Sketchbook Drawing Tip: Soften your Linework with Diluted Ink
I was out sketching the other day, (at the Montreal Biodome) and wanted to try a slight tweak to my sketchbook drawing method. Nothing too revolutionary – just the simple idea of sketching with diluted ink.
Sometimes I’m in the mood for an aggressive high-contrast drawing. It can be a lot of fun – especially if you’re working quickly (like these 5 min gesture drawings).
But other times I feel like having a black line under a watercolor sketch is a bit overpowering. Of course you can also sketch directly with watercolor (with no drawing at all). But that can be a bit nerve wracking. I find it takes a lot of focus. Or a willingness to draw three drawings and keep only the best one :)
So – this is a bit of a middle ground. A more relaxing way to draw.
I took a small 5ml vial of water and added two drops of Higgins Sepia. This extremely diluted mix gives you a very pale pink ink color
This simple trick has a number of advantages. The line is so pale, I don’t mind using a ‘searching line’. That is, over drawing – sketching very freely, feeling out the form with multiple contours. Sometimes ‘drawing through’. That is – drawing the back side of a form, or how a limb goes behind the body.
Because of the pale-ness of the ink I don’t care so much if the drawing is incomplete, messy, or otherwise experimental.
I know the color to follow will overpower the drawing, rather than ‘color in’ as it might feel with a black ink drawing.
A small note; this is a water soluble ink – so it would normally melt into the watercolor and bias the color. But since it’s diluted already, it doesn’t actually move on the paper any longer. It becomes no longer water-soluble. So that’s just an interesting and unexpected property.
So, there you go! A simple variation on pen-and-ink drawing you might want to try out.