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

      2:00
    • 2. Materials Needed

      2:05
    • 3. Types of Pens

      7:43
    • 4. Types of Ink

      5:58
    • 5. Types of Line

      3:46
    • 6. Studying Ink Drawing Masters

      4:11
    • 7. Building a Marks Vocabulary

      22:50
    • 8. Drawing More Complicated Subjects

      3:06
    • 9. Developing Your Style

      2:04
    • 10. Final Thoughts

      0:55
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About This Class

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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.

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Transcripts

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 skillshare 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 at 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 do. In this class, we will look at what the tools of ink drawing are, and investigate some unusual ones too, gather and look at 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 to shapes, considering light sources and tonal values. 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. 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. 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, and 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, Clairefontaine paint on or even cartridge or sketch paper. Try to use paper that ink won't bleed and spreading to from the marks that you make, this can change depending on the ink type and the paper so always do a test of your materials before committing to the drawing. I always assume 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 had a circle template, that can also save a lot of time on drawing shapes for practice fill marks. As far as 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 too, it's not absorbent at all, so if you wanted to stay away from using something poorest like board then plastic might be the way to go. 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 brushes you would for watercolors, although don't let that hold you back from experimenting with other brushes too. For this, we'll stick with watercolor compatible brushes. First thing to mention is that 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 Fu class on Brush Care. Check it out if you want more on the topic. Brushes are really satisfying because they bridge the gap between drawing and painting. A pointed round brush can give you a wide variety of marks, from thin to thick, solid and scratchy. Dip pens, I love dip pens. 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 are more flexible than others, and with each, you'll find the pressure needed and personality revealed to be unique. Dip pens come in a couple of basic parts, but compatibilities between manufacturers differ, so you'll probably end up with a variety of nibs, handles, and purposes. A good rule of thumb when exploring dip pens is not to dunk higher than the vent hole, which is a reservoir for the ink and aids flow. Also dip pens, tend to have a direction to them. If you're used to an omnidirectional 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. 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. Although very different in personality to the metal nibs, bamboo is 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 rotating 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 buy for life nature of the ones I had used in design school. 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 pen 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 Rho Strings, Taylor, Mars, 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 all have sort of a different field. 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 pentel sign pens. I first got to know them also in design school and I still had 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 firms to be low and other manufacturers. Remember to always check the type of ink that is used though, as this will help guide you to pens that are more compatible with fine art purposes and reproduction illustration. Pigment ink is best for the long game, and dyes are more volatile. So you can generally bet that cheaper is not going to last. Fountain pens are very similar to dip pens, but have an ink cartridge or refillable reservoir. A fine fountain pen is a work of art in itself. I have a fairly expensive one that spends most of its time in a drawer. Why? I've cheaper ones that perform better when it comes to not drawing out. Convenience is important. Although nothing touches the smoothness of the nib in my expensive fountain pen, it's in a drawer. 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 rotring 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's a reason they've been around for years. Ball point pens can be cheap biro pens that come as promotions or office supplies, or they can be these more fluid gel style pens. Either way, there are dozens of types out there, and although they aren't an art pen, lots of people sketch with them anyway. I remember sitting in high school science class sketching away with my blue ball point pen, I felt pretty cool being able to manipulate this common note taking pen to the nuances of 1980s heavy metal hair. It behaves very similarly to a sketching pencil. So you can get these variances in tone. Gel pens, 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 ink with, toothpicks, sticks, bits of string, home 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 Clairefontaine 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, possibly the most widely used black drawing ink in the world. Waterproof formulations of Indian ink contains shellac and it dries with a slight chin to its surface. If you plan to use ink drawings as a base for watercolor Walsh's, 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 deep pens and brushes. This first Ink is Jackson's own brand, India ink. Daler Rowney makes an ink called Kandahar in the color of Indian black. It is a versatile formula and can be used in technical patterns and air brushes as well. That tells us that it's not a traditional formulation of Indian ink. I love Kandahar ink because it is so versatile and is also water resistant. Dr. Ph Martins also has an Indian ink and lists it as non-clogging, but take care with other inks in the same bottle range as I've found them to go clumpy and separate over time. The black Indian ink formula seems pretty stable though and dries waterproof. Higgins is a brand that's been around a long time and makes an eternal black ink in both water resistant and non-water resistant formulas. They also make other formulas of ink too, so take care when choosing. Pelikan drawing ink 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 Kuretake white ink and I can't wait to try it out. I've just let all of these inks dry and now we're going to drag some just plain water. I'm just going to use my rinse water and we're going to see which ones seem to be waterproof and which ones don't seem to be waterproof. The Jackson's, looks good. I would trust to put watercolor over that. Don't grind too hard into it though because you will just disturb the surface. But generally I think you could get away with a watercolor wash. The Daler Rowney Kandahar, you notice 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. The Dr. Ph Martin's also looking good. Higgins eternal. That moves around a little bit too much. I wonder if I got the wrong formula because I meant to get waterproof and that is definitely not waterproof. Trying the Pelikan. That's a really good, stable, really stable ink out. I'll definitely use that Pelikan as a drawing underneath watercolor. The Daler Rowney Acrylic, as you would expect, very, very waterproof. Winsor Newton calligraphy ink. Surprisingly, not moving around a lot. It does degrade a little bit into a wash. So use with caution. Quink, which is definitely just a fountain pen ink, not at all, waterproof. This is why we test things. 