Pen & Ink for Reproduction

Most botanical artists overlook the value of learning pen & ink techniques because they love color and don't feel that it is useful in terms of making a living. The fact is that pen & ink is a very valuable skill even if you don't ever plan on working in black and white. Here are some of the benefits of learning pen & ink:

  • It is inexpensive to reproduce. It is a one color process that is the same price as printing a book with just words. This is why so may botany books and scientific/medical drawing are in black & white. The cost is incidental.
  • You learn to turn the page when you work in pen & ink. Your hand must not be positioned on a wet spot so in order to continue inking, you must turn the page. The way you hold the pen is different from a brush or a pencil.
  • You learn to control the pressure of your hand, mostly your thumb to create thick and thin lines.
  • To create long seamless lines, it is important to learn how to join the lines to look like one long line.
  • Pen & Ink is mostly used in reproduction so you can enlarge your drawing and reduce it later. Reduction of the image makes any wobbly lines minimal.
  • Reducing an image makes you think about your finished size first, rather than it being an after thought. Spot illustration whether color or black and white must fit into the "spot". If the proportions are not correct the rendering will have to be redone.
  • It is a great discipline to learn to get a steady hand which will be needed when painting fine tiny details.
  • The simplicity of the finished drawing makes it a clean "readable" image.

The original drawing was done in 8 x 10 and here it is reduced to 5 x 7 and 4 x 5.5. Look at how the much thinner and refined the lines become when they get smaller. I could never have done the lines this fine on the original.

My first 2 years of working as a professional artist was for a toy company and all I did was Pen & Ink. I like to work on Dura-lar which is the same frosted drafting film that I use for my colored pencil work. I use a crow quill pen, which is the old fashion dip pen. The pen I use is made by Speedball/Hunt and a stiff nib and super fine nib. The ink I prefer is made by FW Acrylic Artists Ink. It is water proof, opaque and has a nice glossy sheen to it. These supplies can be found at DickBlick.

www.DickBlick.com - Online Art Supplies

This leaf is available for purchase through my Etsy Shop: BugsBeastsBotanicals