5 Tips to Help You Master Drawing with Bottled Ink

by Jude Pelletier


Ink in a bottle, a permanent liquid that stains our lives with creative beauty; it's been around for a very long time and used in many ways. For drawing, ink is a fluid medium that is used in full strength black and diluted down to achieve tonal values, after all, life is not always black and white, rather shades of grey. If you’re looking to step up your inking game, let me share with you my tops 5 tips for drawing with bottled ink.


1. Develop a good pencil sketch before starting to ink.


Ink is unforgiving, it’s permanent once down, so I like to have a good sketch to work with. How much detail you include will depend on you. I like to bring my sketch to the point where I know that I’ll have zero “artistic” decisions to make while inking. This works well at the beginning and as you gradually improve your skills, your drawings will loosen and your mind will start inking in the details. *Extra tip, if you’re a heavy sketcher, with loads of lines, lots of erasing, indents, consider drawing on another piece of paper and then transferring it to the paper you ink on. This will keep your final piece as clean as a kitten.


2. Warm-up those inking muscles.


This tip is two-fold. One, warm-up your physical muscles. Inking can be hard and tedious work for underdeveloped inking muscles. So, start by rolling your wrists, your elbows, your shoulders, and stretch your spine. Second, grab a scrap piece of paper and do some quick line exercises; 2-3 minutes is all it takes. Cover your sheet with repeating marks: short, straight, long, curved, circles, thin, thick, just get it all out. I promise this will improve your linework. Aim for consistency, not perfection!


3. There’s NO perfect line - different lines/different impact.


Lines come in as many thicknesses and varieties as species on earth, there is no perfect line weight or style, that said, LINES have an impact. Thin lines may be best at showing detail, light lines for distance, bold lines to pull your attention, dark lines for shadows, curved lines for femininity, and sharp lines for masculinity, and the list goes on. Explore your many lines!


4. Ink your drawing from top left to bottom right.


Unless you’re left-handed, then flip your direction. If you’re like me and countless other artists, you’ve smudged an inked line once or twice in your life, and it sucks pickles! The best way I avoid this is simply to ink from one corner of my composition to the other, never letting my hand go over anything previously inked. I haven’t made a smudging mistake since, only ink blobs.


5. Ink is a wet medium that acts best on thicker papers.


Ink absorbs into paper, unlike dry mediums that sit on the surface of your paper. After many sleepless nights, I’ve discovered that thicker papers such as Bristol board, cardstock, and watercolor papers are made to absorb the ink properly without feathering or warping my work. So my friends, please remember to always test your paper before inking your final piece. Choose wisely and happy inking!


You can follow me on Instagram @judes.artsdesk and watch me do art stuff on YouTube, at Judes Artsdesk https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGSl_RiuHIlye3uuXA6MUKg




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