How to Use Pen and Ink Drawing Techniques Lesson
Beginners are sometimes afraid to draw with pen and ink because ink lines seem so definite and permanent. Once you realize that you can erase ink lines just as you can erase pencil lines, you will draw with more courage. So — buy your erasers before you start to draw! The flat disks of hard rubber with little brushes attached that are used by stenographers are good ink erasers. But you will also want a razor blade knife, which you can buy in most stationery stores. With it you can scrape the ink lines away if you draw on good strong paper.
Then you will want a small jar of poster white tempera paint. That is really an opaque water-color paint which costs very little. With it you can paint out your ink lines. But now that you have your erasers, I hope you never have to use them. Next buy a few pen points and pen holders. I prefer a crow quill pen to any other. It has a fine flexible point that makes it possible to draw anything from a delicate hair line to a heavy line about one sixteenth of an inch wide.
Now get a bottle of black India ink, Higgins or Artone or any other good India ink. There are many colored India inks, but I believe the only ones that should be used for drawing are the black ones, or perhaps the dark browns. The other colors should be used for painting with ink.
Here are lines drawn with four different pen points.
You can use any good paper with a good surface for pen drawing.I prefer a sheet of two-ply Twachtman with either a shiny hot-pressed surface or a kid finish. A hot-pressed surface is smooth, almost polished. A kid finish has just a little tooth or roughness to the surface. A two-ply paper is just about thick enough so that you can erase or scrape out your ink lines. The smooth surface paper will allow you to move your pen fast. The slightly rough surface paper holds your pen back just a little. I like to work with different kinds of paper, depending on the subject I am drawing and the kinds of lines I want. You may also use a thinner or heavier paper — a typewriting paper or a Bristol board. And at last get yourself a medium fine water-color brush and a box of paper tissues to clean your pen points.
Now that you have your materials, take a hard lead pencil — number 3 or 21/2 and make an almost complete drawing of some object. Draw lightly, for you will want to erase your pencil lines after you do your pen drawing. Before you begin drawing with your pen, practice on another clean sheet of paper. Dip your pen in the ink and doodle ! Hold your pen a bit more firmly than you do your pencil. Do not dip the point too deep into the ink. Start by making some whirls and swirls, crosshatches, lines of different weight — thin lines, heavy lines, curved lines. Just scribble. When you feel you can control your pen — draw !
Every line you draw counts when you are using pen and ink. You cannot get the light lines you can with a pencil. Although you can shade your pen drawings in the same way you do your pencil drawings, each pen line, no matter how thin it is, is completely black. There is no in between as there is with a pencil line. As you shade you can draw lines with your shape or against it. You can crosshatch as you shade, or round out, your shapes. Keep your pen clean by wiping it on your tissue.
When you finish your drawing you can use a brush dipped in ink to put down some completely black areas in the deepest shadows or for some other purpose. But be careful not to use your brush too often or you will be doing a brush drawing. When your pen drawing is about halfway through and all the most important lines are put down in ink and the ink is dry, erase your pencil lines with a soft kneading rubber, gently. Then go on and finish your pen-and-ink drawing. Do not begin to erase any of your ink lines until you are almost finished with the drawing, because if you erase the ink lines with your hard ink eraser you will find that you scrape the surface of your paper. Then when you draw over the scraped part of the paper the ink lines may blot. Do not draw over the scraped surface of your paper any more than you absolutely have to. The razor blade knife will also spoil the surface of the paper. And you will have trouble too if you paint out some ink lines with the white poster paints and try to draw on top of the dried paint.
You can do a pen line drawing without using any shading at all. Of course, the line you draw must try to stress the modeling of the object you are drawing. Here is a good way to make a pen line drawing. Do a careful,si mple pencil drawing. Then place a clean sheet of good typewriting paper over your pencil drawing. Hold your paper down with one hand, then dip your pen in ink and quickly trace your pencil drawing with a flowing pen line. You need not stick too carefully to your pencil lines. This is a good exercise. Another good exercise is sketching with a ball point pen, making no preliminary pencil drawing at all. Just look at someone or something and scribble. You can do scribble drawings with other pens, too. You will use a pen with more competence when you do serious drawing if you practice scribble drawings and flowing pen line drawings.
Scribble pen drawing by Honore Daumier (1808-1879)
QUALITIES OF INK DRAWING THAT YOU SHOULD TRY TO CREATE
Here are the qualities you should try for in pen-and-ink drawing:
three-dimensional shape and good movement fine rhythm of line.
You must use your ink wisely or you will just have another cluttered, muddy drawing.
Ink drawings should be crisp, uncluttered. Each line or ink blot must mean something. Use less rather than more ink to get this effect.
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