Pen and Ink Techniques

I’m currently working on a new project for adult colouring pages where traditional pen and ink is now my vital tool for the time being. It is actually quite difficult to master pen and ink when it comes to using just line weights and techniques which are the only way to add shading, a sense of depth, tone, and texture whilst trying not to create a black and white mass of nothing! This is where the age old pen and ink techniques come in handy; the options are truly endless – you can mix and match various techniques to achieve several effects that add all these things and more.

The Technical Lingo

When working in pen and ink medium it really helps to know the lingo. Below is some vocabulary you will find handy.

Hatching: An ink drawing technique where you apply tone and texture in rows of parallel lines. 

Cross Hatching: Where you crisscross several layers of hatching in order to darken your tones. 

Stippling: Ink drawing technique where you apply tone and texture by altering the density and distribution of ink dots such as a fine pen for light shading using more distance between each dot and increasing the dots to create a darker more dense appearance.

Cross contour: A cross contour drawing contains parallel lines that run across the surface of an object (or radiate from a central point), such as those that appear on a topographical map or a digital wireframe. The lines can run at any appropriate angle (sometimes at multiple angles) and may continue across objects and into the background. Cross contour drawings typically follow the rules of perspective, with lines drawn closer together in the distance and further apart in the foreground. In this type of drawing, the illusion of three-dimensional volume is created entirely with line.

Value:The lightness and darkness of an object or colour.

Tonal Range: Various shades of grey between absolute black and absolute white.

Line: A mark made by a pencil, brush, tool, etc., forming a part of a design.

Form: Pertains to the shape and structure of a particular object.

Contrast: A line, shape, colour or value that differs from those which are dominant in the work.

High Key: Exclusive Use of light or pale values.

Low Key: Exclusive use of dark values.

Texture: The way a surface feels or appears to feels.

Pattern: Repeated line, design, colour, etc.



Pen and Ink Techniques Used in Illustration

This is the line work illustration of the banner image above for my Narnia Snow Queen / Witch. I have used several of the above mentioned techniques to show how they work together and on their own to create various effects. The use of thin lines for the background and thicker lines for the foreground helps to create the illusion of depth.


Pen and Ink Tools

There is a wide array of pens and inks out there like anything from a crow’s quill, traditional dip pen to contemporary markers and brushes, but I find Sakura Pigma Micron – Pigment Fineliner Pens with nib sizes: 0.20mm, 0.25mm, 0.35mm, 0.45mm, 0.50mm or 01/03/05/08/Graphic/Brush works well for me. The ink will not bleed through the paper, and is indelible and lightfast which dries to a neutral PH, they are also water resistant so they are great for using with watercolours or washes.



Completed Illustration Colouring Process Video




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.