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Drawing patterns with a dipping pen and ink

how to draw designs with a dipping pen and ink
Drawing / Ink / Painting technique / Step by step demonstrations

Drawing patterns with a dipping pen and ink

Using a dipping pen and ink to add patterns to your artwork can seem a bit intimidating at first but it is very easy to draw with a pen and it has many advantages.

You might also be interested in: Landscape Watercolor painting with zentangles : Rainforest Imagery

I like to add patterns with a dipping pen and ink

I like to add patterns in my works.

In my work, I am more and more interested in incorporating patterns and repetitive designs into my paintings and drawings. I started by adding patterns with markers and then moved on to using pen and ink for the following reasons:

  • You don’t have to buy a new marker for each color you want to use, you can make your own mixes with fluid acrylic or ink.
  • Markers you are using on your artworks have to be archival and acid free and that might not always be the case.
  • Markers tends to have a short life span
  • When working with fluid acrylic, you can be sure that your designs will be waterproof and won’t smudge if you decide to paint over them.
  • Pen and ink is a very affordable,versatile, low cost medium
  • Pen and ink works well to add design in white on top of a lighter color.

I still love working with markers, especially when drawing outside or when travelling as they have the advantage of being more portable than pen and ink.

Supplies
You can draw with pen and ink on a canvas surface.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Speedball Sketching Project Set

This calligraphy pen and nib set gives you the tools needed to create beautiful works of art. Ideal for drawing, crosshatching, lithography, and fine details. Includes two plastic pen holders and six nibs.

You can draw with pen and ink on a canvas surface.

You can draw with pen and ink on a canvas surface.

you can build complex patterns step by step
  • A drawing pen
  • Nibs
  • Fluid acrylic or ink.
  • The traditional ink for pen and ink is India ink, I am using it when I want to draw in black and don’t need the designs to be waterproof.

My favorite nib is the speedball 512 Bowl Pointed, but you can try different nibs and see what you think works the best for your style.

Speedball 512 bowl pointed nib

Speedball 512 bowl pointed nib

add a few plastic beads to your fluid acrylics containers

Tip: You can add a few plastic beads to your fluid acrylics containers so you get a more homogeneous mix when you shake the container.

Dipping pen and ink techniques

Pull on your pen and don’t push as this would result into spatters. It seems easier to draw with pen and ink when you hold your pen a bit closer to the nib.

If you are having trouble making a line, try to vary the angle between the pen and your surface, sometimes holding your pen more parallel to the surface makes it work better, it increases also the risk of spills, so you have to find the angle that works the best for you.

Wash your pen and nib after each session, particularly if you are using fluid acrylic. Some acrylic might accumulate on the nib over time and you might have to change it after a while, but they are very cheap to buy and you can buy only the nib.

drawing with a dipping  pen and ink on yupo paper

It is very pleasant to draw with pen and ink on yupo paper as the surface is very sleek.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Liquitex Professional Acrylic Ink

Liquitex Professional Acrylic Inks are extremely fluid colors that contain super-fine pigments suspended in a state-of-the-art emulsion. Quick-drying, permanent, water-resistant, and non-clogging, they’re ideal for a variety of techniques. – Essential Colors, Set of 6

Surfaces you can draw on with a dipping pen and ink

I am using pen and ink on paper, canvas and board prepared with gesso, although the gessoed board is not the most convenient surface for pen and ink as the texture is a bit gritty.

It works well on paper and canvas and really well on yupo paper as the surface is very sleek on yupo paper.

Pen and ink works well on canvas.

Pen and ink works well on canvas.

Some ink spilled!

If you act fast, you should be able to clean up any spills on canvas.

If you act fast, you should be able to clean up any spills on canvas.

If you act very fast, especially on a surface like canvas or board or yupo paper and take off the spill with a tissue paper, you should be fine.

Drawing with a dipping pen and ink in combination with brushes

For some designs you can start by drawing a grid and an outline with pen and ink

For some designs you can start by drawing a grid and an outline with pen and ink.

For some designs you can start by drawing an outline with pen and ink.

Then fill out the spaces with a small brush.

you can use pen and ink to add details to a mixed media painting

You can use pen and ink to add details in a mixed media piece.

flower painting from imagination with patterns drawn with a dipping pen and ink

In Tombouctou, mixed media on yupo paper mounted on board.

or to add zentangle inspired designs to an acrylic painting.

or to add zentangle inspired designs to an acrylic painting.

zentangle forest


Imagined Reality, acrylic on canvas, Sandrine Pelissier

Have you tried a dipping pen an ink on your artworks, did you like it?

Comments (21)

  1. Machiko

    Hi Sandrine. I love your blog and the book “painting imaginary flowers”. After reading them I became a big fan of you and of a dipping pen! How many [nib+holder] do you have and use when you paint? I have only 2 sets of them and I have to wash and wipe them when I use more than three colors at one. I’m just curious and want to know how you do. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Machiko, 🙂
      I have a few sets but I purchased them for students so they can try the pen when I have a class. For my personal use, just one set is enough and I change the nib every couple months.

      1. Machiko

        Thank you for letting me know your way! Looking forward to your new post 🙂

  2. Nancy Blasi

    Thankyou. This post helped me with then basics of getting started with a fountain pen and acrylic paint. It turns out I have pinned some of your work on Pinterest. I love the layers you get in your work.

  3. Wanda

    Sandrine, thank you for the time and effort you put into your posts. The photos and simplicity of your layout is super easy to follow and so relevant to my art practice :))

    1. Thank you so much Wanda for you nice comment 🙂

  4. sallysil06701600

    Hi Sandine, the only books I could find with Zentangle patterns are all very complicated designs. Do you have a source for simpler patterns? Thank you.

    1. Hello Sally,
      A good source of designs and ideas for me is Pinterest. You can check my board here :https://www.pinterest.com/paintingdemos/zentangle-and-patterning-inspirations-idées-de-zen/ or just type zentangles in the search bar.

  5. bevsparks2798556000

    Hi Sandrine. Thanks for all the tips and goodies you’ve shared on your blog. Awesome! Do you have a FB group for the Painting Flowers class? I’ve completed 2 canvases in a week. Love the class. Bev

    1. Thanks Bev, I am happy to hear you liked the class:) We have a page here where I post all the paintings from the class: https://paintingdemos.com/share-your-paintings-from-the-painting-flowers-from-imagination-in-mixed-media-here/. If you email me pictures of your paintings at contact@paintingdemos.com I will add them to the page.

  6. breen.michelle24361085200

    I am learning so much in your class! Thank you for all the tips and inspiration!

    1. Thank you very much Michelle !

  7. fran spencer

    Thanks

  8. Ronny

    A lot of great information! Thanks for providing it. I am curious about your preference(s) in markers. What brands do you use? Which are your favorites? Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Ronny 🙂 I like the Sakura Pigma micron markers and also the oil based and water based sharpies, not the regular sharpies that are not acid free.

      1. Nancy

        About the sharpies: When do you use the oil-based and when do you prefer the water-based? Thanks!

        1. I like both, the water based might be easier to use though as you don’t need to worry about using them last (You are not supposed to paint wit acrylic on top of oil) but I like the texture of the oil based ones better.

  9. Gorgeous work-and lots of fun to see your process.

    1. Thanks a lot Lynn 🙂

  10. Diane O

    This was so helpful! Thank you for the easy-to-follow instructions and tips.

    1. Thanks Diane! I am very happy you did find it useful 🙂

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