Learning How to Draw With Ink (And Why This Technique Is So Wonderful)

Articles & Drawing Tutorials, Drawing With Ink

I often get questions about the ink technique; people want to know the basic steps of learning how to draw with ink or ink liners (meaning black and white graphics). Honestly, I find such questions amazing, so I decided to write a post on this topic.

My article is aimed mostly at beginners in the drawing, but I feel like the principles I’m talking about are common for various artistic mediums and different cases of starting something new.

The Magic Of Black Ink

You may ask “Why is it worth honing this particular skill? Why this medium?”

That’s a great point, thank you! Here are some of my reasons why I love ink so much.

1. Ink Medium Is Extremely Powerful and Multivariant

You can create quick 5-minute sketches to grasp something noticeable you see around, and you also may perform a large-scale drawing full of tiny details that causes a wow-effect and rejoices the viewers.

And that’s with just a pen – or a couple of pens. The only limit is your skill and imagination.

A great creative ability to have at your disposal, isn’t it?

We can create quick both five-minute sketches like “what I have for breakfast” and large-scale art with lots of details

2. Drawing With Ink Makes You More Intelligent, Self-disciplined and Logical

I mean it! You also become more observant and attentive because in a case with ink, you don’t have much space for correcting mistakes.

Of course, there are relatively nice ways for saving your drawing if you, for example, accidently smudged the ink, but there is definitely no Ctrl+Z solution.

However, if you are focused on the drawing instead of thinking about all the possible mistakes, there are many chances that it will be successful.

By the way, I have a post you may be interested in:

How to Fix Mistakes and Make Corrections In Ink Art

3. You Become More Balanced

You learn how to trust yourself, placing another spontaneous and vivid ink line onto paper.

It is a point when you find a balance between control and variance, the foresight and acceptance of what you are getting. A real life is similar to the drawing process; you plan, take responsibility and act, but you aren’t the only one who is in charge of the result.

4. You Find the Focus

Using only black ink, you focus on the important and cut off the secondary things. Over time, your attention becomes sharp as a laser.

This ability is extremely valuable in the real life (who isn’t multitasking nowadays?), let alone just art.

Sometimes I draw using color (like with colored pencils or in Photoshop), and, must say, it is an entirely different mindset – comparing to the times when I draw with black ink or ink liners. I stay the same person but show other facets of my personality.

5. You Become More Receptive To the World

Mastering your ink skills, you enhance your tactile sensitivity.

In the ink technique, much depends on the textures. To create a credible-looking illusion of some surface, you need to have a sensation of it in the real life. Or if it doesn’t exist, you may be able to imagine how it feels.

I hope my list made you interested – or maybe even more interested than you were before reading it. So let’s talk about the necessary steps to begin with the ink medium – or to master it if you wish.

A Special Tool or Just Hard Work?

First of all, ink technique is just a method of applying the tools. You can’t buy a special type of ink or a unique ink pen that will do all the work instead of you. Even if is very qualitative and expensive…

A great misconception that many beginners in the art have, is that a specific tool can make somebody a skillful ink artist or it will accelerate the learning progress by ten times.

Or – that the masters are so great just because they use some unique equipment beyond the reach of “ordinary people”.

This belief is harmful because it doesn’t provide the encouragement to take a real action. A person is just waiting for some miracle that happens as soon as he or she buys something “really cool”. 🙂

But if this same person begins with the skill and practice, he or she will discover that any kind of inks or a pen of any brand serves pretty well.

Don’t get me wrong here; I don’t urge anybody to buy the cheapest inks, paper, and pens available at the market (“what’s the point to spend more money..?”)

The best option is to find a balance between your budget and the purposes how you are going to use the supplies.

For hatching exercises, you can get by with inexpensive inks and paper – you will throw out the used paper sheets after the practice, so what’s the point in having best kinds of supplies for it?

If you are going to create an artwork, then put it under a glass and hang on a wall, you probably want to use better materials that will keep the freshness and steadiness of the pigments.

Of course, almost every artist with the course of time finds some tools and brands that he or she finds the most comfortable, fitting the personal preferences. But in such cases, the creative ability becomes independent from the choice of the tools – this artist, basically, can draw with anything in sight.

Personally, I prefer using qualitative materials for creating artworks, and I don’t grudge the money on them. I also have brands and supplies that are relatively more favorable for my drawing process, but I as a teacher would never put the materials question above the skill development.

You can also be interested in this article:

Why You Don’t Need a Bunch Of Ink Liners to Create Great Art or Learn How to Draw

What Do I Actually Need to Know?

The real magic of inking happens, when a person has the following things in place:

  • A basic background in drawing.

You have to know how to render objects you see or imagine on a paper sheet, using, for example, an ordinary graphite pencil.

It is also great if you are closely familiar with the principles of perspective, composition, proportions, the light and shadow relationships – and other things that an artist should be aware of.

