Ink Painting for Beginner | Sofie Dieu | Skillshare

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Ink Painting for Beginner

teacher avatar Sofie Dieu, Ink Painting Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (16m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Learn Your Tools

    • 3. Warm Up

    • 4. Composition for an impactful artwork

    • 5. Background Effect

    • 6. Silhouettes with Gao Xing Jian

    • 7. Conclusion

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About This Class

Ideal for beginners and creatives interested to learn ink painting techniques, this course will introduce you to the main principles of ink painting. You will learn the central role of water to compose a balanced artwork with great texture effects!


You will discover ‘wet on wet’ and ‘wet on dry’ techniques, and will experiment with composition, various texture rendering techniques and silhouette painting to add depth and value to your art.

This course is designed to lead you step by step through abstract ink painting processes. Each session gives you different options to explore so in the end you will create your very own, personal art work(s).

Class Outline:

Material Needed

  1. A3 watercolour paper
  2. Water and ink containers
  3. One small sable brush number 0 or 2
  4. One or two medium sable or calligraphy brushes number 3 or 4
  5. One large flat goat hair brush
  6. Indian Ink
  7. Paper towel and rag
  8. Salt and a candle

 *Dress in black or wear an apron

Class Overview: 

Learn your tools: Discover what tools I use in my work... you will be surprised how basic it is!

Warm Up with Jasper Johns: This is a gentle exercise to learn the importance of water in abstract ink painting. It will also get you ready (and excited!) for learning composition structures.

Composition for an impactful artwork: Play with one or up to four different compositions, using ink, washes and water. The options are endless... your imagination is the limit!

Background effects: Have fun with these stunning and yet easy to achieve effects, there is no right or wrong.

Silhouettes: Be inspired by my all time favourite artist: Gao Xing Jian. Learn how he creates silhouettes and invent your own in this easy step by step tutorial.In parallel, create your very own background and add these silhouettes to give life to your masterpiece.

Last words: share your project below and tag me in your social media @sofiedieu I'd love to see what you have created!

Feedback: please do reach out! I'd love to help you. Get in touch via my website

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sofie Dieu

Ink Painting Artist


Hello, I'm Sofie, a French-Australian artist. After living four years in China, I have developed a deep passion for ink painting! I love sharing my knowledge through workshops and art classes, as well as in my blog where I share lots of ink tips and info. I've been working as a full time artist since 2017. I regularly exhibit around Australia and in France.

I wish people discover how magic ink painting is, so that in turn we are more ink passionates in the world. Welcome to my page!


