Ink Drawing Boot Camp: Build Killer Skills | Jen Dixon | Skillshare

Ink Drawing Boot Camp: Build Killer Skills

Jen Dixon, Abstract and figurative artist, tutor.

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10 Lessons (55m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials Needed

    • 3. Types of Pens

    • 4. Types of Ink

    • 5. Types of Line

    • 6. Studying Ink Drawing Masters

    • 7. Building a Marks Vocabulary

    • 8. Drawing More Complicated Subjects

    • 9. Developing Your Style

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class


Welcome to another Jen Dixon Boot Camp class! This time, we're going to build up some killer skills with pen and ink drawing.

My very first class on Skillshare was a short one on Ink Hatching, and ever since publishing it I have wanted to do a more in-depth class on ink...
Here it is, and it will take beginners to new levels, and sharpen skills and discipline for experienced ink artists too.
My Boot Camp classes are about learning your tools and practicing techniques, and then practicing some more. There is no shortcut for hard work, and you might even leave your desk with a hand cramp. It'll be worth it though, as you're going to leap over creative ruts, learn new techniques, and build some killer skills.

Ready to do some serious practice and learn new stuff? Great.
To get started with this class, you'll need a pen and paper. If you want to practice with more specific tools, I recommend the following:

  • Bristol board or other smooth art paper
  • A range of fineliners, pigment liner pens, or other artist pens (dip pens are great too)
  • Watercolour brushes
  • Inks - waterproof or non-waterproof
  • Paper towels
  • Rinse water
  • A pencil and eraser

Ink drawing is bold, creative, and a heck of a lot of fun. Whether you're a doodler of patterns or a sketcher of portraits, this class is for you.

Let's get started.