  • The ability to analyze the life around you and understand how these objects would look from the point of value.

In other words, it is all about making the mental notes what objects are darker and what are lighter, where is the light source, how the three-dimensional look of the objects is forming.

If this seems difficult to you – don’t worry, this habit can be developed with some practice. It also relates to the basic art skills and experience.

  • A little bit of patience.

To create a drawing with ink or ink liners, you have to put aside some time and devote your attention to the process.

Drawing with ink is usually a more refined and time-consuming process than just throwing a bucket of paint into canvas 😀

However, when you really like working with this medium, the time flies insensibly. You just relax and enjoy it.

As for me, I sometimes feel much more strained when I do all the preparation work (developing the idea, making pencil sketches, creating a full-scale underdrawing) than during those 40+ hours of inking an artwork of the A2 size.

  • The willingness to make, try, experiment, practice.

It is said that if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. This is also true about mastering the ink technique.

The more you practice, the better you get. It’s a matter of time you spend on your craft and the conscious attitude.

This means you have to pay more attention to the important things you can’t do really good – instead of repeating something that is easy for you again, again and again.

There Is No Shortcut

Maybe everything I said seems overwhelming to you; that’s completely OK if you are a beginner in art.

Artists – and people in general – who have an experience in the things they learned how to do well, know that honing a skill or acquiring a habit requires much time and effort. Nobody was born with their incredible attainment.

There can’t be a magical shortcut that allows you to become a master without hard work and patience, so it is impossible to look through a couple of online tutorials and instantly transform into a skilled professional.

Anything that may seem easy, isn’t easy in actual fact! And any skill that is worth having requires much hard work.

But here is a good news: by developing a skill you become better as a person. You learn how to be more attentive, humble in a good way, patient, and believing in yourself. You master the life of going an extra mile and being a winner – a person who makes others surprise and wonder, how this was even possible.

This path is not for everybody, as long as most people just want a magical solution. But those who dare, take all the prizes, and the creative freedom when you can depict anything you see or imagine.

Mastering any art technique is not a simple and fast process; however, it can be easier. Can you feel this subtle difference? 🙂

How is it possible? By knowing your goal the exact way how to reach it. And where you can get help.

Let me be frank with you: I don’t see enough sense in paying much attention to the basic stuff, regarding learning the ink technique itself. If you know how to hold a pen and dip it into ink or how to leave marks on paper, using an ink liner, you are ready to go.

Of course, there are important concepts of a line variation, hatching, stippling and so on, and I’m going to publish a post about these and explain the basic principles of warming up. So please pay attention to the updates. (By the way, I already have a great post on the ink dotwork technique and some other articles)

But if you have a pen or an ink liner, you can start drawing whatever you see, practicing, doing quick sketches, and learning through real experience, not just a theory or observance of other people’s work.

The more you draw and the more observant you are, the better you get.

At the same time, it is very helpful to learn the art fundamentals in general – how to apply the rules of composition and perspective, convey the play of light and shadow, volume, texture.

I highly recommend learning how to construct objects you are drawing, not just copying with a subsidiary tool like tracing paper or outlining the contours.

Ink technique is like a superstructure that bases on your fundamental art skills. If there aren’t any, everything falls apart.

Evolving as an artist is a life-long journey. You get better with every day, week, month and year – if you keep your eyes open and practice.

Ink Drawing Education Online

There are many online courses and information of all kinds on the ink technique; I’ve watched and read a plenty of them – doing the homework is important for every teacher. 🙂

Those materials are great, it is such a joy to see the process of other skilled artists who love working with ink. 🙂 Most of the materials I saw are oriented on a beginner level, they show the basics, inspire and encourage to take action.

But what exact steps should somebody undertake after completing a course? What’s next? How to find the right path for practicing and then – where to look for more specialized tips and tricks?

And, what is really important, how to stay inspired when something goes not so smoothly or new ideas just don’t come to mind?

Of course, it is possible to store up personal artistic experience, but it literally takes years of drawing and making all kinds of mistakes. It feels sad; many people try to master drawing techniques by themselves and soon quit.

In one of the previous posts, I mentioned that now a great part of my time is devoted to teaching: I write new articles and tutorials, think over new illustrated materials and videos. Most of the work is still behind the scenes; I share only a part of what’s going on, and there is still a lot to do.

I really want to be helpful and reveal the principles I use in my work. I’ll do my best to publish new materials as frequently and consistently as possible (or as my other projects allow me to).

I’d also like to create something that will work for people who already know how to hold a pen and are closely familiar with the basics of drawing. (It feels like I’m talking about the intermediate/advanced level?)

You will be as great as your willingness to practice, and I’ll show you everything I learned. It is said that the best way to learn something is to teach it. 🙂

Thank you for reading this long article – and stay tuned!

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