Pen and Ink Drawing Best Supplies and Techniques

Pen and Ink Drawing Best Supplies and Techniques

Pen and Ink Drawing Materials

Pen and ink drawing is an exquisite art form that requires specific materials to achieve the best results. The following are essential items you will need for our pen and ink drawing lessons using Indian ink and watercolors:

Types of Pens

Types of Pens

There are several types of pens that artists use for pen and ink drawing. Each type has its own characteristics and uses.

Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens are a common choice for beginners due to their availability and ease of use. They are great for sketching and shading but may not be the best choice for detailed work.

Fountain Pens

Fountain pens offer a classic drawing experience. They are known for their smooth ink flow and the ability to create varied line widths, making them a favorite among many artists.

Technical Pens

Technical pens are used for precise line work and detailing. They have a consistent ink flow and are available in various nib sizes.

Nibbed Pen

A Nibbed Pen (or Dip Pen) is crucial for drawing with Indian ink because fountain or cartridge pens tend to clog as the ink dries. A nibbed pen consists of two detachable parts – the nib and the handle. This type of pen allows for precise control over the quality of lines, which can vary depending on the pressure applied by the artist.

Types of Inks

Types of Inks

The type of ink used can greatly affect the outcome of your drawing. Here are a few types of inks commonly used in pen and ink drawing.

Waterproof Inks

Waterproof inks are a popular choice for artists who plan to use watercolor or other wet media in their drawings. Once dry, these inks do not smudge or bleed.

Non-Waterproof Inks

Non-waterproof inks, on the other hand, can create interesting effects when combined with water. They are perfect for artists who want to experiment with blending and shading techniques.

Indian Ink

Indian Ink is a fundamental material for pen and ink drawings. It is a type of ink that becomes waterproof when dry, making it ideal for creating lasting artwork. Indian ink is available in bottles of various sizes and an extensive range of colors. A small bottle with a dropper is most suitable for desk use, as the dropper aids in mixing an ink wash precisely.

Choosing the Right Paper

Choosing the Right Paper

The quality of your drawing can also be influenced by the type of paper you use. It’s important to choose a paper that can handle the type of pen and ink you’re using.

Smooth Papers

Smooth papers are ideal for detailed work as they allow the pen to glide easily on the surface.

Textured Papers

Textured papers can add an interesting dimension to your drawings but may not be suitable for detailed work.

Accessories for Pen and Ink Drawing

In addition to pens, inks, and paper, there are several accessories that can enhance your pen and ink drawing experience.

Blotting Paper

Blotting paper is used to absorb excess ink and prevent smudging.

Rulers and Stencils

Rulers and stencils can help in creating precise lines and shapes.

Other Essential Material Materials

Other Essential Material Materials

Proper maintenance of your drawing materials can extend their lifespan and ensure consistent results. Always clean your pens after use and store them in a cool, dry place.


Watercolor paints come in pans and tubes, both of which are suitable for different scales of work. Pans are more convenient for smaller projects, while tubes are better for larger-scale work. Watercolors are available in varying qualities, with the most vibrant and lightfast colors being the most expensive. For our lessons, you may also use colored inks or dyes, which offer more transparency and brightness, though they are generally less lightfast.


A good quality brush is essential for watercolor work. Soft sable hair or high-quality synthetic brushes are the most versatile and durable options. Investing in a good brush ensures it will retain its quality and character over time.


Select any pencil that can be easily erased without leaving marks. Preliminary sketches in pencil are often the foundation for ink drawings, which are later erased to reveal the ink work.


Using smooth paper with a weight of 180 gsm or more is advisable for pen and ink drawings. Lighter paper should be stretched to prevent buckling when wet. High-quality cartridge paper is satisfactory but may be yellow over time. For longevity, smooth HP (hot-pressed) watercolor paper with a neutral pH is preferred.

Techniques: Cross Hatching

Introduction to Cross-Hatching

Hatching is a technique that involves applying tone and texture through rows of parallel lines. Cross Hatching is an advanced method where multiple layers of hatching lines crisscross to create darker tones and intricate textures.

Cross Hatching Examples

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)'Fountain at St. Remy', 1889 (ink on paper)
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)
‘Fountain at St. Remy’, 1889 (ink on paper)

Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Fountain at St. Remy’ (1889) is a prime example of expressive cross-hatching. The method can be executed freehand with carefully drawn lines or mechanically with a ruler. The choice of technique should align with the subject’s nature. Van Gogh‘s spontaneous strokes convey the natural essence of the overgrown garden, while mechanical lines might seem out of place.

Practice with Worksheets

Hatching and Cross-Hatching Examples
Hatching and Cross-Hatching Examples: Download this worksheet.
Cross Hatching Worksheet.
Cross Hatching Worksheet: Download this worksheet.

To master cross-hatching, it is important to practice regularly. We provide worksheets illustrating a range of techniques from rigid to expressive styles. These worksheets help in developing confidence and rhythm in your cross-hatching skills. Draw hatched lines lightly and closely, adjusting the paper angle for comfort rather than changing your body position.

Techniques: Stippling

Introduction to Stippling

Stippling is another technique where tone and texture are created using small dots. The depth and texture can be controlled by varying the density and distribution of the dots.

Stippling Examples

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)'View of Arles', 1888 (ink on paper)
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)
‘View of Arles’, 1888 (ink on paper)

In Van Gogh’s ‘View of Arles’ (1888), stippling is used expressively to depict the texture of a wheat field. Unlike Pointillism, which uses colored dots to form images, stippling is typically combined with cross-hatching to enhance its effect.

Practice with Worksheets

Stippling Example Worksheet.Download an A4 version of this worksheet.
Stippling Example Worksheet.
Download an A4 version of this worksheet.
Stippling Worksheet.Download an A4 version of this worksheet.
Stippling Worksheet.
Download an A4 version of this worksheet.

We offer worksheets to help you practice stippling. These worksheets cover a range of techniques from rigid to expressive, aiding in developing your stippling skills.

Combining Cross Hatching and Stippling

Examples of Combined Techniques

Combining cross-hatching and stippling allows artists to create rich tones and textures. These techniques, used for centuries, can be applied meticulously or freely, depending on the desired effect.

Examples of Combined Techniques

VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)'Harvest Landscape', 1888 (ink on paper)
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)
‘Harvest Landscape’, 1888 (ink on paper)

In Van Gogh’s ‘Harvest Landscape’ (1888), he blends hatching and stippling to create a dynamic, expressive piece. This combination captures depth, texture, and energy, showcasing the artist’s skill and personal vision.

Detailed Analysis of Combined Techniques

Detail 1: Whitby Drawing

Detail 1: Whitby Drawing

A close-up of our Whitby drawing reveals how cross-hatching and stippling enhance tonal and textural effects. Cross-hatching builds up tonal structure, while stippling adds subtlety and texture. This combination is applied to various surfaces, from brick walls to roof tiles, creating a realistic depiction.

Detail 2: Bushes and Surfaces

Detail 2: Bushes and Surfaces

In another detail, varying densities of stippling express the texture of bushes. Combined with cross-hatching, these techniques suggest diverse surface qualities, from metal doors to concrete and brickwork. Applying cross-hatching first is a general rule, followed by stippling for added texture.

Combining these techniques effectively enhances the depth and realism of your pen and ink drawings. Practice and experimentation with cross-hatching and stippling will improve your ability to create detailed, expressive artwork.

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