1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Jen Dixon. Welcome to ink drawing boot camp. Build killer skills. I've been wanting to make this class for a long time. My first skill share class was a short but popular introduction to in catching. It was very much a beginner's class, but ever since releasing it, I've wanted to do an in depth class for students, craving more about making ink marks and how to use them. Here it is, and it's for all levels of ink artists looking to practice and build their skills. Being a boot camp, you can count on me working you hard from studying the tools of the trade to the work of inspirational masters and finding your own style. And, of course, there'll be lots and lots of drills exercises. As I always say, I'm here to help you draw and paint everything better by building your skills not simply for one project but for everything you dio in this class. We will look at what the tools of ink drawing are and investigate some unusual ones, too. Gather and look a illustrators from the bookshelf for style and technique inspiration learn new marks to confidently build a visual vocabulary you can rely on work on applying marks, two shapes considering light sources and tonal values, and I'll offer a little advice for developing your personal style. I'll be showing you a huge number of examples in this class, and the practice drills will take time. So pause whenever you need time to create your projects, I'll still be here, ready to resume when you are, The more you put into your practice, the more you'll get out of it. So I suggest you make a tasty beverage, stretch your fingers and let's get started. 2. Materials Needed: you may already have a collection of pens on. Whatever you've got is perfect. You'll see me working with a variety of pens and inks, and then by the end of the class, you may have a small shopping list based on what you see, but use what you have and then later add what you want. I'll use a variety of papers in this class. Mostly, I try to use a smooth surface, sturdy paper like Bristol Board, Claire Fontaine, paint on or even cartridge or sketch paper. Try to use paper that ink won't bleed and spread into from the marks that you make. This can change depending on the ink type in the paper, so always do a test of your materials before committing to the drawing. I always assumed I will sacrifice at least one sheet of paper to testing for very basic practice. You can even use printer paper, though you'll want to also practice on art papers to get a feel for it. Believe me, it's night and day when you try the right paper for the task, I'll also use a few things that I have on hand, like a pencil eraser masking tape and ruler. If you have a circle template that can also save a lot of time on drawing shapes for practice film marks. As faras inks go, I'll talk about and demonstrate several brands. I find a drawing board very helpful and is typically better than your table surface. You'll also want to put a piece of paper down underneath the work that you do. Because ink is messy business. I also like to use plastic like this acrylic perspex as a drawing surface to its no absorb int it. Also, if you wanted to stay away from using something porous like board, then plastic might be the way to go. And, of course, don't forget paper towels and jars of clean water. 3. Types of Pens: There are several types of traditional tools for ink drawing. Everyone ends up with a favorite, but it's good to have a few types of tools on hand for different effects, starting with brushes you can use. The same brush is you would for water colors, although don't let that hold you back from experimenting with other brushes, too, for this will stick with watercolor compatible brushes. First thing to mention is the ink can be stickier in bristles than watercolor. So whatever you use and I'm using Indian ink for this demonstration chapter, wash your brushes thoroughly with a brush cleaner or gentle soap. After use. I go more in depth about brush care in my studio food class on brush care, so check it out if you want more on the topic. Brushes air really satisfying because they bridge the gap between drawing and painting. Appointed round brush can give you a wide variety of marks from thin to thick, solid and scratchy depends I love depends, and using them is almost an exercise in mindfulness. You will need to work with them as a collaboration and expect them to be a little unexpected. Some Nibs air more flexible than others. And with each, you'll find the pressure needed and personality revealed to be unique. Depends come in a couple of basic parts, but compatibility is between. Manufacturers differ, so you'll probably end up with a variety of Nibs, handles and purposes. A good rule of thumb when exploring depends is not to dunk higher than the vent hole, which is a reservoir for the ink and AIDS flow. Also depends tend to have a direction to them. So if you're used to an omni directional capability, like with technical pens or felt pens, you are in for a little bit of a learning curve. Give them a chance, though, as their organic mark making can be really rewarding. And if you like the idea of dipping into your ink, you might also want to try carving your own bamboo pens. I have a class on that, too, and although very different in personality to the metal Nibs bamboo, it's such a joy to use and even more if you've carved the pen yourself. Technical pens come in disposable and refillable more traditional styles. I was first introduced to technical pens back in 1990 when I was in art school for industrial design at the time. Before learning to use them, I thought them infuriating and messy. I think I had a rotering