KIDS: Visiting Artist - Alex Datzuk - Make a Drawing

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Make a Pen and Ink Drawing

What you will need

  • Paper - 8.5" X 11" Xerox type paper is fine to start. If you get serious about this type of art you will want to use a good art paper. I use water color paper, this helps because a lot of artists like to colorize their drawings, and a lot of nice effects can calm from mixing water color with pen.
  • Pencil - Any sharp pencil will do.
  • Erasure - NEVER USE A "PINK PEARL" type erasure for pen and ink. The pink erasures have "grit" in them and they scratch the surface of the paper and make the Ink smudge and bleed. You need a "Rubber" erasure. They are usually white in color and they don't mar the paper.
  • Black Pen - It is not necessary to use a special pen, but it helps, there are some techniques you can't do without a good pen. You can use a simple ball point to start. I use a special Technical Pen, but they are a little expensive to just experiment with. If you like working with Ink, and you want to do more, you can pick up one of these pens at a local art store. DO NOT USE A FELT TIP PEN THEY BLEED.

Getting Started {Picture of a Pen and Ink Drawing in a Purple Frame}

First you need to make a simple pencil drawing. I usually don't make the drawing to detailed in pencil because you will be going over the lines with a pen later so why do twice the work.

Be careful not to press to hard and scratch the paper. This is just a rough "map" for you to follow with the pen. Draw soft enough so you can just barely see the lines, this will help if you need to erase later. If you need to erase any thing remember not to press hard, and don't over rub and mar the paper.

After you have a drawing you like you can start to ink. Here are a few rules to always remember:

1) If you are right handed always start inking in the upper left hand corner. This is to make sure you don't drag your hand through wet ink. If you are a lefty, start in the upper right.

2) Try not to touch the surface of the paper with your bare hand. The oil from your skin can stop the ink from taking to the paper. If you like to rest your hand on the paper, fold a clean paper towel and place it under your hand.

3) Do not make outlines around every thing. Use the pencil to make the outlines, use the pen to fill the outlines. This is a tip for all art, there are no outlines in life. Look around you do you see a big black outline around every thing? If you use outline here and there that's fine, but the general rule is DON'T OUTLINE.

4) Do not push the pen always pull it. Drag the pen away from the ink never push it through the ink. This is good practice to get into. First it will keep you from dragging your hand through fresh lines. Second if you start to use a tech Pen you can never push it, you will damage a very expensive pen and tear your paper.

5) After you are done inking don't rush to erase the pencil lines, you will smudge the ink. Ball point ink takes a long time to dry. One of the benefits of the Tech Pen method, is that the ink dries in about 30 to 40 seconds and you can erase as you go.

That's about it. With a few tips on patterns you can start your piece right now.


{Image of Six Basic Patterns to Practice} Pattern's are the pen and ink artists colors. If there is a red car, next to a man in a red sweater, on a red bike, and you want to show the difference in them all the pattern's need to be a little different.  Practice making the six basic patterns shown at right.  From top to bottom these are called:

1) Loose cross hatching
2) Straight line crossing
3) Circles
4) Scribble
5) Single direction lines
6) Varied width squiggles

Now, try making some of your own patterns.  You can use your initial's, harts, stars, peace signs, anything that is small enough to create a pattern.  If you need to fill a solid area try to make the pattern as regular as possible.

The way a pen and ink artists needs to fill areas with patterns makes it a little mechanical, you will need to repeat the pattern you choose over and over using the exact same stroke, this is called a "stroke rhythm".

{Image of 9 Squares with increasing percentages by 10} To get into a good rhythm it helps if you understand a little about the squares on the left with percentage numbers.

These squares are filled with the same short slash pattern.  Same shape, same stroke, same rhythm, but they look different. That's because the rhythm has been repeated for a longer period of time. The pattern in the square in the lower right has has been worked on 8 times longer than the square in the upper left. 8 times longer means 8 times darker.

{Pattern image of three circles}

Take a look at the three circles to the right.  All three circles have different fill pattern's the top is "stippled" with dots the second was filled with "tight cross hatching" and the third with "vertical straight lines" note how one looks softer than the other, one looks kind of rusty and dirty, and one looks very round. This is how patterns work to make things look like different materials. You will also notice that the rhythm increases as the in the lower right hand part of the circle this makes it look round and "shades" the object. This is called a gradated tone and is the key to good pen and ink work. If you can make a tone as smooth as the bar at the bottom of this page then you are on your way to great pen and inks.

If you have any questions about Materials, or technique, like what pens and paper I use, you can eMail me at

I am also a private teacher and if you are interested in any at home classes in the art forms I teach, please call 1-860-585-8611. Art is similar to music lessons, I can come to you or you can come to me. There are no age limits to explore the arts, so I have had many adult students.

One more thing, Practice, Practice, Practice, the rewards are great but most important have fun and make good art!

{Image of a gradated tone}

See Alex's Fine Art & Fantasy Gallery

This material is reproduced with the permission of the author/creator and is covered by United States copyright laws. Any copies of this material should contain the author/creator's name and/or original source.


Content Last Modified on 1/2/2007 3:06:11 PM