Monochromatic illustrations | Lena Nicolajsen | Skillshare

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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 (25m)
    • 1. The project - one colour, one illustration

    • 2. A bit about brushes - finding the one for you

    • 3. Exercise 1: Drawing lines

    • 4. A bit about paper

    • 5. A bit about ink

    • 6. Exercise 2: Working in layers

    • 7. Exercise 3: Let´s draw

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About This Class

How do you get started with inking illustrations? What colours go well together? Where to start? This was my struggle in the beginning of my journey as an illustrator. So I started out with just one color and soon made it into a part of my praxis - a monochromatic style. This is what I want to pas on.

Starting out with a monochromatic ink style, you can really focus on the use of brushes, the quality of the paper and what ink to start with. And still get really beautiful illustrations.

Join me as we take the first simple steps into a monochromatic world of ink.

Meet Your Teacher

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Lena Nicolajsen

Illustrator and Designer


Hello, I'm Lena.

I am an illustrator, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. I began my career working for companies, now I am working as an independent illustrator and designer with illustration, making toys for children and childish souls, posters and cards. Published children's books author and illustrator. Also I work as a freelance designer and illustrator. I make illustration, pattern design, work for publishers and companies. 

I draw little monsters and babies, book cards for those people we like a lot, and for the ones we love. To bring art and lovely characters into our homes and lives – that’s what this is all about, for me anyway!

You can see more on my website.

I also have an online presence on instagram and facebook, where I pos... See full profile

