracted though), forget how to pronounce Cy's Dethan's name and take part in the hilarious 'Superpower or subpower' quiz (which I'd like someone to count up as I'm sure I got more points :P)


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Little preview image from a short project I'm hoping to get finished today. Still a good bit to do, so it'll be a quick blog...
Got home late last night from recording a podcast with the guys at Sunnyside comics, so missed my Wednesday blog again! Myself and Andrew Croskery managed to squeeze in a few words about Insomnia, Cancertown, Kronos city and the Belfast comics meetup before losing the Superpower or subpower comics quiz.
Very enjoyable time with PJ, Ron and Scott. There's a few photos up on their site now and hopefully the podcast will be up on Sunday night and I'll stick up a link to it.
In other comic related news, Bob heske is showing off the really spooky front cover for the upcoming 2012: Final Prayer anthology for which I've drawn an 8 page story (you can see the front cover by Preston Asevedo below). If you look here, you'll also find a full list of contributers, including details of the foreword, foreboding and afterword by a few 2012 research experts.

The book also features artwork from Cancertown colourist Mel Cook, who is providing the whole art this time for a story called "2012: APOCALYPSE IN FIVE PARTS", and will sport a variant cover by Cancertown cover artist Paul Cartwright.

Speaking of Cancertown collaborators, Cy Dethan is showing off some new pages of my Slaughterman's Creed artwork on his blog as well as some art from his other projects; The Indifference Engine and The case files of Harlan Faulk.

I knew it was a matter of time before we took over the comicbook world :D

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Power of the pencil!

Look what a simple redraw can do. I was having a particularly bad drawing day and produced a panel that wasn't fit for print. A quick redraw later (I actually used the same reference for the figure in the centre/foreground for both versions, the background figures were drawn from my head) and the panel looks a lot better.

The second version (please don't judge me on the first) was inked using the new brush pens I reviewed last week. I've updated that review with these width comparisons (the update has the name of each brush used:

In other news:

  • Insomnia Publications (publishers of Cancertown) have big plans for the BICS this October (less than three weeks away!). They're launching Burke and hare, Milk, and Buskers original graphic novels. They also have unbeatable special prices at the Insomnia table for all their current and books. I urge you to check out their blog here for more information and a lot more insight and previews of the upcoming graphic novels.
  • Nic Wilkinson, Insomnia's creative director and letterer for Cancertown and Slaughterman's Creed has been interviewed by the girls at the comic racks podcast. Lots of insight not only the creative but the editorial side of comics publishing. I'm mentioned a few times as well :)
  • Go and support your Irish Artists by voting for Will Sliney and Dave Hendricks The Symptoms over Zuda comics. It's well worth your vote (some lovely art and great characters) and they need votes if we want to see more.
  • Speaking of Podcasts, I had the pleasure of meeting Stacey Whittle of Small Press Big Mouth podcast, of which I'm a regular reader, and Lee Robson, who has just signed his GN Babble with Insomnia, when I was over at newcastle (England, not the place with the bumper cars) this past week with Aimee. Great comic chat with lovely people.
The trip to newcastle was incidently why there was no Wednesday blog this week (no internet connection at all), but back to a regular schedule now...

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Brushing up..

I ordered 4 new inking brush pens last last week. The Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium, Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine, Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer and Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen Ink - Black (which all together came to just over £10 with free shipping). Now that I've had the chance to try them out I'm going to give my opinion of them.

The following piece, of Lenny Addison from Slaughterman's Creed, was drawn with the first 3 brush pens I mentioned. I didn't use the Tombow, which I'd tried the night before and found the ink to be a little faded with almost a hint of blue-ish to it. It did have the thickest of the 4 brushes (on one end, with a smaller nib or the other side) but it sat out for this particular piece.
The piece below was drawn on plain a4 sketchpad paper (which I'm using to draw most of my comic pages in a3 size these days) but I'll test the pens on bristol board in a follow-up blog.
Pencils: The Gif below is animated just to show my first pencils, then a little correction to the eye, as I noticed it was too high when I first scanned the piece (looks like Lenny has a twitch).

