A Dotwork Artist's Toolbox
I thought for my second blog post I would talk you guys through my go to tools for creating my dotwork pieces.
The first step for me is to sketch out the piece with pencil. I know some people prefer to just dot straight on to the page freehand, but being a perfectionist by nature, I would become frustrated with myself very quickly. I once got halfway through an A3 piece of my friend's cat and started again from scratch because I had put too much black in the scruff of their white neck fur. (yes, I know, crazy!) To be fair, the second piece looked so much better and I was glad I started again.
When I first started practising dotwork, I was unsure what pens I should use, so I opted for the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens that I already had. I started using the Fine, Medium and Small nibs and as I was just starting out with the technique, I thought that these would be ideal pens. Which they are, to some extent. The flow of ink on the PITT pens is quite fast and dense, so for me I struggled to obtain lighter and more subtle dotwork where needed. As I progressed and became more experienced in dotwork, I found that I was striving for more detail and therefore needed a finer nib and slower ink flow.
I then discovered the Pilot DR Drawing Pens and decided to try them out, with nibs ranging from 05-01. The 05 gives a 0.5mm tip, the 03 gives a 0.4mm tip and the 01 gives a 0.28mm tip. I now use these for the bulk of most of my work, with their precision and slow ink flow, allowing for a much more precise finish. I tend to use these pens and build up the layers of my dotwork pieces, rather than focus on one area and making it as dark as it needs to be before moving on to another.
The picture below shows the ink impressions of each of the previously mentioned pens. The first 3 pens are the Faber-Castell PITT pens in Medium, Fine and Small before moving on to the Pilot Drawing pens in 05, 03 and 01.
For Christmas last year, my boyfriend Josh, bought me my first Electric Dotspen by Cuttlelola. It is AMAZING!!
For those of you that haven't seen or heard of this before, the premise is essentially the same as a tattoo pen, but with one nib. It comes with ink refills and you can get a few different colours at the moment. I have just purchased two, a blue and yellow set. The pen itself is a revolution. The whole premise of dotwork is repetition, which can be quite demanding on the wrist and resulting in long turnaround times for art pieces. This I do not mind, as I think the whole process and result of dotwork is beautiful. However, when it comes to dense dark patches of almost solid black ink, it can be quite tedious. This is mostly what I use the Cuttlelola Dotspen for, as it drastically reduces the amount of time spent on these areas.
Initially, it takes a little while to get used to but once you get the hang of it, it's really useful. I'm yet to use it on the fastest of the two speeds as I'm not that brave! (It is ridiculously fast!!) I don't really use it for subtle dotwork as I find it's too vigorous for that. I guess the more experienced you are with it, the better your ability to use it for that kind of thing. My dotwork style has evolved to be focused on the detail. For example, I would much rather spend hours building up layers of ultra fine detail using low ink flow pens, than go straight in with heavy ink pens. I just feel that my work is better for it and that this detail comes through in my work.
So there you have it, my experiences with three different brands of ink pens and a little review of what I use now!
I will do a full review on the Cuttlelola Electric Dotspen soon, in order to show off this wonderful little invention.
For the meantime, I do share timelapse videos over on my Instagram page, if you wanted to check it out now and see more of my work.
See you soon.