Lose Your Fear With Ink: Create a Unique Illustration In Simple Steps | Isa Cienfuegos | Skillshare

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Lose Your Fear With Ink: Create a Unique Illustration In Simple Steps

teacher avatar Isa Cienfuegos, Inks & Watercolour

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Why Ink?


    • 4.

      Materials: Paper & Brushes


    • 5.

      Materials: Inks & Others


    • 6.

      First Experiment


    • 7.

      Second Experiment


    • 8.

      Adding White Ink


    • 9.

      Creating Your Unique Illustration


    • 10.



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About This Class

Lose Your Fear With Ink: Create a Unique Illustration In Simple Steps

In this class, you are invited to join me to explore the calming feeling of ink, through simple exercises that will allow you to create an illustration without fear.

Ink has been one of the most basic artistic mediums for many millennia. As a material, it’s inexpensive, easily accessible and wonderfully versatile. It continually opens up a world of possibilities as you learn to use it.

This class is perfect for beginners and all creatives who want to dive into the art of ink and experiment with this medium.

Lessons include:

  • A bit of history about ink
  • Different options for materials + some tips
  • Experiments with black ink
  • Use of white ink
  • Class Project

Let's get started!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Isa Cienfuegos

Inks & Watercolour



"Sometimes breaking the rules can create beautiful results" --Wes Gordon.

My name is Isa Cienfuegos, and I'm a Spanish artist based in a small town facing the mesmerising Mediterranean Sea, in the region of Alicante.

