Marks & Moods: Brush Pen Adventures with Lines and Textures | Marie-Noëlle Wurm | Skillshare

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Marks & Moods: Brush Pen Adventures with Lines and Textures

teacher avatar Marie-Noëlle Wurm, Artist, illustrator, HSP

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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.

      Brush Pen Adventures Intro


    • 2.

      Tools You Need + Characteristics


    • 3.

      Line Weight


    • 4.

      Line Speed


    • 5.

      Shaping the Brush, Angle & Grip


    • 6.

      Two Brush Pens & Hard Edges vs. Soft Edges


    • 7.

      Exploring Abstraction: Exercise + Demo


    • 8.

      Repetition-Variation: Exercise + Demo


    • 9.

      Figurative Drawing: Exercise + Demo


    • 10.

      Marks, Moods & Illustration—More Examples


    • 11.

      So Long and Thanks for all the Fish


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About This Class

In this class, you're invited to join me on a brush pen adventure where we'll be exploring all the multitude of possibilities offered by the brush pen! 
In particular we'll be delving deep into lines and textures, and how you can create a huge array of different marks with this simple tool. I'll be showing you demonstrations of each and every technique as well as each one of the class project drawings. 
You'll be invited to create exploratory drawings to discover the breadth of possibilities offered by the brush pen, as well as abstract drawings and figurative drawings, so that you can really hone in on your inking techniques, improve your overall ink work, and push out of your comfort zones.

Just in time for Inktober, you'll be able to delve into one of my favorite tools, and whether or not you participate in the Inktober challenge, I hope you'll find the class useful, fun and inspiring! :) 

If you want to check out some of my other classes, they're over here: 

Abstract Watercolor Painting: Explore Through Freeform & Planned Process ( selected as a Staff Pick!)

Fearless Art Jumpstart: A 14-Day Drawing Challenge to Unlock Your Creative Self

Drawing Plants & Leaves: Grow Your Unique Style Through a Visual Library 

Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Finding Your Voice as an Artist

Unleash Your Creativity: Draw Without Fear in 5 Simple Exercises

Meet Your Teacher

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Marie-Noëlle Wurm

Artist, illustrator, HSP

Top Teacher

I believe that every single one of us has a wealth of untapped creativity that lies within. Maybe there are brambles and thickets in the way so that it feels dark & scary or awakens the lurking beasts in the shadows. But it's there. I hope to lend a hand on this sometimes scary but beautiful journey of getting back in touch with your creativity, of expansion, exploration, of opening yourself up to the wealth of wisdom inside you--to help you gently brush away the brambles and the thickets, and clear away the path back to yourself & the creative fields that lie within.

Hi, my name is Marie-Noelle Wurm, and I'm a French, American and German artist & illustrator living in the South of France. You'll often find me sipping good coffee in local cafes, reading a book, working or plann... See full profile

