When you think of drawing, sketching with a pencil may be the first thing that comes to mind. But pencil isn’t the only way you can draw: Ink is another medium that’s easy to get started with. And once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can experiment with more intricate drawing techniques to create detailed, colorful, and even surprisingly realistic art.
Here’s how to get started with ink drawing, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced pen and ink drawing ideas to inspire your first project.
Tools for Drawing With Inks
Ink pens come in many varieties, from the everyday to the more artistic:
- Ballpoint pens
- Fountain pens and liquid ink in jars
- Felt-tip pens
- Alcohol markers
- Water-based markers
- Metallic ink pens
Ink and Brush
If you want to create more flowing images, several types of ink can be used similarly to paint, with a brush and water or other solvent, like alcohol.
- Sumie ink and bamboo brushes
- India ink
- Alcohol ink
- Liquid metallic ink
Ink drawing lends itself well to multimedia art, because the ink is usually bold enough to stand out against a background. Experiment with mixing your ink drawing with watercolors, acrylic paints, collage, gel pens, or chalk pastels.
If you’re familiar with digital drawing tools, you can also create ink drawing effects using Procreate, Photoshop, Illustrator, and other programs.
Meditate With Your Pen
Abstract Drawing Adventure: A Creative Exploration For Mind and Soul
Ink Drawing Ideas
Try one of these pen and ink drawing ideas, from beginner level to more advanced.
Ink Drawing Ideas: Easy
1. Detailed Doodle
This meditative design might look complex, but it’s really a matter of letting your imagination run free and doodling with an ink pen.
2. Ink Monster
Ink drop monsters are a fun way of playing with ink and creating characters. Using an old-fashioned bottle of ink and a dropper, create some random patterns on a page and see what creatures emerge from the mess.
3. Simple Line Portrait
Simple line drawings can be very effective when you add careful and sparing details. Try drawing a portrait or caricature of someone you know with just some simple lines.
4. Black and White Illustration
Not all ink is black, but you can create simple and striking illustrations by painting with black ink on white paper.
5. Highlighter Art
You don’t need any special equipment for ink drawing. Most of us have a few highlighters stashed in our desks, which can be used to draw beautiful and bold designs. Drawing with ink pens doesn’t get much more colorful than this!
6. Sumie Ink Bamboo
Sumie ink is a Japanese ink used in many East and Southeast Asian artistic traditions. Drawing with ink and brush is a classic art form, and this classic bamboo is easy to paint.
Ink Drawing Ideas: Intermediate
Calligraphy is a traditional form of decorative lettering, often done with a fountain pen. Sentences or poems in calligraphy are a work of art in their own right, or you can add calligraphic lettering to illustrations.
8. Blended Water-Based Art
Ink drawing isn’t just about stark black-and-white contrast. Water-based markers are a type of ink pen that can be blended to look like watercolor paints.
9. Daily Journal
Journaling is a good activity for self-care. If you tend to be more inspired by images than by words, try keeping a visual journal of your daily activities or goals. The above example uses ink drawing combined with watercolor paints.
10. Abstract Alcohol Art
Doodling with alcohol inks and gel pens is straightforward and creates striking effects, but you might need to purchase some extra supplies.
Ink Drawing Ideas: Advanced
11. Hand Lettered Poster
Combine ink drawing or lettering with your other favorite media, such as watercolor paints, as shown in this poster. The possibilities of drawing with ink and brush expand when you bring in other media.
12. Ink Landscape
If you want to make an ink drawing that looks like a painting, try using both water-based and alcohol-based markers, like in this landscape scene.
Once you’ve learned some advanced ink drawing techniques, try a portrait or self-portrait with shading and details.
14. Spooky Scene
Combine careful attention to detail and fine pen control to make a rich, beautiful ink drawing.
15. Digital Ink Illustration
You’ll need specific software to tackle digital drawing—but if you have it and know how to use it, you can easily make illustrations that look like real ink drawings.
16. Digital Hand Lettering
You can also turn ink drawings and lettering—such as this calligraphy—into a digital format using design software.
Get Started Drawing With Ink
Whether you like the graphic black-and-white contrast of simple pen-and-ink drawings or want to experiment with a variety of colors and media, you can find an ink drawing project to suit your style. Use what you already have in your art kit, or invest in some new materials—either way, we can’t wait to see what you create!
Expand Your Ink Drawing Skills
Ink Drawing Techniques: Brush, Nib, and Pen Style