When I was a child, my father taught me to appreciate nature and breath in forests and mountains: to enjoy the sound of the birds and the breeze of the sea. He taught me to feel the warm touch of the sun and the deep bark of the trees, the cold waters of a river and the rough surface of the rocks. All these nurtured a creative mind full of dozens of hope... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Introduction: Art is not just picking up a brush and painting, it is a process full of feelings and intuition. A way to spread ideas and thoughts. A way to become and present. Hello, I'm Isa Cienfuegos, an artist based in Spain. I would like to invite you to come and explore the art of ink painting with me. I will help you to clear your mind and let your inner artists come out and play. In this class, you will learn how to create a unique illustrations through a series of exercises and just letting yourself flow with the ink and water. This class is suitable for beginners and anyone who wants to try the beautiful artistic medium of ink. Let's get started. 2. Class Project: During this class, I want you to think about using this time to explore ideas, develop an understanding of your materials, and to create. It's a perfect time to experiment freely and without limits. If you want to try something in a new or different way, go ahead. By the end of this class, you will create a unique illustration using the techniques you've learned. You can start your project, downloading the PDF file that you can find on the class project section, which has a list of materials needed in this class, as well as a couple of warm up exercises. Please be sure to share your process and the projects you create on the project gallery. I would love to see your finished illustrations, so that I and other students can be inspired and for feedback. If you have any further questions or suggestions, please leave a comment in the discussion section and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Now, grab your favorite [inaudible] , take a deep breath, exhale, and let's go to the following video. 3. Why Ink?: With so many materials to choose from, why ink? Well, it has been one of the most basic artistic medium for many millennia of human history from the ancient China and Egypt, right up to today. As a material, it's inexpensive, easily accessible, and wonderfully versatile. It continually opens up a world of possibilities as you learn to use it. I started my journey back in 2018 during my struggles with [inaudible]. I remember how frustrated I felt with this medium. I tried creating illustrations several times over with brush and pen, but I just wasn't satisfied with the results. My mind couldn't create something and I didn't know why. I felt that something was wrong or missing. So I decided that I needed to try something new and it's scary to go my art style. I challenged myself to transform the negative experience into a new positive adventure. I made many mistakes at the start. I used a wrong kind of paper, too much water, messy lines. There were much trial and error. But it was also a time of exploration and discovery where my curiosity and passion grew as I continued with my journey. Bit by bit, I began to understand ink, embraced how unpredictable it could be. Another valuable lesson that I learned is that the right materials can make the experience much easier. So let me talk to you about that in the next video. 4. Materials: Paper & Brushes: It is time to choose the materials that we are going to use for this class. In this section, I will guide you through some paper options, brushes, inks, and other useful tools that you can use for your experiments with ink. Bristol paper is the most used for painting with this medium, but you have to be sure that it has a weight of at least 250, so you don't have problems when applying ink and water on it. Bristol is a thick paper with a smooth white surface that makes the ink flow freely. You can achieve real results with Canson, but almost all brands of paper have Bristol options and some differences between them. For example, we can find Daler and Rowney with acrylic surface, a perfect option for ink, pencils and even airbrush. Another option is a Strathmore a brand that I personally love to work with. This one is a bit thicker with a weight of 2,070 and a more yellowish colored surface, perfect for significant use of water and ink. But if you don't find Bristol paper on your art supply store, you can always use watercolor cold press paper, it is thick, absorbs lots of water, thanks to the fact that it has a weight of 300 and it also has a minimal grain in its surface. Last option is using hot press paper that give us amazing effects on quality, but it's more pricey, so I recommend you to start with most basic paper for the moment. When talking about brushes, I recommend using see three watercolor brushes and another one for water or for adding ink to the missing dish. The thin brush that I recommend is a flat brush for adding layers of water. It is also perfect for making swatches and for seen how the ink behaves. This one has been with me for many years, I don't know the current number anymore, but I will say that it is a synthetic brush, number six from Van Gogh. As a second brush, I recommend a bit rounden one, so you can make bigger strokes over the paper with ink. A fair brush, and for me the most important, it is a thin brush. I have to admit that this one is from an expensive brand. For many years I have bought and just brush it of this size, and I have always found problems with the hair falling or the brush losing the pointed of tip. I personally recommend you to invest a little bit in one. It is very frustrating painting and not getting your lines correct due to a lousy quality brush. Last but not least important, a regular brush for applying ink into the mixing dish. 5. Materials: Inks & Others: Now, it is time to talk about ink. For this class, we will use black Indian ink. I recommend this one from Winsor & Newton with the little spider body on the package. It is a very good ink, dark, waterproof, and very affordable. It comes in a tiny bottle of glass, that can last you a lot of time. If you don't find this one, don't worry, you can use liquid Indian ink from the same brand. This one is more similar to the traditional Indian ink, and it is non-waterproof. It also has a mate effect when drying, while the first one has a satin effect. For details and effects, I recommend you using white gouache. Adding this element to black ink, it opens up a world to explore as this to millions behave differently. For tiny details, you can use white gel pens. You can find the angelic white from Mitsubishi. Jelly roll pens from Sakura that are available in different sizes. There are also pens from Faber-Castell that contain liquid white Indian ink. But my favorite option when using pens is Uni-Posca. This pen has white acrylic ink and it works wonderfully well with black ink. It is exceptionally white, so you can create contrast in your works quickly and cleanly. I mainly use calligraphy ink for my illustrations. It works very well over layers of black ink. It is pretty opaque and has excellent consistency. I also use Liquitex acrylic ink, my most favorite white paint. I discovered this ink when painting for an art challenge, and it has been my best companions since then. Is very similar to using a Uni-Posca pen, as both are acrylic ink. Liquitex format gives me more freedom, an ink dropper and lots of hours of painting. So if you can, buy a bottle of white ink, you won't be disappointed. You will also need some masking tape. No particular brand or size. Some mixing dishes. I recommend using ceramic bowls as they are easy to clean. I use two with three pots in each one, and another one only for white ink. A big jar of glass will also be a useful tool in this class. The bigger the best. As ink stains water a lot. I even recommend you having two bottles, recycle sand and fill them with water. Also some paper towels to clear the vase and to clean the brush. Very important paint over a surface you are not worried to stain. Use a board or some pieces of newspaper to protect the table you have underneath your working area. To sum up, you need some Bristol paper, a ceramic mixing dish, a bottle of black Indian ink, some gouache or white ink, masking tape, a couple of brushes, and some pieces of paper towel. Now that you have all your materials, fill your jar of glass with water, and let's experiment with ink on the following video. 