Pen & Ink & Pencil Drawing

Art Prof Clara Lieu and Guest Teaching Artist Song Kang demonstrate Song’s drawing technique to create effects similar to ink wash using pen & ink, pencil, and matt medium. Song creates a lively, imaginative composition based on textures and forms in nature.

Song begins the drawing by sketching the composition with pencil lines and areas of tone. Next the pencil drawing is coated with matt medium to create a soft, smooth layer that the pen can glide across. Song finishes the drawing with several layers of cross-hatching using pen and ink.


Video Walkthrough

  • Pencil gradients can look like ink wash!
  • Song’s pencil & pen technique actually came from trying to fix mistakes in her pen drawings.
  • Pencil allows for a broad range of values that are easier to control.
  • Song often takes walks in nature as inspiration for textures and forms.
  • Reference objects can be picked up at the grocery store, and be a source of inspiration.
  • Printmaking paper is thicker and more durable than drawing paper.
  • Graphic shapes in the background, like a circle or a square can be created by tracing an object like a bowl or a box.
  • Song switches between drawing line & shading to layer the drawing.
  • Atmospheric perspective is very helpful in terms of emphasizing what’s close and detailed, vs. what is far away.
  • Song draws with her pencils in a specific order, going from hard pencils to soft ones incrementally: 4H, 2H, B
  • Applying Acrylic Matt Medium  to the drawing creates a soft surface in which the pen can “glide.”
  • Eraser types and brands, some people like Prof Lieu are very particular about what they use.
  • Using the eraser flat enables a more smooth erasing pass.
  • Interesting forms happen when you make a mistake, see the potential in that process.
  • Song draws at a very fast pace, despite the tremendous detail in her drawings.
  • What to do when your paper buckles
  • Aim to capture a broad variation of scale in the nature forms in your drawing.
  • Adding graphite over the pen creates cohesion in the tones and value.
  • You can eliminate the sheen of graphite with matte spray on top.
  • There are also UV sprays that will protect your drawing from the sun.
  • Painting gesso in the large circular shape over the background can create a cool color that contrasts against the warmth of the paper.
  • Adding pen over the gesso can be helpful to clean up any lines that got covered by the gesso.

Prof Lieu’s Tips

As an artist, you know many things about your work that you assume other people will know as well, but most often, they don’t look at your work with that information!

That’s one of the reasons why getting feedback from other people on your artwork is so important. Stuff that we don’t even think twice about can be easily misinterpreted. That has nothing to do with your skill as an artist.

When I’m critiquing someone’s artwork, simply the fact that I am not the artist when I look at the artwork makes it possible for me to catch things that the artist may not have been aware of.

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