Draw like a Pro
Following on from our Expert Cutting Tips earlier this month, I wanted to give you my top drawing tips. This is by no means the only pens you can use to draw, but these are the ones I find myself going back to time and again. They are all easy to use with your machine, and I've provided affiliate links so you get the right tools your need.
Choosing the right pen holder
Brother offers two pen holders for the Scan ‘n’ Cut: the Mini Pen Holder and the Universal Pen Holder. They each have their own uses and benefits but make sure you get the right one for you.
Mini Pen Holder
This holder takes Brother’s own mini pens – these are currently available in a limited range of basic colours. The real benefit of this holder comes with the introduction of the fabric pens in blue and purple, perfect for the dressmakers out there.
Universal Pen Holder
This holder can takes standard size pens (think ballpoint to broader felt tip), it adjusts to various sizes to hold the pen securely. It really extends what you can do with your machine – whether that is embossing, foiling, scoring or simply drawing.
Your machine will come with a preset speed and pressure for drawing, and for most pens you will not want to change this. However, we would recommend making a note of these initial settings. Mine is set at speed 3 and pressure 0 for most of my pens. However, as I take you through my top choice of pens and tools I will tell you how to alter these settings to suit the tool.
Top 5 Pens and Tools to use with the Universal Pen Holder
For this post, we will be focusing on the Universal Pen Holder as it allows for much more creative scope. The relative numbers do not indicate a particular rank of that pen and these are my favourites.
The default settings will be fine for this pen at its mid point. For fresher to new pens, you may find better results with a higher speed as the pens are quite wet. You will also want to choose your fonts wisely at smaller point sizes, but as you can see from the photo you can certainly create smaller text sizes successfully. As the pens age, you will want to slow the speed and slightly increase the pressure to help you to get the most product out of your pen.
This pen enables you to glitter, flock, emboss and foil elements of your design.
To make the most of this pen, you MUST use Canvas online (you can use laptops, tablets or even your phone). Using Canvas you can set lines to draw only, cut only and draw & cut. With the width of the nib for this pen, cut and draw isn't worth using as it is too fine to be noticed. So I would stick to using draw only lines for the best results. Another great option recently introduced is the fill options, set your fill pattern on your machine to suit your design and check the fill button online in Canvas. I highly recommend experimenting with this great function on larger shapes and areas.
Glitter and Flock
To work with these types of particles, go for a more open design and/or use the fill settings in canvas. I would also advise cutting your design FIRST, then draw and remove from the mat immediately and cover the card in glitter/flock away from your machine and mat. Allow your design to dry before tapping to remove excess.
You can emboss either on lines or fill, for smaller designs leave the fill option unchecked as it will conflict with legibility. The sample I've shown here is with lower quality embossing powder, but you can get amazing results with a fine or detail embossing powder. Cut first, glue but you can allow the glue to go clear for this medium. Remove from mat and sprinkle embossing powder away from your mat and machine. Heat as normal.
Foiling will love filled designs and the more time to allow the glue to dry the better. Draw your design first and then cut your design out. If the glue has not yet gone clear, set your piece to one side. Once clear, remove from mat and lay your foil sheet colour side up over your design. Burnish well using your finger or bone folder. Remove the sheet carefully, you may find some foil lifts away from the sheet at the edges of your design - simply remove using a soft paintbrush. Stroke your brush away from your design to prevent it sticking to your design. You may need an extra fine brush for internal areas of your design.
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2: Cocoiro Refill by Kuretake
This refill is ideal for producing fine line work for intricate designs and smaller point sizes of text. The refill is perfectly sized to go into the holder at its tightest setting. The outer Cocoiro case will not fit the holder, so I recommend simply purchasing the refills separately. Be sure to hold on to the nib lid in the packet and replace it when the pen is not in use.
The default settings will be fine for this pen throughout its life. Be aware that your pen will eventually wear on its tip, but it has a very firm nib that will take a lot of uses to do so. I would not necessary recommend using the fill option for this refill except on smaller text.
The nib of this refill is perfect for drawing and illustration work alongside finer typography work. The detail you can get with this refill has to be seen to be believed.
I love to use these refills to reproduce outlining work for colouring by hand. I love to scan in my drawings using Adobe Capture before converting to SVG for the machine. I then manually fill using the pen rather than allow the machine to do so. My designs are than coloured with alcohol markers such as Kurecolor Fine & Brush by Kuretake.
Cocoiro refills are great at fine detail - reproducing text at smaller point sizes accurately more so than any other pen. The colours can also add a real zing to your page.
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3: Pen-Touch by Sakura
You will need to prime your pen before placing in the holder, and I recommend priming before each draw. Shake the pen well (especially the metallics) and draw a line but do not pump unless you are using the pen for the first time.
On your machine, I would first try your normal settings as I rarely change mine from default. If you are not getting enough ink, try increasing your pressure slightly and decrease your speed. As such, your speed would be 1-2, and your pressure 1-2 may give you the optimum results.
The nib of this paint pen is perfect for drawing and illustration work alongside medium sized typography work. While it can work with smaller text as shown, the pen can struggle to keep characters easy to read. I would advise checking your font before committing it to a finished design.
The finish of these pens is marvellous with the machine, the photographs never do it justice. The metallics are rich and add a touch of luxury while the white is opaque and lovely to work with when correctly primed.
With the update adding filling options, these pens can really come into their own. The filling texture when set to solid comes out as if woven silk, and the edges remain intact and sharp. If you are quick, and your design is small, you could emboss with clear embossing powder to secure the colour.
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After a quick squiggle, place in the holder and move the nib to the end of the holder and gently touching the guide. The settings on your machine should mirror that of your Quickie Glue Pen.
The glaze can be used to create intricate swirls, dots and more to add a subtle gloss design. You could also use this pen in place of clear embossing powder for resist work and illustration outlining.
The filling option really encourages you to use this pen. Draw and fill highlight areas over matt photos and paper to draw the eye, add a subtle title without overpowering your image or go to town to create your own patterned paper.
You could fit any of the Jelly Roll pens into the Universal Pen Holder, so experiment with sparkles, soufflés and more.
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The reason we work with an automatic pencil is so that we have a consistent, accurate line. I would recommend work with a lead 0.5~0.7mm width with a HB-5H rating due to the pressure. You will need to set your pressure at 0 or lower so as not to wear your lead out too quickly. Watch as your machine draws; if the line stops, pause the machine, click your pencil to advance the lead once, press the play/pause again.
Using a pencil can give us an accurate outline to create a pattern or illustration to. Draw a basic outline before hand drawing in a lacy pattern ready for the final cutting file. It can also be used to mark score lines on more complex patterns where curves are required or simply to avoid using perforated lines.
Pencil lines can also be used to render text ready for hand inking - a good way of practicing a variety of lettering styles.
**Bonus** Embossing with your Scan 'n' Cut
There are ways of adding basic embossing to your machine without going to the expense of the full embossing kit. You could try using a basic embossing tool in your Universal Pen Holder instead. There are many on the market, so you are bound to find one that will fit. Another idea is to use a dry ballpoint pen instead.