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Ink Wash Drawings: Modern Myth Illustrations

Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe
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Alex Rowe, Illustrator & Children's Book Artist

Alex Rowe
Illustrator & Children’s Book Artist

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Choose a myth and illustrate it in a contemporary setting. Characters and elements of the story must be recognizable while being contemporary.

Core Ideas

Concept development, character design, narrative illustration

Recommended Tutorials


Any 2D color media: watercolor, colored pencil, soft pastels, etc.

A supply list for ink wash is here.


Choose a myth you want to illustrate (Example shows the Minotaur and Labyrinth)

Research the myth.

Brainstorm and sketch to make the story contemporary. Watch the video below starting at 01:33 for tips on brainstorming.

Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe

Pencil in the image onto your final surface, based on a sketch.

Art Supplies: Pencil
Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe

Outline the image with a Rapidograph pen.

Art Supplies: Rapidograph Pen
Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe

Erase pencil lines.

Art Supplies: White Plastic Eraser
Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe

Add ink wash tones.

For tips on ink wash tones, watch the video below starting at 05:06 min.

Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe

Create a wide range of gradients. For more instruction on how to use ink wash, watch this course. 

Art Supplies: India Ink
Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe
Ink Wash Illustration, Alex Rowe


Clarisse Angkasa, Illustration Student

Clarisse Angkasa
Project Assistant

“I love mythology, so I really enjoyed doing research for this project. It was interesting reading different versions about myths I’m familiar with, and even more interesting to learn more obscure myths I’ve never heard of.

The most challenging part for me was deciding which myth to go with because there were so many that would potentially be fun to recreate in a modern setting. I chose Cerberus and I had so much fun sketching out different types of dogs. I settled with corgi because I wanted to play with the idea of portraying the watchdog of hell as something super cute.

While I’m pretty sure the three-headed dog is recognizable as Cerberus, I added the dog walker with the skull hoodie to allude to Hades. As a project, this was a really fun topic to explore! I can see myself doing a similar project like this again in the future.”

Elsa Hillis

“I decided to illustrate the myth of Atalanta, which I’ve always liked. Long story short, Atalanta, evades marriage by challenging all of her suitors to a footrace with the prize of marriage and the price of death. 

She finally loses to Hippomenes who wins by distracting her with three golden apples. In my modern version, Atalanta is an contemporary Olympian, surprised to find a golden apple on the track and who realizes that she’s been tricked.

I think the crucial thing this project taught me was to pay attention to materials. I used a regular pen and sketchbook paper, which backfired on me when the pen bled and the weak sketchbook paper buckled. Tips to deal with this if it happens to you: work around the “mistakes” by incorporating the ways the pen and paper are acting (for example, using the pen bleeding on purpose as a different texture, etc.), or begin again, this time with the correct materials!”

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