This Week: How to get the perfect white-out consistency

If you're not very familliar with art materials you might be thinking to yourself " 'White-out?' Doesn't he mean 'Wite-out?' "

Wite out is the horrible, foul smelling goop made by Bic for making small corrections to typing and letters. It's not archival, isn't terribly opaque, bleeds and isn't easy to draw over.

WHITE-out is another word we cartoonists use for what is really a specialized guache for correcting ink drawings. It's super-opaque, has very high quality pigment, is archival, and when applied at the right thickness can be drawn over almost (though not quite) as well as paper.

There's really only two kinds worth buying, Deleter, which I use, and looks like this:
And Pro white, which looks like this:
A third alternative would be a tube of good guache.

The problem with white-out is that it dries out over time, even with the lid kept on. It will eventually harden into a solid cake (which can be re-constituted- NEVER NEVER NEVER throw out dried out white-out.), but more likely you'll have problems something like this: (click to enlarge)
There's two ways around this. One method a lot of people use is summed up by this quote from a DRAWN! blog comment thread on the subject:

Regarding the lid to the jar of Pro White! lid? what lid? Don’t even bother putting the lid back on. I haven’t seen my lid for years! you don’t need it. Use a spray bottle to wet the top when you want to start melting it down for your purposes. You have more control over it that way.

This works okay, but what I love about buying a new jar of white-out is that I'm able to stick my brush in and use it right out of the jar, and I want to be able to do that forever, not have to keep mixing and mixing. And I finally found a way to do that about a year back:

I keep a thin layer of water constantly in my white-out bottle. I DO NOT MIX IT IN. I simply let is sit on the surface.
The effect is quite interesting: When I tried it I was sure it would just soak in, leaving me with a jar of thinner white-out. But it didn't- It forms this fairly complex little multi-layer whiteout ecosystem, like a little atmosphere/ocean/seabed type thing.
Layer 1 is the surface of the water, which is actually opaque white, but I'm drawing it as if it were translucent.

Layer 2 is the murky white water itself.

Later 3 is the damp sea bed, so to speak. There is a thin layer that soaks ion the water and gets wet, but the soaking remains confined to just this thin, wispy layer.

Layer 4 is the constant, perfect layer of ready-to-use thickness white-out this method creates.

Layer 5 is the white-out underneath, which is either just right also or slightly too thick, depending on what you started with when you added the water.

To use the white-out, tilt the bottle.
The water will run off immediately, but the too-thin layer 3 will remain and run down more slowly, taking 3-10 seconds to follow.
The great thing about this method is no holes in the whiteout. The water layer smooths everything back flat as it sits. And the 4th layer is just right, thin enough that you can apply three or four coats before it starts to glop up, but opaque enough that one brush stroke is all you need for totally opaque coverage.

There is one other crucial detail- if you don't want to keep having your water layer evaporate and need replacing, you need the styrofoam seal that comes inside the cap:
It has a nasty habit of falling out, but that's easily fixed by gluing or taping it into the cap. This makes the bottle watertight as it was before you opened it, and hold in all that moisture.

Next week: Refining