Learning how to draw with ink very different from pencil drawing. The most obvious difference is that you can no longer rely on your eraser – make a mistake in ink, and you’ll have to find another way to rectify it. Don’t let that put you off, though. Ink drawing can be an incredibly creative process.
Ink drawing techniques can be as delicate or bold as your temperament dictates: it’s all about trying things out. In this article I’ll explain how to get started with ink drawing, from choosing the right equipment and materials, to mastering different techniques.
How to Draw
Use the right grip
Grip the pen close to the tip and keep the angle of the pen at about 45 degrees. Strokes generally start close to your body and move outward. Use your arm and shoulder, not just your wrist.
Practise making marks
Take time to develop your dexterity in pen handling by doing exercises. Practise creating sweeping strokes, bold lines, crisp dashes, delicate dots, curves and straight lines. Make sure you’re able to do each of these vertically, horizontally and on a diagonal.
Traditional pen and ink consists of working with black ink on plain paper, and creating space through thick or thin lines and repeating marks for texture. You want to start with the focal point of your design, and work your way back and out to the less important elements. Your main subject should feature bold, heavy lines and should have the greatest detail and contrast.
Lay down preliminary sketches
There are several approaches for laying out a sketch before using pen. Many artists will sketch with an HB pencil and erase only after the pen work is dry. Comic book and manga artists often use non-photo blue pencils. Alternatively, lightly sketch with a light-warm, grey PITT pen, or sketch with light washes of ink thinned with water.
Vary tone and texture
To convey tone and suggest texture in your ink drawing is all done through the strokes you use. Different types of stroke will each have their own peculiar feel, and varying the weight, direction, and density (whether wider apart or broken up) of strokes can have a big impact. With practice, you’ll learn to use tonal line directions and textures to add points of interest within your composition.
Consider different tools
There are many tools available for drawing in pen and ink, so find the one that best suits your style by experimenting with a few different options. Unless you plan to create subtle washes with a brush, we’d recommend you use waterproof drawing ink. There’s no ‘right answer’ to what to use, of course: it’s all about what kind of ink drawing you want to create.
Try crow quills
Crow quills offer great nuances in lines, from extremely fine to quite wide marks. They need to be dipped into ink, though, which can be messy. If you do go for this option, you want to fill your inkwell up so that when the nib touches the bottom of the well, three-quarters of it is covered with ink. Wipe the nib off every 10 minutes to keep a clean ink flow.
Experiment with a brush or brush pen
Brushes are preferred by many ink artists because they offer greater line control. Press down to create thick fat lines or lift the pen until it’s almost off the page to create tiny, thin lines. Sizes 1-3 provide great variety.
Brush pens are a convenient alternative option as they require no dipping or wiping of the nib.
Consider fine point pens for detail work
Fine point pens produce hard, solid lines. Some artists prefer them to the soft, curved strokes of a brush, but they lack the line variation that crow quills and brushes/brush pens offer, often creating a more mechanical, less expressive drawing.
How to draw animals, people, flowers, landscapes and more.
Whether you want to learn how to draw animals, or you’re pondering how to draw people, or flowers, or even water, we’ve got you covered with this collection of drawing tutorials.
You’ll find pro techniques and tips on how to draw various popular subjects, plus we’ve included some great video tutorials right here in the article, so bookmark it and come back whenever you get stuck, or want to sharpen your drawing skills in another area.
Some of the drawing tutorials here use digital tools, while others focus on traditional methods – but there’s plenty of core skills to learn from both. So no matter what you want to learn how to draw, you’ll find something helpful here.
How to draw animals
01. How to draw a bird
This how to draw a bird tutorial is a step-by-step guide on drawing a side view of a bird, using an American Robin as an example. The lesson begins by explaining the six major body parts to watch for when drawing a bird, before carving out its mass and structure. Finally the guide will cover the fine details, such as the facial features, feet, and most importantly, the feathers. There are also tips on how to draw a bird with its wings open.
