the black lines

Dick Bruna’s heartbeat

Did you know that Dick Bruna drew everything by hand? He never used a computer, but drew it all himself. First he’d make pencil sketches on tracing paper. Once he was pleased with the result, he’d place the tracing paper on watercolour paper and transfer the lines of the drawing with a hard pencil. He’d press so hard that it would leave a visible groove in the watercolour paper. He’d then use the groove to guide his brush when painting, trimming the hairs of the brush until it had the perfect thickness. Then he’d draw the contours using black poster paint. He never used a ruler for straight lines. If he made a mistake, he’d start all over and keep going until it was perfect.

This is how his characteristic “shaky” lines originated. They were never smoothened, thereby adding a dynamic element to the drawings. In a way, the lines have captured Dick Bruna’s heartbeat. Take a close look!

© Mercis bv