5. Types of Line: Earlier, we looked at lots of types of paintings. 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 at types of line. Gesture lines are informed by passion and energy, think Action, sweeping, wild and full of personality. Contour lines are 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 just as exciting as gestural, and of course, you can combine the two for interesting results and use varying line pressure to add even more depth and interest to an ink drawing. Finally, for easy comparison, I've done the same landscape three different ways. First in gestural line, second in contour, and third in experimental techniques. I absolutely encourage you to try all 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 Gogh learn 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 art related. Old books are brilliant for having ink illustrations. If you have children's books, these are a great resource for ink drawings too. I've added a few classic references for you to download and print. Check that for examples as well. After you get those things together, hit play and continue. Albrecht Durer, see the download I've 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? Let's take a closer look. Using a combination of contour line, linear hatching, crosshatching and contoured hatching, but also a variety of line thicknesses and spacing between the marks. Durer 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. Follow the contours of your subject for a more realistic effect. Don't worry if when you copy that your object doesn't look exactly like the original, you're learning and so every mark that you make, you're beginning to understand and inform yourself on how something is built. This is just a really quick sketch of my impression of it. Obviously, there are 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 Fuseli, 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. Try using the hashtag, pen and ink to find many of them. Studying the work of others is important to growing your own skills. Do what Van Gogh 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. We're just learning here, not entertaining or career in art forgery. 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 are so you can print them out and then slip them under cartridge paper as a faint template for your marks. Feel free to lightly 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. 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 too, 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 widths just to show you how you can get different marks and a very different feel 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, try to achieve an overall uniform tone. Each of these basic marks can be made with a variety of pens, inks, nib widths, 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 too. The marks made with the 1.2 have a totally different visual feel to them. We'll 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 two. Notice how organic and beautifully imperfect the brush marks are. They gave a whole different feel to the 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 combine 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. Next we'll practice graduations of tone. Start with separate square patches in each value. In my first example, I'm using a ballpoint pen, a biro, 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 with stippling, and it's basically still going to be a larger version of having the same control that you need in small spaces. I've only done half a block of each. Once you create a series of swatches in different optical tones, try creating graduations of tone in a single rectangle from dark to light. It doesn't matter what 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 source is. Of course, you always want to know where the light source is. Look where the light source is, and then find the darkest area. Find its exact opposite. You've got your highlight and you've got your shadowy area. For the sphere, I always think about having this crescent of darkness around a belly band of the sphere. You know that that's going to be your darkest place. It's actually pretty intuitive to put a little bit in that area and then work outward. 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 fir, 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. The sphere is great practice for organic textures like fir, but they can also be fun to apply to cubes and cylinders too. Everything has a texture to convey, even if it's smooth as 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. Upload your projects and show me your hard work. 8. Drawing More Complicated Subjects: Ink 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 in 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 Dürer, 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. 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 your personal style. I love these drawings by Albert Dürer. Check out his use of linear and contour hatching and crosshatching, as well as utilizing white ink to emphasize the highlights. Here are two drawings, one by Michaelangelo and the other by da Vinci, both beautifully drawn in ink but in very different ways. I'm a big fan of learning to draw in proportion with appropriate light and shadow. Then once you have that ability, go nuts and exploit the information through creativity. Picasso learned to draw realistically, then 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 sphere I drew earlier? Knowing where the shadows occur left the highlight areas to almost draw themselves. Choose some random objects around your home and create studies of light, shadow, and textures. Share your work in the projects. 9. Developing Your Style: 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. These two feathers were drawn quickly in different styles. One using heavy lines for a more graphic look, the other in a fine nib for more delicate fine art look. I used mostly contour hatching lines to define the inside of each feather but I could've 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 stop 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 mark's vocabulary now, your mental and muscle toolbox. So you can grab what you need and develop a look that is distinctly you. Ink 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 at 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 do. You've earned a break with your hands. So upload some photos of your drills, your exercises, spheres, and the other drawings that use the class techniques. I look forward to seeing your hard work. Thank you for watching and have a great day.