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1. Brush Pen Adventures Intro: Improve your Ink work, brush pen adventures through lines and textures. That's this class. Welcome. Hi, my name is Marie Noelle Wurm. I'm an artist and illustrator and welcome to my fifth class, which is going to be all about brush pens. In particular, I'd like to invite you to join me on a brush pen adventure because inking can be a very challenging task, and I want us to go explore all the different types of lines and textures that we can create using a brush pen in order to broaden the range of marks that were making and improve our drawings. In this class, I'm going to bring you through an array of different exercises and demonstrations in order to show you all the variety of things that you can do with a single tool, the brush pen. We are going to do exploratory drawings, abstract drawing, and figurative drawings, and just seeing how far you can go in to varying the types of lines and marks and textures that you can create. This class is for anyone who's interested in improving their inking, whether or not it's the first time that you've picked up your brush pen or the tenth or the 100th time. The key here is really that it's exploratory. Then I'm going to be trying to give you little tips and tools in order to push yourself a little further within you're inking techniques. Also, a little mouse told me that ink [inaudible] was coming up. If you're thinking of doing it in October, then this class might hopefully be useful to you. But whether or not you're doing in October or not, if you like inking, if you like brush pens, if you like exploring and having fun, this class for you. In the past few months, the brush pen is the tool that I've been using the most. I've used it to work on a book illustration contract and my own personal illustrations. It's a really fascinating tool that allows for a multitude of possibilities. I'm excited to bring you along with me on this brush pen adventure and share my brush pen passion with you. But it's a mouthful. Grab your pens, grab your sketchbooks. Are you ready to do this with me? Let's go. 2. Tools You Need + Characteristics: Let's get started. All you'll need for the class is a sketchbook. This is a big mole skin sketchbook, and I also have a small one. But any sort of sketch book will do, or even paper if you don't have a sketchbook lying around. You'll also need a brush pen. I have two of them, but I'll explain to you later why that is. I'd like to start off by showing you what the brush pen is and what its characteristics are. Both of these are Pentel brush pens, but there are many other brands. Feel free if you don't have a Pentel brush pen, that doesn't matter as long as you have brush pen. As its name says, it does have a tip that is similar to a brush. It has many single synthetic filaments that compose it. The difference with a brush, a normal brush which you usually dip into your ink or your paint, in this, it's a pen, and so the ink is already there in the form of a cartridge. You can refill these, which is really useful. It means that you can also take it with you when you travel, and it's pretty easy to manage. Another advantage with the fact that it is a cartridge brush pen, is that the inflow is quite regular. That allows more of a homogeneous line, which is different from when you're actually putting the ink yourself onto your brush. But both have different qualities, of course. 3. Line Weight: The first thing that I want us to talk about is line weight. Line weight is the thickness and the blackness of the line. One thing I love about the brush pen is how much variation in line weight you can get, and I'll show you what I mean by that. I can go from something that is a very thin line to something which is very thick. You see how much range there is in my line. I can go from something extremely thin to something extremely thick with a single tool. That's really awesome with the brush pen. That's what makes it really fun. For this first exercise, what I'd like you to work on is different line weights. You can go from something that is really almost only a single little strand, and you can make that even squiggly. One thing that helps maintain more of a consistency with these thin lines is to use your hand and anchor it on your sketchbook or on your page in order to really just hover above the page very lightly. Sometimes even the ink almost disappears, and you can't see it. Then you'll see maybe it's easier to go up or to go down. In any case, there's a lot of different ways that you can do this. The more that you practice this, the better consistency you'll get, and the more you'll learn to be able to control the line weight. Now, I'm going to go for something that's a little bit more medium range. I can play around with that. I can do something a little more squiggly and do straight lines and different angles. Then I can play around with something that's much thicker. For this first exercise, I'd like you to play around with line weight and go from something very thin to something that is very thick, varying the different angles that you use and see how that looks for you. 4. Line Speed: Now I'd like us to talk about line speed. What I mean by that is the speed with which you create your lines. For example, if I draw pretty slowly, which is actually something that I did automatically when I do more of the detailed thin line, but I can also do when I'm doing a thicker line. When I draw slowly, then the ink really has the time to go down each single strand. What it does is that it creates a very full black line that has a lot of contrast and I can do that even if I'm going into a line that's much thinner. I can maintain a consistent black line that looks very wet. Now let me show you what it looks like when you actually speed up the movement of your hand. Do you see how the texture is different there? I can do