WetCanvas! Home
Home Member Services Content Areas Tools Info Center WC Partners Shop Help
Search for:

[ Home: Pen & Ink: Basics In Ink Drawings ]
"Basics In Ink Drawings"
Page 1 of 2

Author: Crissy_Gottberg, Contributing Editor

This article will present a very basic over-view of drawing with ink. The thoughts I share are those that I have learned from books and watching others.


The very basics are, of course, a pen and a piece of paper. There are a plethora of choices in each, however, and it can be a bit confusing to choose which you would like to use.

Paper In choosing paper,there is everything from regular printer paper to Stonehedge which has been toted as the best paper to do nearly anything on. There is also art board, which is a bit thicker and sturdier, and differing degrees of transparent pages which allow for interesting affects with the pen.

For practice I recommend regular drawing paper. For learning techniques you might like to just use scratch paper, or news print. For finished works I would suggest Stonehedge or pressed watercolor paper.

Ink Application Tools:

Gel pens: These are fairly new and a lot of you may have tried one, but not everyone knows how versatile they are. They come in a wide range of colors from gold and silver to black and white. Some have pearly sheens to them, others florescent and still others the “normal” shades of the rainbow.

Gels are marked by a good flow of ink with fewer “lags” and the ability to write over any colored paper, including black with no problem. Some have even commented that they become brighter when dry. I do not know if these are waterproof or light fast.

Ball point: In my opinion, ball point pens have bad flow of ink. The ink is sporadic, stops at times, and can cause problems with a drawing. They do come in a number of colors such as black, blue, red, green and purple. They are not waterproof but I think they are light fast.

India inks: India inks come in little jars and you use a stylus and a nib for it. This can be messy if you’re not careful. There are a few nib/stylus pens that give you a reservoir to fill; thus making it a bit easier. There are interesting techniques you can do with nibs that are impossible with any roller pen. These also come in a few extra colors, and do dry permanent.

Sumi-e pens: Traditional Japanese ink art is called Sumi-e.These are the ones that are most familar to ink drawing. They are watercolor like paintings with calligraphy and ink drawings over lacing them. There are special inks and nips for it, as well as a special paint for the backgrounds. All natural, and tonal. I think its permanent and color fast.

Spirit markers: Sprit markers are noted for their fluid and transparent color they give to any surface. It is a good way to add color to your ink drawing. They darken when applied over a second or third time adding depth to ones drawing.

Color Pencils: What better way to add color to a picture than with color pencils. They have techniques of their own and are fun to explore.


Line: Exactly what its called. A bunch of lines forming a picture. Line drawings can get very complex, or be rather simple depending on how much detail you add to your drawing.
A bit more difficult in ink then it is in pencil because you have no shading at all, so every line and tone must be conveyed through your lines. The box, of course is the most simple, and the dragon the most detailed. Though no true shading was given to any of these line drawings we can see depth in them.
Stipple: I must admit that I do not like this technique. Probably because I did not like what I did, but I don’t like it just the same.

It is very simple in a way. You start with a blank page, and a photo you want to copy, and start making dots. You do thicker dots in areas with lots of shadow, and fewer dots in areas with lighter shadow, and, of course, leave the paper white in areas with no shadows. It can get noisy, especially if a lot of people are doing it at once. It does take more time then other techniques, but can be worth it.
Example1 Example2 Example3
Splatter: You need a nib for this technique. There is no other way, that I know of, to do this. You take an ink filled nib, and literally splatter the ink on the page.

I have seen this in japanime quite a bit. They use it to give an odd effect to the page, add subtle qualities. Combined with color this can give it even more of an edge. I have seen one that had the splatter technique where the little dots of ink had been hallowed and it gave it an unusual quality.

This technique is also used to create things like water spray, blood, and other such “spray” type affects.