02. How to draw a wolf
Learn how to draw a wolf with this easy-to-follow video tutorial
We’re kicking off our how to draw post with the king of all canines – how to draw a wolf. Believe it or not, there are many differences between dogs and wolves, so don’t just assume because you can draw one, you can also draw the other.
In this video tutorial, discover how these canine breeds differ, before walking through the process of drawing a side view of a standing wolf. As a bonus, there’s also instructions on how to add a winter coat for those chillier months.
03. How to draw a dog
Draw a dog that’s realistic and anatomically correct
Not all dogs are alike, but there are some key rules to follow to ensure your dog drawing is realistic and anatomically correct. Kate Oleska offers a simple step-by-step guide to how to draw a dog.
04. How to draw a cat
Top tips for capturing realistic furry felines
The key to capturing a realistic cat is understanding that beneath all that fluffy fur is a solid structure, says Kate Oleska. Follow this easy to follow, step-by-step guide for more helpful advice.
05. How to draw a horse
Draw better horses with a solid understanding of horse anatomy and mechanics
Horses are notoriously difficult to capture. There’s no mass of fur to hide behind, plus, get it wrong and your steed quickly looks laughable. Find out how to draw a horse that looks realistic in this tutorial, which comes with a helpful video.
06. How to draw a bear
Follow this tutorial to draw a realistic bear
Want to learn how to draw a bear that doesn’t look like a teddy? This drawing tutorial offers pro tips for getting the anatomy right, so that you can create a believable bear.
07. Top tips for drawing fur
Use scattering-type texture brushes to blend elements and give the illusion of fur
Fur can be difficult to paint effectively. In this set of pro tips, concept artist Mikaël Léger guides you through how to depict thick black fur on a large beast using Photoshop.
08. How to draw cartoon animals
Discover how to add personality to creatures and characters that will make viewers care
Once you’ve learned how to draw animals, you need to know how to make them work effectively within your paintings. This series of pro tips gives you great insight into drawing cartoon animals with personality, and how to use body language to tell a story with your creatures.
How to draw people
09. How to draw eyes
This narrated step-by-step tutorial for beginners walks through exactly how to draw an eye. It’s easy to follow and will have you drawing realistic eyes in no time – no matter how good (or bad) you are at them now.
10. How to draw faces
Another tutorial for beginners, this video explains how to draw faces from scratch. You’ll learn how to draw female faces and males faces, and you’ll also find out how to demonstrate your characters by making just a few simple changes.
11. How to draw a nose
How to draw a nose
This step-by-step guide shows you exactly how to draw a nose
Noses are notoriously difficult to get right. In this tutorial, Kate Oleska breaks the process down into simple steps. She’s using oils, but the steps are relevant to any medium.
12. How to draw hair
This detailed video walks through how to draw hair. It’s a long video – but you don’t have to watch it in one sitting, and you can fast-forward, too. If you want to find out how other artists draw hair, this is worth a watch.
13. How to draw hands
Many artists struggle to draw hands
Learning to create realistic hands is a stumbling block for many an artist. This fantastic tutorial breaks the process down into easy steps, so you’ll be drawing realistic hands in no time. It also features some bonus tutorials for drawing hands.
How to draw nature
14. How to draw a landscape
Get some top tips for creating an atmospheric landscape in pastels
This tutorial walks though how to create an atmospheric landscape using chalk pastels, including how to create intensity and use highlights effectively.
15. How to draw a rose
A rose by any other name would be just as complicated to draw
You might know how to draw flowers generally, but do you know to draw a rose? It’s one of the most popular flowers around, yet many artists hit a wall when trying to figure it out – here’s a step-by-step guide to nailing how to draw a rose.
16. How to draw water
If you’re looking to learn how to draw water, this super short tutorial has some great tips. Give it a watch if you need to know how to draw realistic drops of water.