6. First Experiment: We are going to start with an experiment to explore ink and our brushes. With a new page of Bristol or watercolor paper ready, two jars of glass full of water, and our ink, first, we are going to soak some of our brushes with water, leaving one for putting ink in our mixing bowl. Try to take only a little bit of ink from the bottle, as we want to dilute it with water as much as possible. Put the ink on the first pot and spread it gently on it. There is no rush. Take this time to read and see how ink looks. Then we are going to wet this brush on water, not too much, and we are going to paint in the second pot. You can see that the ink is less dark. We repeat the same action on the third pot. These give us three versions of our ink, one lighter than the other. You can add more ink to the mix if you want. I usually prepare my mixing bowl like this before beginning with any illustration, picking the most diluted ink to paint my first layers, as we are interested in painting with ink from light to dark to create contrast. As the first contact with ink in the paper, we are going to paint on straight lines with our flat brush. Take your time soaking the brush in ink on both sides as this will make the ink flow more evenly. When you draw the first line, you can see how the ink reacts on the paper, creating a trail that fades toward the end of the sheet. Depending on the temperature, the ink will dry instantly or it will take a little time. You can appreciate how, when it dries, it loses some of its darkness. Depending on the brand, Son inks don't light up so much as others when drying. Now, we will fill up the whole page with stripes. I encourage you to play with all of your diluted options or with adding more water and ink to see the differences. Don't worry if the lines don't come out straight. With each one you do, you will improve your grip and brush movement. With this experiment, we are not looking for perfection, but rather to explore how the ink behaves. You can even try painting a line by taking the ink literally from the bottle. The intensity of the black changes considerably, and depending on the brush, it will create curious textures on its way. If you have some extra space on the sheet, feel free to fill it in with a few quick strokes to see what happens when the brush runs out of ink. Now, your page will look like this. You will be able to appreciate the variations in the paper according to the amount of ink that you have used in each brushstroke. I highly recommend doing this type of exercise as many times as you want, as it helps a lot to take your ink and new ones that you buy in the future, in addition to helping you improve your strokes and empty your mind. For the next step, we are going to take a different brush, and on the same paper, we are going to start painting lines vertically. Our intention in this experiment is to use the same sheet of paper to appreciate how the ink behaves layer upon layer, following the natural process of an illustration. This is going to give us an insight into how we can use ink in our class project. A funny thing is that something as simple as drawing lines can calm you and focus your thoughts. It's one of the things I appreciate the most about ink, as you don't have to worry about matching colors or making perfect lines. There is simply you, the ink, and the paper, a moment of serenity. Try changing your brush or painting other types of lines, like these, that simulate a tree and its branches. Use this time to get to know your brushes and see what you can do with them. Fill the page without fear. Now, we are going to take some ink with a brush and paint a spot on the paper. We take another paint brush well-soaked in water, and we pass it along the edge of our stain. This will make the ink dissolve, and the magic of this artistic medium begins to flow. Let your hand move by itself without thinking. Here, there are no mistakes, just calm and the flow of the ink. Keep adding water, ink, and play with the brushstrokes. Enjoy the moment and finish painting whenever you want. 7. Second Experiment: In this experiment, we are going to explore the use of water over ink in a little more detail. With a wet brush, we are going to draw a circle on the paper. It doesn't matter if it's not clean at all. We are only interested in making a circle with water. Now with another brush, we are going to take some ink and paint with the small strokes on the water circle. The ink will start to flow. You see that it doesn't happen, it is because the circle has very little water. But passing a brush with water over it will solve the problem. Here, we can see how we can move the ink with the brush and how it reacts by creating lighter and darker areas. Now we create an ink line and we dilute it as we did in the previous experiment. With a clean brush, we applied the tip on the edge. Being such a warm day, the ink has dried very quickly and I have not been able to dilute the ink properly, but that doesn't have to stop us from playing with ink. Take note if it happens to you, do have a brush with water prepared in advance, and to be able to dilute the ink before it dries. As you can see, the paper perfectly withstands the application of several layers as water offering a surface on which to work without problems. With a crumpled piece of paper towel, we are going to create some textures. We pass it through an area that is still somewhat dump to move the ink. Try not to press too hard so as not to damage the paper. Ink is an art of delicacy. You can keep on exploring creating shapes with water, and letting the ink flow through it. Don't limit yourself and try as many as you want. An easy way to create whites when there is too much ink concentrated in one spot is to use a dry brush in the area. This will create a nice gradient. Gently slide the tip of the brush and wipe it after each stroke on the paper towel. You can use other tools to create textures, a sponge, a toothbrush, branches. If you have any on hand, feel free to try them and see what happens. 