Mixed Media Tutorial: Pen & Ink

 Ink is my favorite medium. I absolutely love ink. I love water colors too. And I love them both for the same reasons. They can be thick and pigmented and rich, or thin, transparent, and barely opaque. They are very powerful and understated mediums. Since my greatest talent is using inks and watercolors, and I'm doing more of this work soon, I thought I would give a run down of how I make Pen & Ink drawings.

(Pictured at the top) Speedball India Ink. This ink is wonderful. When wet, it moves around easily on the paper, when dry it's waterproof. I love this ink, and it's not terribly expensive, even for a large bottle.
Secondly, the ink pen and other tool. The Ink pen is a standard drawing pen. I abuse my pens pretty heavily with some techniques that would make other artists cringe. But sometimes, it's necessary to be rough with the materials to make them do things that they aren't supposed to. The other tool is a wooden stick with metal sticks coming out of it. I use this tool for many techniques in the Pen & Ink process.
I also used watercolors, watercolor pencils, acrylic paints, and ink pigments.


First, I choose a subject matter. This time it's a seahorse. Even getting to this point may be tricky for some people, but keep in mind that I've been practicing this medium for 4 years nonstop, day in and out. I find it's helpful to experiment with line thickness and to learn how your tools work and what they're capable of. Even a not-so-good drawing can look really awesome in Pen & Ink.

Then, I started coloring in certain spaces with watercolor pencils. For this part it's just instinct to where the lines and color should flow. The pressure that is applied to the pencils changes the brightness of the color. I prefer to keep things trather transparent. At this stage, I also began adding some water and pulling out the wet  black inks and pulling the colors in the directions I wanted. (far right) 

If this was one of my artworks that I was creating for a personal or commercial purpose, I would begin taking this artwork in a different direction. But I don't want to give away all of my secrets! So, I decided to just have fun with this work and make it more on the educational side.
As you can see, I've added more color with the pencils. I also added more color with some other inks and color paints I had around my studio. I put down all the medium dry and use water to push it around.

Since the left side of the composition was rather empty I thought I would add my typical cherry blossom flowers which I've used in numerous drawings before this one. I used water to pull out the black ink and make more movement.

Then, I got some sudden inspiration for a background. In Arizona, I often rode the bus to school, from me and Daniel's apartment. Every morning, I would pass over the bridge the was over Tempe Town Lake. I would play this song I loved on my Ipod and enjoy seeing the sun rise over the giant man-made lake. It brought me a lot of happiness to feel that every morning. So, I added in a sun, the body of water, the bridge, the road, and started writing in the lyrics from the song that made the moment so beautiful.

This is the final stage of this artwork. I finished writing in the lyrics, and dove in with some acrylic paints. I added the bright warm colors around the edge, using a technique I developed a couple years ago. The flowers were my favorite part. I love the shade of blue. It's so pretty. 

The end product isn't something I'm putting in my portfolio or anything. But I'm still very happy with how it turned out. 

Looking back, I tended to say a lot of, "a technique that I made", "something that only I know", and I realize that I'm rather secretive in my presentation of this tutorial. But I don't want to influence what any one else is making too much. And I like having special secret techniques that I made and learned. It's kind of exciting to think about them that way. 

Does anybody else work with Pen & Ink a lot? What kinds of things do you make? 


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