that even if I'm doing very thin lines. What happens is that at the beginning there's a lot of ink, but then as I progress because I'm going so fast, there's not enough time for the ink to flow down into each one of the filaments. What that does is that creates this dry brush effect. That's actually a super useful texture that you can use in your drawings. Let me show you even if you accelerated even more. See how fast I went? There was barely any ink that was able to get there, but just a little, little bit of scratchiness. That creates these really cool effects that you can use in your drawings. To show you another comparison, look at that next to this line, which I'm doing in the same thickness, but just much more slowly. You see how much of the variability that creates? That's super fun and that's a really useful tool in your drawing. For this second exercise, I'd like you to play around with the speed with which you're creating your lines and seeing how that modifies the way your lines look. 5. Shaping the Brush, Angle & Grip: Now, we're going to talk about the direction and the shape of the brush. What I mean by that is that since it is a brush, you can shape it. Depending on the angle with which I use my brush, it will create different shapes. Can do something more like a tic-tac almost. These are all just variations in the angle, in the pressure and in the way that I hold the pen. Because of course we all have automatic ways that we like to hold our pen, but what is actually really useful is if you can vary that depending on what you need for your drawing. For example, I'm holding my brush pen this way, but if I want, I could hold it a little bit higher or even a little bit lower. If I hold it lower, then I have much more deliberate control of the tip of my line and I can really work with that. If I hold it up here, then I don't control it as well and then there's a little added shakiness that gets injected into my line, but which can give a really interesting quality to some of my drawings if I like that. I can also hold it more loosely or a little bit more tightly and have it be more controlled. So there's a lot of variation that you can do here, even with the types of marks that you make and how the brush reacts to that and even sometimes I can get two parallel lines if I shape it well. So experiment with your brush pen. I'd even say that knowing that I have two of them, they don't shape in the same way. They each have their own characteristics. It's really about getting to know the tool that you have and learning the entire range of its possibilities so that you can choose between these possibilities when you're creating your own drawing. For this exercise, vary the way that you hold the pen, the shape of the brush and the angle with which you're holding it. 6. Two Brush Pens & Hard Edges vs. Soft Edges: Now I'm going to explain to you why it is that I have to brush pens. Initially, I had actually only gotten one. I noticed something interesting as I was using it. Basically, here I've been showing you all the variation that you can have with a full cartridge. You see how huge this variation is. I can go from something that's very wet, regular line, to something that's very dry and textured, I can go from something very thin to something very thick, I can have different types of shapes, all of those are with the full cartridge. Something happens though, when you have an almost empty cartridge. It's something that can be quite useful. Whereas what you saw with my full cartridge is I could only get this dry brush effect by varying the speed with which I was using the brush pen, and more specifically, the faster I went, the more of a dry brush effect I had, when the cartridge is almost empty, there's not enough ink to go around. I'm not quite satisfied because my pen still has too much ink in it for me to show you, so I'm just going to empty it a little bit more. When the cartridge is almost empty, I don't even need to be drawing fast in order to get that dry brush effect. This is actually super useful because maybe you want to use this dry brush effect while you're drawing slowly. That can give added textures and depth to your paintings and also can help you choose between working with hard edges and soft edges. I'm going to show you what I mean by this. This is a shape that I created that has a hard edge, which means that it's very clearly defined and you can tell where it begins and where it ends very clearly. A soft edge is something where you can't tell as much, where it ends and where it begins. Do you see here on the edges how it's a little bit less defined than it is on any of these edges? A soft edge has a tendency to slightly blend into the background rather than being a clear, defined edge between your line and the background. Just to give you another example of hard edge versus soft edge, I'm going to switch to pencil here, which is one of the best tools to make this notion very clear in your mind. You see here on the left side, I have these shapes that I'd made that have a distinct hard edge, where you have a very clear boundary between the mark that I made in the background. On the right here, I use the side of the pencil in order to create this gradation. This gradation creates a soft edge so you can't quite tell where the mark begins and where the background begins. There's a sense of blurriness in this soft edge. This really gives you a very clear idea of the difference between the two. Obviously, with the pen, you're not going to be able to get that range of a soft edge. You're not going to be able to go that transparent. But there still is a difference between these two and you can still work on this difference between hard edges and soft edges given by the dry brush technique. You see now even if I go very fast, look at how much of a softer edge that is. You can barely tell where it begins. Then there are a few little dots