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Basic Materials and Techniques for Pen and Ink Drawing

Pen and ink drawing is perhaps the cheapest medium available besides pencils. Unlike pencils, however, you must be careful not to make too many mistakes, because they ink can no longer be erased. On the other hand, this limitation makes pen and ink a good medium to practice on if you want to improve in drawing.

Another advantage of the medium is that you can draw on any surface besides drawing paper, and you can use any type of pen or marker for your drawings. What do you need to start with this medium?

Materials for Pen and Ink Drawing

To start with pen and ink drawings, you will need the following items:

  1. An assortment of drawing pens
  2. Drawing ink, pen, nib, holder, and nylon brush
  3. Ink drawing paper (either dye-based or pigment-based)
  4. Graphite pencils and eraser (for preliminary sketching)
  5. Clean rag (for blotting)
  6. Sealant spray (for protection and waterproofing)
  7. Ammonia-based window cleaner or water and detergent (for cleaning)

For drawing pens, you can pick the cheapest ballpoint and roller ball pens you can find or the most expensive dip pen, but you can also try fiber-tipped, fountain, drafting, archival ink pens, and lightfast ink pens for quality lines. Try each pen on a piece of paper to get an idea of the thickness of the lines. If you’re overwhelmed with the variety of choices, narrow them down by looking for the following qualities: fade-resistance, waterproof, fast-drying, and archival (permanent and acid-free).

You can sketch on any piece of paper, but if you want to keep your drawing for a long time, artists recommend smooth and fine surfaces for any type and watercolor paper for big washes.

Basic Pen and Ink Techniques

Learning the basic techniques for pen and ink drawing requires skills in both drawing and painting, because on the one hand, you have to learn to create volume and gradation using lines, and you also need to learn how to create tones and washes with ink and water.

Here are some of the things you need to learn:

  1. HatchingThis drawing technique uses lines that don’t cross over each other to create value.
  2. Cross ContourThis is similar to the hatching technique, but the lines near the edges follow the shape of the object.
  3. Cross HatchingThis drawing technique uses two or more lines that cross over each other to create value.
  4. StipplingThis technique uses dots instead of lines to create value. The closely packed lines will create darker areas than dots with more blank spaces in between.
  5. Random LinesThis technique uses lines that go in different directions to create value and texture.
  6. Ink WashThis refers to the use of a brush to apply ink on a drawing surface. The darkness or the lightness of the ink will depend on the ratio of water and ink, pretty much the same rules that you use with watercolors.

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