Introduction to Dotwork (Stippling) Technique in Ink

Articles & Drawing Tutorials, Drawing With Ink, Video

Today, I’d like to talk about a very powerful technique for graphic art and tell you about the basics and practical tips. Dotwork, also known as stippling, is an amazing method of creating visual effects in ink drawings.

Note: dot art is also known as pointillism. ūüôā

This technique is simply magical! With the use of dotwork, you can create smooth transitions of value in your drawing and make velvety textures with the highest eye appeal.

In short, all you have to do is to leave dots on paper. The more dots you add, the darker the area of your drawing becomes.

Let’s have a look at the image below. It’s a visual representation of the difference how can look samples of dotwork depending on the width of the tool it was made with.


From left to right: dotwork samples made with ink liners of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.8, 1.0 widths. The last sample from the lower row is a variety of dots made with 0.4, 0.5 and 0.8 ink liners.

A combination of dots of various dimensions looks quite impressive. This simple trick also helps to refine the details of the texture. However, it’s necessary to see to it that your dots are of a predictable width, not random. In other words, you have to control the drawing process and learn how to draw with your tool with equal pressure onto the paper. This habit builds up with deliberate training.

If you want to practise the stippling technique, you can make visual borders on a paper sheet (like my circles above) or download my worksheet and fill them with dots. Very simple!

For a start, use a pen or a liner of a constant width (0.3 Р0.5 is absolutely awesome).

Then, when you feel more comfortable, try to achieve basic graphic effects like om the last circle of my drawing. Let your sample be darker on the perimeter and lighter at the center. Looks more volumetric, right? ūüôā

A video for your reference –¬†here you can see how I make an illusion of depth and volume with additional layers of dots. Very simple yet persuasive!

As another exercise, I can suggest you increasing the value with the help of different liners. Like here:dotwork-stripeThis stripe begins with very small dots made with a liner of 0.1 width, then it proceeds to 0.2 liner dots, then 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.8 and, at last, 1.0 width.

What kind of tool is the best for creating dotwork?

There is no exact answer. I personally prefer ink liners and pens (non-refillable). They form dots of a predictable width, and there is no danger of having an occasional drop of ink on your drawing – like it happens with nibs.

I don’t recommend¬†using refillable technical pens (rapidographs and isographs). Stippling is a method that wears off and¬†blunts the tip of the tool faster than hatching technique. It isn’t so noticeable when your tool is¬†disposable, but if it is “everlasting” and quite expensive, this can be a problem.

You can also use nibs for creating dotwork. But it’s necessary to get used to nibs and learn how to control the pressure – then you dots will be of equal and predictable size.

A video for your reference (here I use both a 0.5 liner and a nib)

Useful tips for a great stippling 

  • Small details actually make a difference. Even the shift and twist of the paper on your desk¬†relatively to you hand affects the character of your dots. The same goes for the angle of your tool relatively to the paper (try to vary it, and you will see).
  • Make light touches with the tool onto the paper. If you¬†exert you hand while drawing, it won’t make any good. If you have to create big bold dots, it’s a better idea to take a tool with a wider tip that makes such dots naturally.
  • Try to place your dots a bit chaotically – this texture feels more natural. Sometimes it’s necessary to¬†keep order and place dots in an even row, but these cases are relatively rare.
  • Learn how to make dotwork that way, so it looks uniform, without considerable gaps. Of course, not every texture in your drawing will be that solid, but the skill of creating¬†integral stippling texture is very useful in any artistic arsenal.

As a conclusion, I would like to encourage you¬†to¬†practise dotwork and experiment with it. I usually don’t use this technique singly but mix it with lines and hatching (these are more straightforward, concrete, and sometimes even aggressive).

Dots work great in combination with other drawing manners! For example, I use dotwork when:

  • some object of my drawing has an even subtle texture,
  • the object I draw is light,
  • I want to emphasize the shadow,
  • the overall look of the artwork needs some integrity,
  • the surface of the object or place in my drawing is plain or velvety,
  • there are thin and refined details,
  • I draw something blurry.

These are some samples how I combined hatching and dotwork:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A bonus for you: if you are intersted in practising stippling, you can download this worksheet:¬†worksheet-previewI hope this guide was useful and informative! Good luck with practising this wonderful art technique! ūüôā

As usual, I’d like to know if I there is something I can help you with. What is your biggest struggle in mastering drawing with ink and liners?

Thank you for reading! And please, like and share this post with your friends who could be interested in these tips ūüėÄ

7 thoughts on “Introduction to Dotwork (Stippling) Technique in Ink

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