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1. The project - one colour, one illustration: Hi. My name is Lama. Today, I'm gonna be teaching you about making illustrations using only Inc. I call it the Monochromatic. So because we're gonna end up making one illustration in only one color ink, we're gonna take it down to three different steps. So it's gonna be really simple and easy to get started with before you start. I'm going to show you the tools that you need Inc water paper to test your color on anything for Mexican colors, Big and small brushes. Then you have your workspace and you're ready to go. 2. A bit about brushes - finding the one for you: Now we're gonna talk about brushes. At the moment. I'm using a 40 basic. It's a thin synthetic brush room. Divinci. It's a really stiff in the hair, and that's what I need to get a really precise line of softer brushes that can be really nice for painting, surface and texture. But for it was for precise illustration. I really prefer harder hair, and that's some of the things that you can look for when you go and buy the brushes that suits you. But I will definitely recommend that you try them out, try some different kinds in the beginning and for the next exercise and for doing these kinds of illustration. I look, I encourage you to have a really pointy oneness, a small brush for the thin lines, and I think a brush for the Seeker lent. It doesn't have to be this thick, but I think 3. Exercise 1: Drawing lines: so the first exercise is just drawing line. And I will. I suggest that you try to see this as a meditation practice. Just be really present and experimenting with the paper. And the line drawing will get you into a state of just trying things out. And this is what will get you closer to know your brushes and being better at handling. Then when you do illustrations, I always start out with mixing the color with a lot of water. Also, to see what, like the pale is shade off. This color can give me this. I also used for later. When I am, I start with the new illustration to see what range the color can give me from the very dense is to the very lightest color shade. We're gonna use this because we're gonna do monochromatic illustrations. We're gonna need to know the range of each color. It's really good to have paper that has construction, and you can actually kind of use it to draw out some of the colors. If you have putting put too much color into the illustration, you're gonna keep collect some of it. You can also collect some of the ink from the brush. If it's too much or you're changing the color into another color, I usually use the alone Kliger. It's a brand that I really, really like. Also, I think their colors have a really big range. They are really dense in the pigmentation, so you get a lot of color in the deeper toned and and they still have some vibrance in the lighter tunes. So this is really one of my favorite friends. I can recommend it. So the big difference between the using watercolor and I think, is the fluidity off. The pigmentation is in the ink, which I really enjoy with the water color. You will have to mix the pigment in the in the block into the water, and that will give you the color that you need. It's really solid. I love working with watercolor, but the ink just gets me more off a solid surface. Also, many of the colors that I have been working and they haven't a density that I haven't found in many watercolor brands. I think for me it has been a struggle to get to know color, so for me it's been really good to just focus on a couple of colors at a time. In the beginning of my development as an illustrated, I haven't really shown your house used the cinder lines, which could also be really interesting for you to you don't have to use really expensive paper to do this exercise because you might be using a lot of paper. And every time you don't really know what to draw, I would suggest you drop beautiful lines. Also, you can really get you some of the effects that are almost impossible to get in. Did your soul media and also harder to get in political illustrations. So the section of the paper will really decide how long it will take to dry also the heat in the room. But it's fairly fast. I always give it a bit longer than you think. So if you have to work on illustration in several layers, I would give it 15 20 minutes to be sure that it's totally dry. So you're gonna be using a lot of money on brushes, and I will recommend you take care of them. I brought this brush Shope from DaVinci. I'm sure other brands also have it, and I am. I use it every time I'm finished using my brush. It's really annoying, but it's really good. It's really necessary to keep it alive, especially brushes like these that are expensive and think this one has lasted me for 20 years, I think. And yeah, I just wash it down, but some water and some soap, and then when washed it totally through. And instead, if you just take some paper to dip it, you can get all of the color out of it can see how much color there's in a rush like this. 4. A bit about paper: Now we're gonna talk about paper for the illustration with think. If you really need Teoh scan in the illustration after you've done that, the surfers a structure of the paper will be one of the things that you should be looking for. Another thing that would be important for you is that if you use a lot of ink on a thinner paper not just a lot of ink, but also a lot of water it will make it will bend somehow. I was trying to show you how that will look here. This is just a normal drawing paper, so you can see it has many different structures. Actually, sometimes it can't be interesting. I would recommend you almost drawn any paper you have at home. But the thinner the paper is, the less suction it can take in. I myself use, um, the 300 gram paper. It's half paper and half cotton. Actually, it hasn't the less least structure that I have found. Until now. I would like it to have less structure, because when I scan it into my computer, I have to take out all the structure to be able to get it into print, but this paper will not bend. No matter how much water you put on it, then that's really nice. And also that it's 50% cotton does that. This section is really fast. And then that's good for the purpose that I needed for and again remember that everything you used for drawing is the tool that you use, and the ones that are best for you were the ones that of us for you. It also depends on what kind of style you will be developing as a narcissist. A really important paper is the paper that has some kind of sucks section, and you need this all the time to take and the color out of the brush. But also, when you're doing surface drawings at drawing surfaces like this, this could be like this, and you might have some accidents, and you can use this old most s and eraser. Just take up some of the color. You can almost use it as an extra tool. You can take some of the color out, and then you could add some. It will not go into the areas that you dried out. It's kind of amazing, like this and then you can do it again if you need to. You don't know what kind of effect you will need, so play around with it. Keep it as a play from off your choice. 