set back then, and as soon as I could get away from using their tiny, unforgiving metal Nibs, the better. Well, fast forward to a few years ago, and I was actively seeking them as an alternative to the plastic disposable pens I've been using for years. I was drawn to the refillable by for life nature of the ones I'd used in design school, and now I use both. I wish I could find a pen that feels great, marks well and is infinitely refillable. But I haven't come across one pin to rule them all yet do let me know if you have one, though, as it would be great for the planet. I digress. Technical pens in a traditional sense by rotering state, Lamar's or other companies are typically complicated Nibs with inner wires to aid the ink flow and a refillable cartridge. They're a bit delicate in the smaller sizes, but remember they weren't designed for free spirited artist hands. They were designed for designers making highly technical drawings for manufacturing purposes that artists adopted them is great, but they are a little fiddly and also require a more vertical hand position. They aren't for everyone, but great to try. If you can grab a secondhand set off of eBay because they aren't cheap, technical pens in the modern disposable sense are similar to really precise felt tips. Rather than having a metal nib with a needle in it. There are several brands that dominate the market, and they will have sort of a different feel. So my advice is to buy a 0.5 or so of a few brands and see how they perform felt tip pens. I love the old pen. Tell sign pens. I first got to know them also in design school, and I still have a handful of them around at any given time. They also now come in a flexible tip, which is great for modern calligraphy and expressive drawing. There's also the fine liners out there from's to be low and other manufacturers remember to always check the type of ink that is used, though, as this will help guide you depends that are more compatible with fine art purposes and reproduction. illustration. Pigment ink is best for the long game and dies or more volatile, so you congenitally bet that cheaper is not going to last. Fountain pens are very similar to depends, but haven't ink cartridge or refillable reservoir. Ah, fine Fountain pen is a work of art in itself, and I have a fairly expensive one that spends most of its time in a drawer. Why I have cheaper ones that perform better when it comes to not drying out. Convenience is important, and although nothing touches the smoothness of the nib in my expensive fountain pen, it's in a drawer, and I use cheaper ones because they never seem to dry out. So keep that in mind when buying a fountain pen. Is it to write beautiful letters or to travel around in a sketch kit, ready at a moments notice for action? Also, consider the Rotering art pen for a purpose built art fountain pen. They've been around for years, and the only thing that I find a little annoying with them is you can't put the cap on the back of them. But beyond that, there is a reason they've been around for years. Ballpoint pens can be cheap by row pens that comes promotions or office supplies. Or they can be these more fluid gel style pens. Either way, there are dozens of types out there on, although they aren't in art pen, lots of people sketch with them anyway. I remember sitting in high school science class sketching away with my blue ballpoint pen. I felt pretty cool being able to manipulate this common note, taking pen to the nuances of 19 eighties heavy metal hair, and it behaves very similarly to a sketching pencil so you can get these variances in tone . Joe opens Not so much, but it all boils down to use what you have and push that tool to its limits. Unconventional tools can be whatever you pick up and apply Inc with two picks, sticks, bits of string hung made brushes. You are unlimited in what you try, so give yourself some time to experiment. You never know what you might have around the house that will give you exactly the texture you're looking for 4. Types of Ink: There are far too many types of inks in the world to cover here, but I will tell you about some of the ones that I have and some popular brands and formulations. Here's a demonstration of several inks on a smooth sheet of Claire Fontaine paint. On paper, we're going to go from a solid strength and water it down into a gray Indian ink. Also called India Ink is possibly the most widely used black drawing Inc in the world. Waterproof formulations of Indian ink contained shellac, and it dries with a slight sheen to its surface. If you plan to use ink drawings as a base for water color washes, you must test your ink first. For the degree of water resistance. This goes for ink pens or bottles of ink. Indian ink is not suitable for fountain pens as a general rule, as it will clog use with dip pens and brushes. This first Inc is Jackson's own brand. India ink Dale around. He makes an ink called Kandahar in the color of Indian black. It is a versatile formula and could be used in technical pens and airbrush is as well. So that tells us that it's not a traditional formulation of Indian ink. I love Kandahar Inc. Because it is so versatile and is also water resistant. Dr. Ph Martin's also has an Indian ink and lists it as known clogging but take care with other inks in the same bottle range as I found them to go clumpy and separate over time. The black Indian ink formula seems pretty stable, though, and drives waterproof. Higgins is a brand that's been around a long time and makes an internal black ink in both water resistant and non water resistant formulas. They also make other formulas of ink, too. So take care when choosing. Pelican Drawing Inc is up next