Inktober starts today, and the excitement is growing. Few pieces thump my drums quite like ink and wash. If you like the look of ink and watercolor sketching, too; try these three “edge” tips to add a little oom-pa-pa to your watercolor washes with technical pens. Once the lining is completed, add additional ink shading or go straight to watercolor — the choice is up to you.
I’ll be tracing off from Wendy Tait’s Watercolour Flowers in the pictures below, a great resource for those just starting out. While sketching with technical pens uses them in a different way than the manufacturer intended, I haven’t had any difficulty with pens skipping or wearing down before they run out of ink.
Tip #1: Underdraw with a pencil…or don’t!
Use an underdrawing to provide anything from placement dots to a rough lay-in to a traced-off image depending on your aesthetic. Or go right in with pen. Or ink after you watercolor. Don’t be ashamed for using or omitting an underdrawing – technique is unique to each artist.
Tip #2 Line your shapes with variety.
Draw the contour (arabesque, outline) of the outside and interior shapes with different line quality to introduce the light.
1. Use broken lines for areas hit by your light source or far away.
2. Use thin solid lines with just a few breaks in areas of the shape that have local color.
3. Use thicker solid lines for area in shadow or shapes closer to the viewer.
Tip #3 Suggest texture & details in ink.
Suggest, don’t SHOUT! Sketches use a short hand form of drawing to render detail and texture.
• Use the outline to hint at the surface texture of your subject. Only use perfectly smooth lines if the surface is perfectly smooth. A fur bauble for a handbag, a golf ball, and a glass marble should have different line qualities.
• Draw a few hints of the surface texture inside shapes only along the line where the lit side of the shape goes into shade, not all over. As you get better at seeing, the shadow shape will become as important to you as the subject’s shape and this will make more sense.
• Try putting ink details only at the focal point. Use watercolor for less important details, or omit them completely.
Ink and wash allows me to work dramatically faster than watercolor or ink alone so I can paint every day. These three tips are simple to remember and easy for me to implement to create my vision when working with technical pens.
Do you ink your watercolor sketches with technical pens? Have any more important tips you’d like to add to these? Talk with me in the comments, and visit me on Instagram to view dozens of ink and wash pieces.Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in
I’m a science and math educator who has been creating since childhood. I picked up watercolor four years ago and have been on a grand exploration discovering its playful and enigmatic personality. Follow my adventure on Instagram!