here and there where the ink somehow gets through but the soft edge is there. Obviously, you won't be able to use this technique until your brush pen runs out of ink but it's something to keep in mind for when your pen does run out. Another important thing to note is that when you have a dry cartridge, then making thin lines is actually going to become easier because you don't have as much ink to go with. That's another way to help you make very thin lines. The one thing that I would say is the most important for any of these techniques, is that practice will make you better at them. The more that you create drawings using a variety of techniques and trying out different ways of using this brush pen, then the easier it's going to get for you to control it and decide when and where to use which technique. Bottom line, use these techniques in as many different ways as you can and make more drawings. That's something that I say in absolutely every single one of my classes. The only way to get better at drawing is to draw more and to draw with deliberate practice, by pushing yourself out of your comfort zones. Go ahead and try it. It just might grow on you. 7. Exploring Abstraction: Exercise + Demo: In the making of this course, I actually ended up doing a lot of these practice pages, because every time I had an issue with the filming or there was something going wrong. I ended up doing a lot of them and this is going to be my starting point for the next exercise. You can use your page of exercises as the starting point. Or if you'd prefer, you can start on a different page. What we're going to be doing is an abstract drawing using the Brush Pen. I'm choosing to use this as my starting point just to show you that any drawing can be a starting point in order to transform it into something that you like. I have to say I actually already quite like some of these patterns, and so I'm just going to be building on it, transforming it while trying to use a number of these techniques. 8. Repetition-Variation: Exercise + Demo: For this next exercise, what I'd like us to do is to choose one of the textures that we discovered in our previous exercises or drawings. Now we're going to create a drawing where we use that texture and repeat it and the reason that I want us to try this out is because repetition can create really beautiful drawing. So if you haven't yet done this before, then I really recommend you try it. If you have tried it before, why not try it again? As always, the exercises that I give or recommendations, things to experiment and to try out and by no means feel like you have to do something if you really dislike it. But if it does push you out of your comfort zone, then why not give it a try? I'm going to work with a pen that has a full cartridge. I think I'm going to go for a wave shaping my brush. Of course, since it is a brush pen and since we are by no means perfect, there will be variations between each one of your strokes when you're doing this repetitive exercise. But that's actually what makes this repetition interesting, is not the fact that you want to keep them all exactly the same, but all the minuet variations and how they all build together to create something interesting. As you can tell in my version of this exercise, I chose not to fill the entire page and rather focused it on a specific shape where I was using negative space in contrast to the positive space with repetition. You can choose to do that, but if you also want to fill up your entire page just to see what that texture would look like. That's absolutely fine. Another element that I'd like to note is that both of these, I obviously made very abstract drawings. But if you'd like to integrate a figurative element within any of these exercises, that's totally fine too. The key of this is not necessarily to create a finished drawing for either of these exercises. The idea is to really explore the different textures and discover more about what possibilities are being offered and that you can then apply to other drawings.So if you end up getting a drawing that you're satisfied with, that's great. If not, it doesn't really matter. Figure out what's important to learn from that drawing and move on. I'd love to see where you went with both of these exercises. So please go ahead and share in the project section so that we can all get a feel for what we've experimented and explored. We can feed off each other's ideas and try new things. 9. Figurative Drawing: Exercise + Demo: For this next exercise, I'm going to ask you to create a figurative drawing. I've decided to go with creatures, but that's just because it's something that I like drawing. You can choose to do whatever it is that you're interested in drawing. So whether it's an observational drawing of something that's in your house, or a tree, or a person, whatever object you find inspiring. I want you to use one or several of the techniques that you learned during the class, in order to finalize this drawing. In my drawing, I'm going to be using an almost dry brush pen in order to show you kind of what you can do with a soft edge or dry brush technique. But if your brush pen isn't empty yet and you can't actually do the slow dry brush technique, then that's fine. You don't need to do that, just choose one of the ones that you explored and figured out during this lesson, and see where it brings you, I can't wait to see what you make and please share in the project section so we can all give each other feedback and support each other in this exploratory adventure. 