Drawing with Dip Pen and Ink. Marks

Many artists today, including me, draw with liners. They are smudge proof, waterproof and allegedly lightfast. They provide you with a constant flow of ink, they are not messy and easy to transport. Drawing with liners looks more like etching. It can be brought to the level of fine art and it is something I’m exploring and I will share with you.

But for the moment I prefer the dip pen. Because the line is not uniform, it allows a higher expressiveness than a liner. Devoid of colour or even tonal nuances and with its infinite variations is just that: expression through mark. Everything about who you are in that moment is visible: your abilities, your mood, your personality.

Also it is probably the most direct medium. You can’t hide the direction of the line you made, the pressure and the speed. Every mark you make is there for everybody to see. You can fade it, but you can’t erase it. That means you have to be very careful with every line you draw? No, because that it defies the very purpose for which you draw with ink.

Yet one problem a beginner faces is the low quality of the line and of the hatching. The line is thin when it should be thick and vice versa, the curved line is shaky or not as curved as one wanted it, the hatch is uneven and in the end the drawing will reflect how insecure and inexperienced is the hand that created it.

That’s why you have to train your hand in doing marks, to internalize them and, just like a piano player, to think about the music and expression not the mechanical thing of hitting the keys or drawing the line. 

In the video I uploaded on Patreon, I show you some of the most important exercises for practicing marks. I’ve done just one of each, but you can fill an entire page with every exercise or with the ones that you find to be more difficult. Don’t rush and get into the habit of repeat them from time to time even when you started to do finished drawings.


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