8. Adding White Ink: As the last part of our experiments, we are going to add white to our piece of paper. As I mentioned in the material section, you have several options available. Among them, white calligraphy ink or gouache. In this case, I am going to use the second option so let's put some paint in the bowl. To add white, I recommend using a completely clean brush since we don't want the ink to stain black. For this part, we will also use the second glass jar to be able to easily clean the brush. With white, we proceed the same as with black ink. With a clean and wet brush, we dilute the paint little by little. For the first layer of white, we want it to be quite transparent so that we can later paint over it with a more opaque layer. Painting with white requires several tries until you achieve the desired transparency or intensity. But once you get the hang of it, it gives you a chance to bring your illustrations to life. You can dry paint on paper or add water to create gradients in shades of gray. You can also make splashes, which always creates a dramatic and magical effect at the same time. Sometimes there are areas with black ink that haven't dried completely. So when you paint over it with white, it become grays. It is a perfect opportunity to create tones, contrast or textures. After finishing your experiments, you have been able to observe how the black ink reacts on the paper and with the water. You have seen that we can dilute it, guide it with the brush and absorb it with a paper towel. You have also been able to play a bit with the white color. Now that your two experiments have dried, we can appreciate the shapes that have remained. Using ink in this way, everything is to let yourself go and be amazed at the result. Sometimes surprising things will come out. Other times a mass of black and grays. Each of those results is an opportunity to create a story, to add details, and explore little worlds, to have fun and relax. 9. Creating Your Unique Illustration: We will start with a new sheet of paper. For this illustration, I'm going to paint in landscape mode, and I'm also going to put a metal clamp on one side to make sure the paper doesn't move and the pages stay together. The next thing we are going to do is put some masking tape, leaving an edge that will have no ink and that will create an adjacent effect. If you don't have masking tape, don't worry and let the ink flow naturally. It will also create very curious and unpredictable effects. After having placed the masking tape, we will take our jar full of water and soak the largest brush well. Next, we will apply a generous layer of water all over the paper. This makes the paper absorb the first layer, which will help us to prevent the paper from curdling when applying the next one. We will let it dry completely before starting to paint. Meanwhile, you can prepare the ink on the mixing bowl. Now with our paper dry, we will apply water randomly. With a brush loaded with ink, we will add a layer. Once we start using the ink, I recommend that you let the hand moves by itself, letting the first layer appear little by little, playing with what you have learned in the experiments. You can lift and turn the paper so that the ink flows through it. This creates wonderful blends, gradients and shapes in a magical way. A small wall that moves and evolves, becoming something new. This is one of my favorite parts of the process for an illustration, it is so mesmerizing and calming. Applying less diluted ink will create contrast and a sense of depth to our illustration while it mixes with the background. Now the painting will have bring about the result. Follow your intuition while you make the brush dance on the paper. Once your painting is completely dry, it's the time to start painting details. As mentioned it in the experiment section, you can use an old toothbrush with some diluted black ink to create little creatures or dust effects. When using white ink, you can create a snow, fireflies or mystic effects. For this, you need a good quantity of diluted ink to wet the toothbrush well on it. Put your hand in front of you to protect your workspace from staining or to protect some areas of your illustration. Splattering is a very simple effect that adds texture and life to your illustrations. Remember that to create textures, you can use a piece of paper towel, a toothbrush, a sponge, a hard brush or anything you find suitable. Don't get worried about the amount of ink to apply to a paper, just paint and see what happens. You have two options, leaving your illustration like this, or playing a little more adding some white details with water. So let's be sure to have a nice jar of glass full of water. We repeat the use of a toothbrush, clean it well and dry it a little bit in the paper towel before soaking it in white diluted ink. You can achieve the same effect in this way. The dots will be more rounded and defined. Combine both options to have a good variation of the effect. You can also use the white pens mentioned in the materials section. As the last part of the process, we apply ink directly from the bottle to create a quick last layer to increase the sense of depth in our illustration. With a piece of paper towel we used before, we can absorb some ink to create sunlight effects. You can also paint shadows in this layer to create more balance between black and white tones. When painting like this, there is no room for perfection, just for improvisation. There is a quote by the American fashion designer Wes Gordon, that I love to have in mind as an artist, "Sometimes breaking the rules can create beautiful results". As a creator, you can follow some guides at the beginning. But don't forget that breaking the rules opens your mind and makes you walk a wonderful journey of self-discovery. Last, but not less important, is letting your illustration dry completely and remove the masking tape. To achieve a clean result without ripping the paper, warm up the masking tape to loosen the glue. You can remove it without doing this but sometimes you can have a big accident as it's happening to me. As you can see, the masking tape removed part of my illustration. When this happens, it can make you feel discouraged, but don't panic. You can always make a crop or create a white frame with a piece of white cardboard or thick paper. 10. Conclussion: Congratulations on finishing your first unique illustration. I hope you have enjoyed this experience and fallen a little bit in love with ink. Over the course of this class, we've covered the basics of this beautiful medium. We learned how to go with the flow of ink on water, and how to let the brush dance across the paper without fear. If there is one thing I hope to take away from this class is this, let yourself be guided by your intuition. There is a quote by the outstanding artist and animator, Hayao Miyazaki, "Always believe in yourself, no matter where you are, you will have nothing to fear." With this in mind, let yourself create without worry. Ink gives you a wonderful opportunity to be open to the unexpected and to create illustrations like the one you have done for the class. Please be sure to upload your project to your project's gallery, and share your experiences with everyone. It will be an absolute pleasure to see your progress and your finished illustrations. You can also post them on Instagram using the hashtag inkingwithoutfear. I will be sharing your works in my stories. If you have liked the class, please leave a review so that I can see what you liked and what can be improved. This is my first ever class, so any information is welcome. Also, if you have any questions about ink, please ask me in the discussion section. To learn more about future classes, please be sure to follow me on Skillshare and on Instagram. See you next time.