Direct-to-Ink Exercises: Part One: Single Line Sketching
These projects are designed to be quick jolts of inspiration. Something you can do in under an hour.
Each one is a visual/perceptual game. Just have fun playing with them, and see what you can do. Don’t worry too much about the results – these are aimed at fun and relaxation.
Although, I hope at the same time, they will get into your subconscious and help you be more spontaneous, more ready to just throw down and make a sketch in a few moments.
You will not need any special supplies. Just a drawing pen and a brush pen. Any brand will do (but I do have supply notes here).
These types of sketches all work very well with watercolor (because, that’s my ultimate goal – drawing methods that translate well into painting). But for the first few times, don’t worry about tinting your sketches. Just concentrate on feeling what it’s like to draw quickly with confidence.
Direct to Ink Exercise: Single Line Sketching
- In this exercise we’ll be sketching with a continuous line.
- We’ll do five sketches in 20 minutes. Work small. 4×6″ or 5×7″ would be great.
- When you start drawing, don’t allow yourself to pick up the pen point. Make the sketch in a single, uninterrupted line.
- Keep the pen moving, letting the line flow between objects, cross forms, and break out of shapes.
- Finish the line drawing with the brush pen, placing darks in trees, windows, and cast shadows.
- It’s best to work on location (you can see so much more looking around), but if you want to draw at home, Google Street View or Image Search are good resources.
- This probably won’t be easy at first – but that’s ok! You are learning with every sketch. The more you do, the faster you learn.
- See how far you can get with one uninterrupted line.
- Feel free to leave things out – edit reality.
- You can pause your pen and study what’s going on before continuing.
- If you accidentally lift – just keep going where you left off. Don’t be too strict.
- Work left to right, leave negative shapes, break forms, join shapes, connect objects to the ground.
- Use overlapping objects to move the line back and forth in space.
- Have FUN with it!
Direct to Ink Exercise: Cinq-à-Sept Sketches (5-7 lines)
- After a few rounds of Single Line Sketches, your drawing hand should feel more relaxed.
- Now try a slightly larger drawing with more detail. 6×9″ or 8×10″.
- Aim to get three drawings in 45 minutes.
- Don’t lose the feeling of flowing lines and rapid observation.
- This time: allow yourself 5 to 7 continuous lines. One line for each major object or passage in your drawing.
- The limit is meant to keep the drawing fresh. Don’t worry too much about the exact count.
- Establish a central shape in a few lines, then do the background with another line or two. Save a couple of lines for people, cars, and small objects in the foreground.
- Remember to weld shapes when possible, to reduce the number of objects. Feel free to leave out detail in areas away from the focus.
- Reduce distant figures and street clutter to brush marks and floating squiggles.
- Save some time to go back and add darks with the brush pen.
- These drawings will look great with color but don’t stop sketching yet. Paint them after you get three in 45 minutes. Often I’ll paint in a café when I’m taking a break to eat.
- If you are spending a day on location, see if you can get 8-10 sketches in an afternoon of sight-seeing.