How to start sketching in pen

Sketching in pen can create visually interesting drawings in your sketchbooks.

While the first thought of sketching in pen is fine, hyperrealistic drawings. Most artists have a more enjoyable drawing experience when they keep your pen drawings loose and spontaneous. In fact, sketching in pen is a great way to learn how to stay loose in your drawings.

Drawing in a tight, realistic way leaves you open to the fear of making a mistake. I encourage you to embrace sketching in pen for the beautiful mistakes and misplaced lines you create. It'll help you daily drawing and create interesting drawing ideas.

Essentially, every line communicates your thought process and mood while you are drawing. It's forever recorded on paper.

Why draw with pens

When I draw animals, I enjoy focusing on drawing movement. Pencils and other erasable media give you a safety net. They allow you to make mistakes.

When you begin drawing, you will make mistakes. When you draw for years and years, you will still make mistakes. You have to get rid of this “mistake” mindset. Drawing with a pencil allows you to fix your mistakes. Which will slow down your learning process.

Instead of drawing, you'll find yourself more focused on erasing than you are on drawing.

There's nothing wrong with mistakes. When you are learning, record these mistakes. Embrace what you did wrong.

Sketching in pen makes you more confident in the marks you make. You are problem-solving as you sketch. Making decisions on how your hands record what you're looking at.

Pencils make you less conscious about the marks you're making in your drawings.

Sketching in pen makes you more aware of each mark. Therefore, less likely to make mistakes.

A Japanese calligraphy is an art form entirely based on making confident lines. You don't excel in Japanese calligraphy by sketching and erasing in pencil first. And then, going over it in ink. You learn to become increasingly confident in your lines.

Also, when you're sketching in pen, you can embrace the sketchy qualities like construction lines. For instance, you should aim to openly record your discovery lines. Making these lines a part of your aesthetic.

Here are some techniques for making an ink drawing more of an enjoyable drawing adventure.

Let's get started.

Sketching pen tools

To bring your pen drawings to life, you'll need a variety of pens to bring your drawings to life.

I recommend have a variety of pens at hand.

From the classic Bic ballpoint pen, pens with water-soluble ink to make washes more interesting. Pens without water-soluble ink to keep your lines permanent while still applying a water wash or watercolor. Marker pens and more inky fountain pens.

You can view my recommended drawing pens here.

Each pen has it's own purpose and way of drawing. For example, markers are great for larger drawings and drawing shadows. They cover a lot of space efficiently. Big Prismacolor markers and Sharpies work great for this.

While Bic pens and other ballpoint pens are great for thoughtful sketchbook drawings that aren't too large.

Inkier pens are perfect for quick sketching.

Each of the different types of pens has its own unique characteristics.

All capable of unique drawing techniques and helping you find your creativity in drawing.

Holding the pen

The first mistake you might make while sketching in pen is holding the pen too tight. This bad habit comes from a lifetime of using pens to write words.

Now pens are for drawing, not writing. First, hold your pen higher up, just below to middle. This will help you create more confident marks.

Holding your drawing pens this way will more looseness to your drawings. If you're creating a large drawing, hold your drawing pens more towards the back. Essentially, by changing your drawing grips, you're going to create more fluid lines and confident strokes.

A great drawing technique to use with sketching in pen is the contour drawing.

Ink and watercolor washes

A perfect way to add interest to sketching in pen is by adding watercolor washes. 

Depending on the pens you're sketching with, pay attention to what type of ink they have. It'll either be water-soluble or permanent. This will tell you how your ink drawings will react if you apply water, and ink wash, or watercolors. Obviously, the water-soluble will bleed and be affected by the water. This can make for an interesting look.

After you apply water in any form to your water-soluble ink, don't be afraid to go back over it with pen to redefine the forms in your sketches.

When you a little bit of water, your ink lines will react and blur.

If you're simply looking to add soft shadows and values to your drawings, you'll like ink washes.

The value you brush onto your ink sketch is determined by your water to ink ratio. Essentially, you'll have to experiment with your favorite way to apply the

Enjoy the process of sketching in pen

Ultimately, sketching in pen should be enjoyable. It's a process that will never get old. Especially, if you have a collection of easy drawing ideas to fill your sketchbooks.

Drawing is a medium where you should embrace the imperfections made by the human hand. Don't hide your thought lines and “mistakes.

Accept them as part of your drawing.

These imperfections are what make drawing a drawing. Each of the lines you make is a record of the thought process and energy you had in the moments of creating your drawings.

Essentially, it shows the path you took toward your final sketch.