and is the newest to my collection. I bought it as a waterproof, but I haven't tested it until now. Acrylic inks are available from several companies, and I use them often in my mixed media work. They're versatile and come in great colors. Finally, inks that are more home on a writing desk, calligraphy, ink and fountain pen ink. These will not typically be waterproof, so use caution if illustrating in mixed media also useful a good white ink for creating highlights or corrections I use a lot of white acrylic ink for this and also white signal gel pens. But I've just bought this current taki white ink and I can't wait to try it out. So I just let all of these inks dry. And now we're going to Dragsholm Just plain water. I'm just gonna use my rinse water on. We're going to see which ones seem to be waterproof and which ones don't seem to be waterproof. So the Jacksons looks good. So I would trust to ah, put watercolor over that. Don't grind too hard into it, that because you will just sort of disturbed the surface. But generally I think you could get away with watercolor wash. So the daily Roni Kandahar, you noticed it doesn't actually make a very good graduated wash in itself because it dries really quickly. But it does seem to be fairly water resistant as well. Now the Doctor pH Martin's also looking good, Higgins eternal. That moves around a little bit too much. I wonder if I got the Rome formula because I meant to get waterproof. And that is definitely not waterproof. Trying the pelican. That's a really good stable, really Stable Inc. I would definitely use that pelican as a drawing underneath watercolor daler, Rowny acrylic. As you would expect. Very, very waterproof Windsor and Newton calligraphy ink. Surprisingly not moving around a lot. It does degrade a little bit into a wash. So use with caution and quick, which is definitely just a fountain pen ink. Not at all waterproof. This is why we just things. 5. Types of Line: earlier, we looked at lots of types of pens. I'm going to pick just a few to work with from now on, as well as a couple of inks. First, before we apply patterns onto surfaces, let's look a types of line gesture lines are informed by passion and energy. Think action sweeping wild and full of personality. Contour lines air typically a little more careful and considered but needn't be boring at all. Continuous line drawing blind contours and topographical lines are all great examples of contour lines. Many people instinctively draw with contour lines as they are easier to control. But once you find your personal style, contour lines can be Justus. Exciting is gestural, and of course, you can combine the two for interesting results and use varying lying pressure toe. Add even more depth and interest to an ink drawing. - And finally, for easy comparison, I've done the same landscape three different ways. First in gestural line, second in Contour, UN third in experimental techniques. I absolutely encourage you to try old three different types of line making and see what resonates with you. - Experimental lines are also important, and you should try moving your hand in strange ways use unusual tools, splatter scribbles and your non dominant hand for even more excitement. Experimental ink drawing is a big enough topic for its own class, so we'll just plant the idea here and move on. 6. Studying Ink Drawing Masters: Do you know how Vincent Van Gough learned to draw? He obsessively copied the drawings from anatomy books and Japanese prints. Copying is part of learning for this section. I want you to pause the video and search your bookshelves for ink drawings and illustrations, even in books that aren't aren't related. Old books are brilliant for having ink illustrations. If you have Children's books, these air a great resource for ink drawings, too. I've added a few classic references for you to download and print, So check that for examples as well. After you get those things together, hit, play and continue. Albert Duerer. See the download have provided created incredible drawings that use line to communicate complicated visuals. Fabric flows, muscles, ripple, shadow and light create nearly three dimensional quality. How does he do that? Well, let's take a closer look. Using a combination of contour line, linear hatching, cross hatching and contoured hatching but also a variety of line thicknesses and spacing. Between the marks, Dura has managed to draw convincing pillows full of softness, shadow and light. He changed direction with the line when he needed to create dimension rather than applying flat areas of ink marks to what is a fluffy three dimensional object. So follow the contours of your subject for a more realistic effect. And don't worry if when you copy that your object doesn't look exactly like the original your learning. And so every mark that you make, you are beginning to understand and inform yourself on how something is built. So this is just a really quick sketch of my impression of it. Obviously, they're areas that I'm missing that I didn't even put in. That's fine. This is my first attempt at it. I can always do it again. Henry facility creates a beautiful scene with a combination of contour lines to define his subject and the leaves outside of her window but also fairly simple directional hatching. Linear hatching is used in the shadows of her dress, and the highlights are just left empty. Just a couple of areas of dark, intense lines creates a sense of depth in an otherwise not obviously dimensional drawing. When looking at more modern artists for inspiration, I personally love the drawings of Edward Gorey of Shel Silverstein, Maurice Sendak and, of course, the explosive work of Ralph Steadman. There are also lots of wonderful current artists showing work on Pinterest and instagram. So try using the hashtag pen and ink to find many of them. Studying the work of others is important to growing your own skills. So do what Van Gough did and copy obsessively. You'll build muscle memory and techniques, and along the way you'll create the foundations of your own style, even if it doesn't feel like it just yet. Just make sure that if you make a copy of the work of others that you never claim it as your own. Always give credit and never sell. Your copies were just learning here, not entertaining a career in art forgery, so best practice would be to keep your copies private to avoid trouble. 