Archive for Sketchbook


Respect the Rotring

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I was first introduced to Rotring technical drawing equipment back in 1989 when I first attended Rochdale College of Art & Design. As part of the foundation course I was enrolled on, we did a six-week crash course on Graphic Design. Bear in mind that in 1989, not many colleges/universities had embraced the Apple Mac yet. The most expensive piece of kit a design student owned in those days was a set of Rotring Isograph technical drawing pens and a tin of Spray Mount. I’m sure for today’s student, it’ a Macbook Pro.

I loved my Isograph pens. As a designer that favoured illustration and marker visuals, my .25mm was my weapon of choice. Nowadays, I favour Faber-Castell PITT pens for doodling but I’m still using my 20+ year old Rotring 500 Rollerball, ballpoint pen and mechanical pencils.

Rotring Rollerball

Rotring 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

Rotring Leather Pen Case

And a real blast from the past – the Rotring Technical Pen cleaning tub. Fill it with nibs, water and cleaning solution and leave it over night to get those nibs clean.



The Wacom Inkling

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Ahh the Wacom drawing tablet. Day by day these fantastical looking gadgets are becoming a more common sight on graphic designers desks. No bull, but I think 99% of all graphic designers I know have ditched the mouse and are using a drawing tablet as their main weapon of choice. Watching a skilled designer fly round the screen using one of those pens is a sight to behold. Magical!!

But, try as I may, I just can’t get used to using a drawing tablet. The ‘not looking at my hand while drawing’ concept is just something my tiny brain can’t get to grips with. Fellow designer friends continually encourage me to persevere – “eventually it will happen and you’ll never look back” – but it just isn’t happening for me.

Therefore, if I want to bring my scribblings to life on the ‘puter, I’m left either using the good old mouse or going totally old skull and scanning in my drawings to Photoshop. Not that I have a problem with this. I actually get a lot of satisfaction from turning off the Mac, getting out the layout pad, pencil and ink pens and having a doodle. Many a logo or graphic image that I have produced for a client started out as a sketch that was scanned in to the Mac. I also genuinely feel that drawing freehand on paper encourages experimentation and rewards mistakes. As skilled as I am using the tools in Adobe Illustrator, some of my favourite pieces have started out as sketch that I have merely traced over or ‘coloured in’.

Which brings me on to the Wacom Inkling. A scanner and pen combo that transfers your biro drawings in to editable bitmap and/or vector artwork. How does it work? Well I’m not entirely sure. It appears the scanner (that you clip on to the edge of your regular drawing pad) works in conjunction with the pressure sensitive pen to record the pen’s position and degree of pressure on the paper – thus allowing it to differentiate between light shading for instance and heavy scribbling. The Inkling also has the ability to record ‘layers’ therefore allowing you to split elements of your drawings off for full editable control on the computer afterwards. As a friend on Twitter remarked the other week – “Surely it’s witchcraft?”

The scanner is able to save all your drawings until you are ready to upload to your computer. So, let’s say for instance you are sat in a Starbucks and the urge came over you to do some doodling in your Moleskin*. Just clip the scanner to the edge of your pad, sketch away and when you were back at you Mac, upload your efforts. Unfortunately, the Inkling can not rewind time (yet!), so you need to make the decision beforehand if you wanted to record this drawing or not. I suppose you would just get in to the habit that anytime you decided to doodle, you would automatically activate the Inkling. At present, I just doodle away and if something looks interesting and worth developing, I would scan it in. With the Inkling, you may find yourself ‘retracing’ over doodles.

I am really interested in purchasing one. As someone who doodles a lot, I can really see the potential in it. But ideally, I want to see one in action first before I stump up £150. I’ve already thrown £50 a Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet and that’s gathering dust on a shelf somewhere…

*I have never had the urge to do any drawings in my pad in a Starbucks… or any other ‘coffeeshop’ for that matter.


Facebook DeathStar

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A graphic I created for the July 2011 issue of MarketingDotCom magazine. Created using fibre-tip pen and Photoshop.


Latest doodles

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Haven’t uploaded anything in a while so I though I’d post up some doodles.

These illustrations were created for MarketingDotCom Magazine.

Yes, they are fibre tip pen drawings!


Original GameBoy

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Another scanned illustration from my old marker pen sketchpad, this time an original GameBoy. Illustration produced circa 1993 using Magic Markers and Rotring Isograph technical pen.


Retro Joystick

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Illustration of a Commodore 64 joystick produced circa 1993 using Magic Markers and Rotring Isograph technical pen.


Little Ninja

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You know how sometimes, when you’re on the phone, you just start doodling on the pad in front of you. Well I pretty much do that every time I’m on the phone.

More often that not though, these doodles stay as forgotten scribblings in my pad. Except for today that is.

After a call to the tax office, I looked at the sketch I had done and thought “You my little fella, are getting the Vector Treatment!”

Why I was compelled to draw a ninja while on the phone to the taxman, your guess is as good as mine…


Golf Course Illustrations

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A set of illustrations produced circa 1993 using Magic Markers and Rotring Isograph technical pen.


Optimist v Pessimist

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Illustration I created for an article in the November issue of MDC (Marketing Dot Com newsletter)

In case you are wondering, this illustration is created the ‘old school’ way i.e. doodled out on paper using pencil, then fibre tip pen and then scanned in.