Fluffy White Feathers

KC Gillies - swan pointillism illustrationI was pretty sure I didn’t want to draw a white bird. Creating a white bird with just black dots is, well, boring. Boring to do, boring to look it. But I’m in the middle of a project to draw a bird from every family in North America (I think that needs a better name…), and the swan was next on my list. Too bad the black swan doesn’t live here…

I didn’t have a clear picture in my mind either of what I wanted to draw. I had a couple different reference pictures to work from, but none had the “motion” that I was looking for. Let’s be honest, while birds can be incredibly majestic, they’re usually just… living life. So I just played. I really had no expectations for this guy, I wanted to get him out of the way so that I could move on to much more exciting ducks.

One of the things that I’m constantly striving to achieve with pointillism is texture. It’s hard to create something that feels tangible with just dots, so with every drawing, I try to get a little better at it. And so, with the mindset of “just play,”  I started drawing little fluffy feathers all over this guy. This was a bit of a happy revelation for me, being able to create this texture. I have always struggled to do the same thing with pencil, and thought that doing it in pointillism would be (for me) impossible. But, success! I’ve created several more pieces since this one, and furthered that same technique of drawing white feathers for filling in white patches. Stay posted!

Tool Review: J. Herbin Perle Noire Ink

Or, the Little Ink That Could

Black ink is black ink, right? You would certainly think so. However, when it comes to the world of fountain pen ink, that’s not quite the case.

Black fountain pen inks vary broadly in terms of wetness, darkness and hue. Some are very water resistant, most are not. Some are very well-behaved in pens, never clogging or staining, while others, especially water resistant ones, clog feeds and stain barrels. And when diluted, black inks can become shades of blue, green, or purple.

When it comes to black fountain pen inks, especially in relation to using them for drawing, I really like J. Herbin’s Perle Noire ink. This is for 6 reasons:

  1. It’s really dark. It’s definitely a black ink, not a grey ink.
  2. It’s wet so it flows nicely; it feels rich and inky.
  3. It doesn’t fade when erased over.
  4. When diluted, it first shades purple and then green, like a gobstopper. It’s very dynamic.
  5. It doesn’t stain, so I don’t worry about leaving it in my demonstrator pen.
  6. It’s NOT waterproof.


I generally keep my TWSBI 580AL inked up with Perle Noire. That combination behaves well in all but the cheapest paper, and I love the clean, fine lines I can create.

J. Herbin Perle Noire ink review drawing

But this little ink can do much more than line drawings. It’s my favorite thing so far to do pointillism with. I used to use felt-tipped pens like the Kuretake Mangaka Zip pen and Uni Pin Pens, but I was frustrated by the way they faded so much when I erased my guidelines. This ink solves that problem. Plus, the “inky-ness” means much less pressure and much less muscle fatigue. The only caution here is that it becomes very easy to smear the ink, as it takes a few seconds to dry, but I found the same issue with felt-tipped pens.


Perhaps where this ink is really fun though is in creating washes, à la watercolor. This is why I love that it’s not waterproof. As I mentioned above, as it comes into contact with water, it becomes a dark dusky purple, and as you push it further, it becomes green. It has so much depth.


J. Herbin Perle Noire ink review drawing

J. Herbin Perle Noire was my first ink. I knew I wanted a black ink for drawing, one that was dark and wet, but reasonably fast drying and well-behaved. I spent a lot of time researching, and finally decided that I needed a bottle of J. Herbin Perle Noire, and it’s been a fantastic choice (if I do say so myself…)

All the opinions expressed in this blog are my own. I was not compensated for this review.