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1. Introduction: Hi, my name's Sophie Dieu. I'm a French artist based in Melbourne, Australia and one of my favorite medium is ink painting. I am known for my black and white art and have exhibited across Australia in group shows and solo exhibitions. My paintings have been finalists in multiple art prizes in South Australia, and New South Wales, and Victoria. I love sharing my passion with like-minded creatives and would love to see more artists using ink in their work. These abstract ink painting course is especially designed for those of you who have never used Indian ink before. I will show you my whole process from start to finish. It includes essentials to get you started, with how to plan a successful composition, layering tips, how to create different rendering effects, developing your own visual lexicon, which ink tools are the best, and so much more. This class includes also examples from the amazing ink painters who have inspired my work over the years. Step-by-step, I will lead you through the creative process of planning, making a background, and painting your very own first black and white abstract ink painting. So let's get started. 2. Learn Your Tools: To warm up, we're going to practice a wet on dry technique and a wet on the wet technique. But first, let's learn what type of tools we need for this course. We will be using water color paper. My favorite brand is the Arches. Another type of water color paper that I find very good too is the Fabriano paper, and this one comes on in 25 percent cotton and it's a lot cheaper. If you're not sure which weight you prefer, another good option is the Eraldo di Paolo paper. It gives you three different options, and this one is very thick. Now for the brushes, we will be using only natural fiber brushes because they're highly absorbent. For the water, we will use a large brush in goat hair. Alternatively, you can also use a watercolor brush. To apply the ink, we will be using these type of brushes. This is a number 4 and this is a number 3. Finally, we will be using to apply the details a much smaller, fine brush. This is a number 2, and this is a number 0. If you've never done ink painting before, start with the Atelier or the Daler Rowney. They're both very good entry point type of inks. If you prefer something retrain pigments, you can use this Speedball super black. This is an ink that I use in my work as well as the Sennelier, which is excellent brand. Now that you are all set up, let's do a warm up and learn the two most important techniques of ink painting. 3. Warm Up: For the warm up, you will need your A3 piece of paper cut into two, a little bit of ink and your number three. For inspiration we will look at the American abstract expressionist Jasper Johns and his targets that he painted in the '60s. Let's start with a circle. I hold my brush quite far from the tip, and I do the circle in one go. Don't worry if it's not perfect, this is just a warm up. This technique is called wet on dry. Wet is the state of the ink and dry is the state of the paper. Now, let's do another circle the other way around and the final touch. We're going to coat the piece of paper with water. Have a look at your piece of paper. Make sure it's shiny all over and that's it, you're ready to go. We're going to do the same thing that we did just before. Let us draw a circle anticlockwise, and let's do one clockwise and the final touch. Have you seen with the wet on the wet technique the difference? How the ink spread on the paper? It's quite magic, isn't it? This is called the capillary action. If you don't quite get that effect, it's probably because your paper is too dry, so give it another go. 4. Composition for an impactful artwork: Now that you have learned the main two techniques for impacting, let's have a look at which composition to use. A classic composition is with a horizon line right at the center. These sort of gave a lot of stability to your work. Another classic composition, which is also centered and has a lot of verticality to it, is this one. To give an ascending feel to your work, you can also work along a diagonal line. Finally, this composition, we've seen it already, that's the one we've used in our warm-up. Of course, for each composition, you can vary where you want to have your point of focus. With a circular composition, you won't change much, but you can enlarge it if you wish. Cut your A3 sheet of watercolor paper into four even pieces of paper. I have my ink and my brush ready. I also have prepared a wash with 30 percent ink and 70 percent water, and for this I'll use my smaller brush. Have your tools ready and somewhere nearby. We'll start with the diagonal composition. Place water only on one-half of your paper. Check that the surface in that half is nice and evenly shiny. With a steady hand, place some ink. Here we are combining the wet and dry technique with the wet on wet technique. Now with the mix of water and ink that you have prepared, place some of these wash onto the bottom right-hand corner of your composition. These are three ways of interpreting the diagonal composition. Of course there are many, many more, as many as you can think of. Give a try with another composition and see how you go. In the next section, I'm going to show you how to create some stunning effect for your background, so keep tuned. 5. Background Effect: The wet and right technique and the different compositions that we have learned in the previous sessions. We are going to use a technique that requires only very simple materials such as salt and a candle. We will also need water and ink. In the ink, I've added just a couple drops of water to help with the capillary action. Now that you have your tools ready, watch the video first. You will notice that from one step to another, I go very quickly. It's all about timing. So look first and then give it a go. For this exercise, we're going to cut into four, our A3 piece of paper. This time I'm going to use a different type of composition. I'm going to work two thirds wet on wet and one third wet on dry. I want to apply the ink quite generously without reaching the edge where the water and the dry paper meets. Then, I'm going to use the table salt just a little bit and sprinkle it very gently onto the surface when the ink is still wet. That's it. That's simple. To be successful with this technique, make sure your paper is not too damp with water and ink. Let your work dry flat, restrain from touching the salt, and let it dry for at least three hours or even better, half a day. For the next sample, I'm going to work with the circular composition. At the center, I'm going to leave a small circle of dry paper. Then, I apply the ink a circular fashion. Once again, I'm being quite generous. With the cooking salt, I'm going to gently sprinkle it onto the surface. Remember to leave a lot of space in between each grain of salt. Because of the size of the cooking salt, this technique would take longer than the table salt to dry. Put your piece of paper aside flat and let it dry for the whole day. Once the piece of paper would be completely dry, then, you can get rid of the salt. It would be touched very easily. Next, we're going to play with a candle. I'm going to use this side where it's a bit sharper. For this exercise, I'm going to use the vertical composition. I'm going to place my ink right at the center and let the capillary action do the rest. In the next section, we're going to be inspired by Gao Xingjian, a Chinese-born French artist. We will look at how he's using silhouettes to give life to these abstract compositions. Seen you then. 6. Silhouettes with Gao Xing Jian: In this session, we're going to look at one of my favorite artists of all times, Gao Xingjian. We learn from him how to create silhouettes to bring life to our abstract compositions. We are going to work on an A4 size piece of paper for this so that we have enough space for practicing a few different types of silhouettes. I'll be using some ink as well as a wash of ink and water, and add some brush. I'm going to work wet and dry. But I'm going to use first my wash. I'll start with the body shape. You'll notice how I'm using the flat of the brush, and then I add the head. Here, I'm going to dry my brush, absorb the excess of ink, and with the 100 percent ink, I'm going to add a little bit of depth to my silhouette. Once your by gran is dry, place your silhouettes. That's it. You now know how to create your very own abstract ink painting. Well done. 7. Conclusion: Thank you for sticking all the way through this course. You can upload your outward below and leave a comment. In this course, you've learned wet on dry and the wet on the white techniques. You experimented with different types of compositions and discovered some really cool and fun techniques to create striking backgrounds inspired by Gaussian Gen, you also learned how to create silhouette to give life to your abstract compositions. Remember though, that sometimes something as humble as a single brushstroke can be the start of an incredible painting. This is something I learned from Fabienne Verdier the French ink painter. You don't need special tools to start with. Just use a small brush and some ink. Because this is truly all you need to create, a unique painting. That's it for now. I hope you enjoyed this course. If you did, please shut the work that you've done onto the profile of footnotes and you can tag me as well in your social media @sofiedieu, if you wish to pursue your in-painting journey, have a look at some of the classes that I offer on my website www.learn paints Until then, happy painting.