7. Building a Marks Vocabulary: in the section on studying ink drawing masters. You heard me mention contour line, linear hatching, cross hatching and contoured hatching. These are just a few of the marks were practicing in this chapter. The PdF download has two pages of basic shapes, drawn with very heavy lines, these air so you can print them out and then slip them under cartridge paper as a faint template for your marks. Feel free Golightly. Draw them in if you'd like. The exercises are useful for trying lots of different combinations of ink, paper and marks, so I recommend you practice as much as possible in as many combinations as you can think up . Let's get the basics done now use the squares or rectangles to practice flat surface marks . So let's start with types of linear hatching so long hatching, short, hatching, uneven hatching. And remember that these marks can and should be practiced at different angles to and patches of woven hatching. This creates more of a pattern and is great practice for basket weave and tangled textures . They can be a little tricky to create at first, but keep practicing curved lines and contours. Although the word contour was used earlier to define the outline of an object. It's also the word used for curved lines that follow the surface of a dimensional object. Try curved, hatching, flowing contours and waves. Scribbles and stippling practice even spacing in lines and dots. It's not easy at first, because we instinctively want to follow where we've already made a mark. In my examples, I'm using a couple of different pen nib withs just to show you how you can get different marks and a very different field, depending on the tool you choose. Cross hatching. Try to keep marks evenly spaced for this example. Practice hatching at various angles, even with random, uneven hatching, tried to achieve an overall uniform tone. Each of these basic marks can be made with a variety of pens, inks, niblets and white space between the marks. Whenever you want to draw, but you're unsure what to create. Practice your marks. I practice these regularly to the marks made with the one point to have a totally different visual field to them. Well, look at an example of this with a drawing soon. Here's a brief example of using a brush for the same drills. The rectangles were done at another time with a size one brush. Now I'm using a synthetic size, too. Notice how organic and beautifully imperfecta brush marks are. They give a whole different feel to a drawing. - Once you've practiced your basics, it's time to get more creative with your marks. So try varying the pressure to make pulsed lines of fat and thin marks. Scratchy, uneven coverage. Change up the lengths of marks in the same patch. Be imaginative. Even with a brush. Try to practice uniform coverage that conveys a single tone for each of your squares. In my last square, I wanted to practice thin and thick lines, so I combined them into one. In this section, I'm demonstrating, using writing ink with a dip pen on cheap cartridge paper. The ink bleeds a bit, but it's still good practice. My favorite part is creating the pulse lines of varying pressure. - In the last square of the top row, I started experimenting with tonal changes by varying the white space between lines. The second row continued my practice of changing spacing to imply light and dark areas. It's natural at this point to start thinking about how to create more specific textures. Layering marks can create the illusion of tonal variety, so next will practice graduations of tone. Start with separate square patches in each value and my first example. I'm using a ballpoint pen, a buyer. Oh, to show that actually, it's still a pretty good tool to draw with. It's not my first choice, but it is still effective if that's what you have on hand. - I know it seems like I cheated a little bit on this stippling, but you get the idea you can fill. An entire page was stippling, and it's basically still going to be a larger version of having the same control that you need in small spaces. So I've only done half a block of each. Once you create a Siris of swatches in different optical tones, try creating graduations of tone in a single rectangle from dark to light. It doesn't matter what kind of marks you use or the pen that you use at this point. Just try to get a smooth transition from dark to light to help see the tonal values squint your eyes. It makes it much easier to see areas that need adjustment. The size of nib that you use can change the result tremendously, as you can see in these spheres created with different pens, here's how to create the tonal sphere in a variety of marks. The first thing I always tell people when I teach them how to do the tonal sphere is to look at where the light sources. Of course, you always want to know where the light sources, so look where the light sources and then find the darkest area, so find it's it's exact opposite. So you've got your highlight and you've got your shadowy area. So