April 18, 2019

Drawing with pen and ink can be very simple but the starkness that also comes with it can challenge someone’s artistic skills. But like we mentioned in our article “FOUNTAIN PENS: ARE THEY GOOD FOR SKETCHING,” fountain pens make sketching more inventive. Hence, exerting effort to learn pen drawing techniques will be all worthwhile.

When drawn with proper techniques, ink drawing can carry a certain evocative power that stems from the cleanliness of the finished work. However, that same cleanliness can also leave you vulnerable because high contrast line drawings give you nowhere to hide.

Every line communicates knowledge and power or timidity and uncertainty. It’s a fine line between one and the other, no pun intended.

Here are 6 techniques for making an ink drawing more approachable and less nerve-racking. Grab your best fountain pens and inks from Dryden Designs and let's get started.

  1. Tools for Pen Sketching

To draw in ink, you need a pen, nibs, and ink. Some artists prefer using dip pens with broad nibs for this but many have discovered the beauty of fountain pen with fine nib sketching.

When drawing with pens, you just have to remember to only pull or drag a nib to make marks. Pushing will cause splatters and ruin your work. Also, a slight change in pressure will change the thickness of your lines. These are things you need to get used to at the outset.  

  1. The Pen “Strokes”

There are several techniques for creating the illusion of gradations in value using high contrast black ink on white paper. Nib pens are great for this. Draw structures in shadows with thicker lines, and structures in light with thinner lines.

Try it yourself: draw a circle, then go over the bottom of it with a heavier line and immediately it gains volume and looks like a ball. 

  1. Pens: Fountain Pens, Markers, Ball Point – Use All Pens You Have For Line Variety

Many artists like to use different pens for different things. Thick markers can be used for large shadows because they’re big and chunky and cover a lot of paper quickly. Ballpoint pens can be used for smaller shadows and thick continuous lines.

Fountain pens can be used for fine lines on constructing facial or hair details. A blue writing pen might be good for clouds, waves, or anything that might look cool in blue. Consider all the characteristics of your pens, like color, thickness, etc. Be creative and stay alert for any pen that can make your work distinct.  

  1. The Right Way to Holding the Pen 

Simply changing the way you hold your pen can add an extra dimension to your drawings and make them special and unique so that they stand out from other artists. There are some artists who like to hold their pen at the back whenever possible. This creates looseness in their lines that often present unexpected opportunities in their work.

If your drawings are usually very tight and controlled, give this method a try, you might surprise yourself with the wonderful accidents that can happen. 

  1. Adding Water for Effects

When working with ink, tones can become a puzzle. Try rubbing a bit of water onto your fresh ink lines to create softer tones. Softer tones alongside ink lines create a wonderful contrast and will make your drawings a little more lifelike. 

  1. Remember to Use Your Dry Pens Too

The unforgiving permanence of ink can stress some people out. But remember, just because you’re making an ink drawing doesn’t mean you have to use ink all the way through.

If launching straight into ink is too much pressure, try drawing your image in pencil first, then add ink over it. Either way works, just do what you’re comfortable with to set yourself up for the greatest joy. 

Final Words 

Art should be fun. You can forget this when you worry too much about making mistakes or obsess over every line you draw and forget the joy of making art. Remember the bigger picture. Every journey every making is fraught with mistakes and missteps. That’s okay; it’s normal.

Just remember that each line serves a greater whole and leads to your final image. If you make a mistake, chill out and move on – it might not even be noticeable in the end. Your lines WILL get better with time so enjoy the journey of drawing with pens and inks. 


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