I then used the The Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium to draw all the outlines and main features. The first thing I noticed was that the width of the brush is less that half that of the Pentel brush Pen I would normally use, The brush itself is firm but flexible, giving it a nice 'bounce'. I found myself inking more than I was going to with this pen as I could get quite a small line as well without having to switch to another tool. The flow of Ink is lovely and a steady movement will result in a very dark line. You won't be able to get a full dry brush effect as the tip is constantly wet, but moving the brush really fast can produce a somewhat rough effect, as seen on the hair above Lenny's ear: As I said, I ended up using the medium brush more than I had planned, but I did add in little details with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine. This needs a firmer pressure to create a decent line (with quick stokes being a little whispy), and my first impression was that the pen was almost reduntant considering the varied width that could be achieved with the medium brush. However since then, while switching between the two, I've noticed the fine pen allows weight to be leaned firmer on the paper/pen and removes the delicate approuch to drawing fine lines that would be needed for the medium brush or a normal paintbrush. The fine brush is closer to a normal pen than the medium, but with the added bonus of being able to alter the line weight, if to a lesser extent than the medium Kuretake.
However, this is when I first noticed the drying time for these brush pens. While erasing the pencil under the ink, the lines I had created with fine brush slightly smudged (it may not be very noticable in the picture below but there is a smudge at the bottom right of the lip and the eyebrow on the left). I think the drying time for the Kuretake Brush pens is somwhere over 30 seconds, but I'll have a proper comparison on my next blog. As I'd menitioned above,, the medium Kuretake is smaller than the Pentel brush pen, so you will still need a larger brush for big blacks. I wouldn't want to fill any blacks more than a sqaure inch or so as it would be both time consuming and waste the pen ink. The big blacks on the jacket, tie and neck were filled in with a normal Winsor & Newton brush and ink. I then went back to the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium and added more line weight to the left outline of the face, a few of the features and added a few more details around the collar with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine: The Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer is an empty compressible tube with a brush tip on the end. This lets you fill the tube with either water for blending, or an ink soloution (or I suppose really any thin liquid) letting you brush with it. It took a few tries to get the right balance of ink and water for a nice grey, I'm not sure what the combination was, but I'm guessing somwhere near half and half. I put the water/ink in a sink and submerged the tube while compressed and let it fill with water.
When applying the ink, changing the pressure you apply on the tube will push more of your solution onto the brush tip, but if you squeeze even a little to hard the point where the brush meets the tube will leak although I found it fairly easy to control after a few tries on a scrap of paper. Before this, I would have dipped my pen in ink, then water and hoped for the best, but this is a really nice solution (ha!) to producing a nice and faily constant grey:

This revealed a crucial flaw in the Kuratake pens; They're not waterproof. Any amount of water applied to them will blur the fine lines created earlier. The waterproof Indian Ink that was applied with the Winsor & Newton brush stayed perfectly still on the page while the Kurake ink smudged. Anyone who wants to paint watercolour or grayscale over preserved fine sketching had best avoid the Kuratakes. Initially this did put me off, but I realised that for the sort of style I could create with this combination of pens, the grayscale sort of made fine hatching irrelevent.
Overall I'm really happy with these three brush/pens, and hopefully have more to show using them.
Update: Brush width comparisations: First line is finest line I could get with the brush/pen. The second line being the widest. In theory these should be actual size but I don't know how it will differ screen from screen:
Brush rolecall (In order of appearance above):
Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Fine,
Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush - Medium,
Zig BrusH2O Waterbrush Detailer (which I've just realised is branded Kuretake on the side)
Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen Ink - Black
Faber-Castell Brush pen (bare in mind, mine is worn and running out)
Winsor & Newton paint brush and Winsor & Newtwon Black indian ink size 000, size 00 and size 2
A old thicker brush that I can't remember the name of and is quite worn away (used for filling balcks).