Pen and Ink Drawing of Magnolias

Recently I did this demonstration of a pen and ink drawing of Magnolias. Technically this is as much a painting as it is a drawing but for now I will continue to call it a drawing. The demonstration was videoed and a speeded up version of it has been posted on YouTube. A link to the video appears below. I have produced this article to help you understand the basic steps I used in this pen and ink drawing.

Reference photo for Magnolias pen and ink drawing

This photo is of some blooms on our Magnolia tree – a favourite of my wife. Please use it as a reference if you’d like to have a go at this pen and ink drawing demonstration yourself.

Reference photo for demonstration of pen and ink drawing of Magnolias

Reference photo for demonstration of pen and ink drawing of Magnolias

The photo has strong tonal changes (light going to dark and vice versa) which always attracts me in a scene.

Materials Used

Permanent Black Ink – Art Spectrum brand but any permanent ink should work as well.

Dip Pen and holder – the nib I use is a Hunt 99 model (the nib and holder only costs a few dollars)

Arches 300 gsm, cold pressed, watercolour paper. Dimensions are: 37cm x 27cm or 14.5” x 10.5”

Filled water container.

Backing board and tape.

Starting Pen and Ink Drawing

I tackle a drawing like this by first having a clear idea in my mind where I am going to place an object before I touch the paper. This is very important with pen and ink drawings as once you place a mark it is very hard to remove it.

Next I decide quite early roughly how big I want the finished drawing to be. In this case I am working from a photograph that is a quarter the size of my paper which means that the photo is approximate half the length or width of my watercolour paper. Consequently if I want to cover my whole paper with my pen and ink drawing then I need to approximately double all the dimensions of my image. I do this mentally as I do not care if the result is exact or not.

So my first line is near the top left hand corner of my watercolour sheet. I start by outlining a single petal making sure to stop where the line intersects with another petal – this is very important.

Starting a pen and ink drawing of magnolias

I start this pen and ink drawing of magnolias at the top left hand corner

Before this first outlined petal dries I use a wet brush to soften its edges and let some of the ink bleed over the petal shape to give it form.

Before the outlines dries I use a wet brush to wet the petal area and let some of the ink bleed to give the petal form.

Before the outlines dries I use a wet brush to wet the petal area and let some of the ink bleed to give the petal form.

I continue in this fashion till the first flower is nearly complete. I move from petal to petal making sure that adjoining petals are dry so the ink does not flow into one another unless I want it to.

I continue with my pen, ink and brush till the first flower is nearly completed.

I continue with my pen, ink and brush till the first flower is nearly completed.

With the first flower nearly completed I added the stem at its bottom which connects it to the next magnolia flower. I stop the stem where it will intersect with the next flower.

I add the stem to the Magnolia flower using my pen, ink and brush.

I add the stem to the Magnolia flower using my pen, ink and brush.

Continuing my pen and ink drawing, I make my way down and over my paper, making adjustments to tones as needed. I felt the arrangement needed another flower bud on the right hand side for balance so I added it.

I added an additional magnolia flower bud on the right hand side for balance.

I added an additional magnolia flower bud on the right hand side for balance.

Adjustments are made as needed till my pen and ink drawing was completed.

 I continued making adjustments to my pen and ink drawing as needed.

I continued making adjustments to my pen and ink drawing as needed.

Here is a photo of my finished pen and ink drawing:

Pen and ink drawing of Magnolias by Joe Cartwright

Pen and ink drawing of Magnolias by Joe Cartwright

If you would like to see a 5 minute speeded up version of my doing the above pen and ink drawing please have a look below.