for this sphere, I always think about having this crescent of darkness around sort of a belly band of the sphere, so you know that that's going to be your darkest place. So it's actually pretty intuitive to put a little bit in that area and then work outward and you can build and build as you go from the tonal sphere. We can think about more complicated three dimensional objects like cubes and cylinders. At this level, you should begin experimenting with applying more specific textures like for bark, stone and more. The key with dimensional objects is to get to know your light source so that you can apply light and shadow to the correct areas. This fear is great practice for organic textures like for, but they can also be fun to apply to cubes and cylinders to everything has a texture to convey, even if its smoothest stainless steel use the practice shapes to get to know how to convey them on easy to control shapes. After that, knowing how to tackle a full drawing will be lots easier because you'll have the technique and logic on your side. I look forward to seeing your marks vocabulary, so upload your project and show me your hard work. 8. Drawing More Complicated Subjects: it. Drawing is about light and shadow and the illusion of mid tones. When you want to create a dimensional object in pen and ink, focus on the light, medium and dark values, then the best technique to transition from light to dark. We've already looked a little at drawing spheres and ink, but let's break it down to more complicated shapes and how to apply our marks vocabulary to them. Fabric is a great subject, and we have had a look at the pillow example from Duerr earlier in the class. Let's break down some of the marks with more logic. You can just about draw the pillow from the shadows outward without first creating the contour outline. If I observe the deepest areas of shadow and then radiate to the next area of shadow or mid tone, the form begins to solidify. Even without a defining edge, I could even go so far as to block in the background with solid ink. Instead of drawing the contour outline at all, the master artists from hundreds of years ago were obsessed with the illusion of creating three dimensions on paper, and once you can successfully create a drawing that makes sense with light and shadow. You can simplify or tweak it until you begin to find to your personal style. I love these drawings. By Albert Door. Check out his use of linear and contour, hatching and cross hatching as well is utilizing white ink to emphasize the highlights. And here are two drawings, one by Michelangelo and the other by Divinci, both beautifully drawn in ink but in very different ways. I'm a big fan of learning to drone proportion with appropriate light and shadow. Then, once you have that ability, go nuts and exploit the information through creativity. Because I learned to draw realistically than famously taught himself to be a child again with his art, wherever you want to go on your journey. If you get the basics of light, medium and dark tonal values down, then I honestly believe you can draw just about anything. Where is your light source? Find it and go from there. This also goes for texture. Of course, even a grain of sand has a surface affected by light and shadow. Remember the furry spero drew earlier. Knowing where the shadows occur left the highlight areas toe almost draw themselves to some random objects around your home and create studies of light, shadow and textures. Share your work in the projects. 9. Developing Your Style: And what if you don't want to draw realistically, that's fine, too. You can be what you want, a fine artist, an illustrator or perhaps both. Or neither. Thes two feathers were drawn quickly and different styles. One using heavy lines for a more graphic look, the other in a fine nib for a more delicate, fine art look. I used mostly contour hatching lines to define the inside of each feather, but I could have used stippling or any number of other marks. Instead, the only one who limits you is you. So try lots of different ways of drawing and never stopped experimenting or the practice drills. Throughout this boot camp, you've practiced marks with a certain amount of precision over passion. You did the hard work, and now is the time to loosen up a little and begin to do what feels right for you. The foundational skills you need are in your marks vocabulary now your mental and muscle toolbox so you can grab what you need and develop a look that is distinctly You Inc is a confident medium, so try to hold on to that strength when growing and developing your personal style. Remember that style is an ever evolving thing. If you look back through your own sketchbooks, you'll see growth and change. Also look a early illustrations and animations of Snoopy, your Mickey Mouse and see how time and evolution can affect style. Let it happen. And remember, the sooner you stop comparing your work to the work of others, the sooner you will accept what you create is authentic, and that's how you develop your personal style. 10. Final Thoughts: thank you for joining me for ink drawing boot camp Build killer Skills We've covered an enormous amount of material from types of pen and inks to studying masters of ink, drawing to building our skills through focused practice drills. The marks exercises are always beneficial, just like practicing scales for a musical instrument. Practice your drills to stay sharp at what you dio. You've earned a break with your hands, so upload some photos of your drills, your exercises, spheres and other drawings that use the class techniques. I look forward to seeing your hard work. Thank you for watching and have a great day.