5. A bit about ink: Now we're gonna talk about Inc. I'm using a 300 gram paper combined with 50% cotton, so we just talked a bit about Inc. This is actually not an ink. This is called equal in, which is kind of it's like a water color. But it's the reason that I never used equal Linus because it's actually it's actually really. It has the same thing that the in CASS, it's really smooth and solid and easy to use. It doesn't really am differ that much from one end of the paper to the other, but it's not light fast, so if you put it in a room with a lot of sunlight, it will disappear. This means if you do illustrations that yourself customers are other people are family. They will change in color or totally disappeared. I also had the Parker Inc At some point. This actually has some really funny and structures, and I discovered them by experimenting, and I will definitely say if you have any kind of jar with color in it at home, try it out. The partnering could make some really strange effects. When you mix it up, it will almost go brown some places. I don't know if it was because my coloring my my partnering was really old. But at some point, if I managed to get it to make some really funny brown shadings, and I used it for trolls, drawing trolls that I did at some point, and it was amazing if I but but it will also like the equal I in fade in time. If this doesn't have to be a problem, if you scan it into the computer, you can actually do this, and it will be fine. But if you sell it as a separate illustration, it it will be a problem. So if you make him illustrations in material that's not like fast, just be aware that it can be a problem, for the customers will buy it. If you buy your things and professional shops, which I will always recommend before any of the online shops, you just talk to the people who work there. They will if they're really good know about like Fastness. There's also some symbols on this woman. It's them. The stars will indicate the the quality of the light Fastness, and the square in the back will say if it's transparent in any way, and all of these explanations and graphic symbols will also be on their website or, if they have some explanations explanatory sheets at the stores, they will say to check that out. Can you see the strange brown color getting out of this color? Isn't it just so old? That's the effect that was talking about. That's what I know about. 6. Exercise 2: Working in layers: now I'm gonna use the paper. That was 50% copy and 50% their paper. It's called a Viking. It's from a Danish company called Viking, but I'm sure you can find the 50% cotton 50% paper, 300 gram in almost any brand that you find on the market. The next exercise is just making some simple shapes. And since I'm gonna use the blue color, I would like to draw something that refers to blue. Look how solid and smooth at IHS. I recommend you try blending it up with some more water to see how, like you also get the same color to make some shapes and do some experimenting. It could be the same shape again and again. When you try out to be an illustrator, you will be drawing the same shape again and again a 1,000,000 times. And it's The big task is to find joy and doing that, too, and finding joy and seeing yourself improve because that's the only thing that sure is. If you keep trying, you will improve. So keep drawing. We could let this drive for a while and then dry draw on top of it and I could just tell you that this color is cold sigh in blue. So we're just gonna mention a bit about working dry on dry surface and wet in wet surface. This is also one of the things I love about working in ink that you can always add on the another shade off in this case, plume, and it will give it some other textures. But you can. This is the dry on dry method and then you let it dry and you can work on it again. But you can also use some of the other techniques, like watering down a surface that you already worked on and then adding a really darker shade of the same color. Just gonna use this one. This is gonna be a science with some indigo. It's really dark, especially the indigo below is it's really, really dark in its shade. So we put some of this on here. You get some of this spreading that this kind of coloring him give to a texture. So this pencil is a really, really huge. So if you want a clear line, you can also just at some sharpness by using a finer pencil. And this is why I always have the bigger pencil and the smaller pencil toe work with and this kind of effect. It's really hard to get. I can't get this in a watercolor drawing or illustration. So this is some of the things that you I suggest you play around with. In the next exercise. Try doing a wet on wet area and also doing some dry on dry drawing. This will really add up to some you kind of ways of working with illustration. Awning can take the finer lines to in some of the illustration that on some of the surfaces and then use a stake. Everyone on some of the other ones see what works for you. Let it be almost like a meditation, like the 1st 1 we did with the line drawing. Just sit and play around with it a thing Creativity can really be killed off if you don't make space for playing around, so play around a lot. It's really easy mixing things compared to mixing water colors. The only surprising thing is that the colors can really very in a way that I can never foresee it. So if I take this science blue and take its densest form here. It's almost closing up to, uh, um, almost blackish blue. Right? You can. You can see that it's blue, but it's very close to black, and the shades that it will go down to are actually quite amazing. But it keeps going is this is really you can see how much pigmentation is in the ink because you could almost keep going. So the water come. Is this pigmentation like this? And to get the color out, you need to to, like, scrape the pigmentation into the water. It doesn't It's really amazing in so many ways. That's also wipes surpassed time like it did surfaces ness solid as the that I suggest you using. 7. Exercise 3: Let´s draw: we're gonna close this lesson down with me showing you how to use these exercises to make a complete illustration in just one color. So when I start a new image, I normally take three different brushes, a small one for detail and a bigger one for bigger surface and sometimes also a middle size . But you use the materials you have at home to make the image you want to do. We're making an image with an emerald cream from your own cleaner. The brand that I spoke about previously. A. Normally start by bordering it down to the lightest shade and do some tests. I always have some paper on the side that I contest the colors on. Sometimes I make a composition sketch with the facial features that I'm thinking about doing. I never draw on the paper. I don't sketch on the paper before I make the image, and I try not to plan it too much. Just a loose sketch together. Overview. If I plan too much, it's like the freedom of the image gets. It feels like I don't have any. It limits my space. If I plan everything, it's so much more fun also to be a bit spontaneous in the way we work. I sometimes like I like planning the facial features. If I know there's gonna be a person in the image, that's because there's so much emotion in the facial feature. But it doesn't have to be so precise. Just a small sketch, a little thing. And then I put it on the side so that I can see it when I'm working. And sometimes I decided to change it a bit. Anyway, In this image, I start with the bigger surface. Like the hair, this shape of the face is framed with the hair. The leaves that I'm drawing is a mixture of really big brush strokes and then the smaller lines that we also did in one of our exercises. While the drawing is trying, I add on some of the details. I always do the first sketch in a really light color, and then later I will put a denser color into it, a lecturing nature that's, Ah, symmetric shaped like these Berries, little round Berries and then the lines. It also reminds me of almost a DNA string or something. Sometimes I water a bigger surface And then I add the pure pigment color from the bottle, and you can see how it spreads from really dark to really light gets. It gives the image of really nice effects on these flowers. I'm adding a darker shade, but on a dry on dry surface, so it doesn't have them fluid expression of the hair. And as the image gets more and more done, I also see where it needs so more density. So it goes from the lighter shade to the darker shade. I will suggest you try finding shapes that you really enjoy drawing. It's really clear in all image making that when you enjoy it, it just stands out in another way. That's it. Thank you for watching this lesson. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any comments or questions, you can read them down below, and I will be answering them. Thank you. Yeah,