10. Marks, Moods & Illustration—More Examples: Hey everyone. I'm putting together this little bonus video for you because a few of you reached out saying that you'd be interested in seeing more examples of artwork made with the brush pen. In particular, I wanted to show you few examples from a book illustration contract and a few examples of some more personal pieces as well. In particular, in this class, I showed you the process that is behind most of the work that I do, which is more of an improvisational way of working where you work with the unexpected and see where things bring you. In the book illustration contract that I was working on, I was using more of a planned process where I was coming up with ideas, brainstorming, creating a sketch, and then inking after that. I guess the real thing that I want to be showing you here is that there are many different ways of using your brush pen and that all the knowledge that you gather when you're working on your different lines, on your different textures is something that you can use no matter what method of drawing you're doing. Whether you're doing something figurative or abstract, whether you're doing something that is very planned out or something that is more improvisational. In all of those cases, what's really important is being able to identify the mood or the feeling that emanates from the marks that you are creating, so that when you're trying to work on a piece, it can be more purposeful and match the mood that you're trying to convey. It's really a dialogue between yourself and the drive remarks that you are creating. For example, in the case of a planned piece of artwork where you've done advanced brainstorming and sketching and then you start inking, then you're going to be able to very quickly know which types of marks or lines we're going to be wanting to use for that piece. On the other hand, if you're doing something that's a little bit more improvisational, then you're going to be better able to identify the feeling that's emanating from the haphazardness of your improvisation and better directed so that it goes in the way that you'd like it to go. I want to show you a few examples of these notions that I'm talking about. This is one of the book illustrations that I was working on and you can see immediately that I am using a number of different textures in order to evoke the differences between these individual plants. It's the differences in the texture and the line work that's going to allow me to create this Jiang Li atmosphere that I'm looking for, and whereas for most of these plants, I'm using very detailed fine line work. I'm also using the thick brush pen lines, and I'm using those as part of the design of the image. In particular, when you use that thick line, you'll see the edges of each one of those marks, and rather than being frustrated by that, I'm trying to use it to my advantage so that it evokes the texture of the water and really becomes a part of my image. Don't get me wrong, this image was super complex and took me days of planning in order to finalize it. But I just thought it was a good example of how you can use your different marks for different reasons and how they can help build your image. In this other example, you can see that I've made a tree that is quite geometric and there's a reason behind that in the story. It's a man-made tree and so in terms of the design, I wanted, the way that I drew it to reflect that man-made, non-organic quality event. In terms of obviously the placement of the branches, but most of all, since we're talking about textures and line work, I wanted my lines to reflect that. So while I was creating the lines on the trunk, i had to be very careful to keep my line very even or as even as possible so as to give it a more rigid geometric quality. Then obviously in terms of the grass, you can see here that I'm using a dry brush technique and that actually helps the perspective and adds a sense of depth to it. In this case, I'm using the dry brush technique as a means of modulating my blacks in my image so that I have more of a great quality and the blurry quality as well. The bottom line is that it's always a dance between what the tool gives you and what you give to the tool. Of course, our tools have this physical reality of what they're able to provide. It's very important for us to be aware of what those limitations and possibilities are, and then there's the emotional resonance of the marks of the lines that we're creating and how that can inform the mood that you're trying to create whether it's by pushing it even more into that feeling or whether it's contrasting it. It's all about becoming more deliberate. Whether you're planning or improvising. There's never a right way or wrong way to go about creating a drawing. There's only something that works in that specific moment or something that doesn't for your specific needs, for your specific drawing. Keep exploring, learn as much as you can about your tools and have fun. I hope you enjoyed that, I hope that was helpful and I can't wait to see your projects in the project section. I'll see you soon. 11. So Long and Thanks for all the Fish: Congratulations, you've reached the end of this course and I hope you had as much fun as I had. If you haven't shared your project in the project section yet, then go ahead and please do that so I can see what you've made and the other students can see what you made, and we can comment on each other's projects, because that's always super fun. I mean, why else would we be on a community website like Skillshare if it wasn't to share amongst each other and give each other feedback and advice and support. Like I said in my introductory video, I have four other classes, so please check those out if you're interested. If you want to know when my next class is coming out, then just click the Follow button in my profile or above this video, if I'm not mistaken, maybe there. That will let you know when my next class is out. Also, if you're looking for me on social media, I have all the things. I'm on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Patreon YouTube, so come find me. I hope that this class was useful to you. For those of you who are doing inktober, good luck. You can do it. I'll see you soon.