New Ink Art: The Creature

I’ve been trying to get back into my art, after the hiatus that I took earlier this year. In some ways it has worked fine, in others, not so much. But the other night I just had it in my mind that I wanted to do some ink art, so I did.

I’ve created an ink of the Creature From The Black Lagoon before (here, even), from a front view. But I’ve wanted to revisit it for awhile, to try something new with it. It was the perfect thing to try the other night, and, for the first time in a great while, I was genuinely excited to do something.

It’s not that I don’t put my all into everything that I do, I certainly put my powers into it as much as I can. Often, though, it just feels like going through the numbers. In this case, I was just beside myself the entire time I was inking. That’s a good feeling, and one that I’ve missed for a long time. 

So, I found a number of good reference photos of the Creature, and went to it. There aren’t very many photos directly from the side, so I had to come up with part of it based off of those slightly askew angles. But I think it worked out well.

I use 140 lb. Cold Press Watercolor Stock for my ink work. I use stock from Strathmore or Arches normally, for this piece it’s Strathmore 500 Series Watercolor stock. They make a nice pack of 25 sheets, pre-cut to 5″ x 7″, which is perfect for the smaller inks I do.

I started with some light pencil lines, using a 2H pencil (a Prismacolor Turquoise pencil, for you art geeks). You can still see some of the pencil lines in the next image. Then I grabbed my Micron 02 ink pen, and put in a few general lines. Some strong, others light and/or broken, but a good start. Click on any of the upcoming images for larger versions.


Now, the next photo didn’t quite work out, but I think you can see enough of it in the next image in line. Basically, I went in with the Micron 3 pen, and the 05 and 08 pens, and added some much thicker lines. Then I started adding in finer lines with the 02 pen again. I started around the eyes this time, but each piece starts in a different spot.


I then jumped around a bit, to the forehead and mouth area, and kept adding lines. I could see I was heading in the right direction, and I darkened a few other lines while I was at it.


After a bajillion lines (estimated, of course), I ended up with the fully inked Creature. As a side note about crosshatching, you can see where I changed methods to get different textures. Different angles, lines overlapping each other, gaps between some areas, those sorts of things.


Then, as I have a tendency to do, I added a black background. I like the contrast that the solid black background gives on these closer views, I think it adds more intimacy to the piece. I do backgrounds of various details and shades in all of my pieces, but for these I just like the contrast of a simple, black background.

For this photo, I also left part of the black background undone, so that you can see the effect. I usually go over the background first with a Pitt Brush Pen, which works pretty well. It doesn’t tend to give a nice, solid black though, so I go back over with ink on a paintbrush later on. The brushed on ink gives it a smooth finish, a nice, solid look.

By the way, the ink is from a stupidly old bottle I’ve had since the mid-90’s, that I partially refill every so often. The gunk at the bottom probably holds secrets to the universe or something, especially being a quarter of an inch thick. But, that’s how I roll.


Here’s the final version of my new ink, it’s 5″ x 7″ on 140 lb. Cold Press stock. I call it The Creature, since my previous ink of this monster is the full title, and to do anything different would be confusing. Click on it for a larger version.

The Creature

As is often the case, I decided to fool with it a bit in Photoshop too. I like playing with textures and colors in Photoshop, especially in a case like this where it’s black and white. The textures and colors allow me to explore a different look for the same piece, and can be quite fun.

Here’s that color version, and it adds a watery feel to the whole thing. Which is appropriate. Which do you like better?

The Creature: Color

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Russell Dickerson has been a lot of things over many years. Author, artist, designer, winner of awards and recognition, pursuer of the truth, leader of the earth after armageddon.