Pen and ink materials and equipment

Here is a list of the materials and equipment I use in my pen and ink and brush artwork.

Pen, nib and holder

Figure 1: Selection of nibs and brushes used for pen and ink drawing

I use a nib dip pen and holder. The nib costs only a few dollars as does the holder.

I prefer a nib that can give a fine line but that with a small amount of pressure will also give a much wider one. I suggest you try a few different nibs till you find the one that most suits the type of pen and ink work you would like to do.

Watercolor brushes

I have a small range of old watercolor brushes that I use to add water to the paper to cause the ink laid down by the pen to bleed and flow. I also use these brushes to paint with ink directly onto my paper.

Watercolor paper used for pen and ink work

For my pen and ink work I like to use Arches Cold Press watercolor paper. Most of my work is on 300 gsm weight paper but I also use 185 gsm, usually when I am travelling as it is lighter.

Cold Press paper has just enough tooth for the nib to grab and give an interesting textured line. I can also use my brush to create additional textures which would not be possible or at least very difficult on very smooth paper. You can see a sample of this type of painting that I do in Fig 2.

Figure 2: Early morning Bridge Street, Melbourne. Pen, ink, and brush painting

Drawing ink

I use black waterproof drawing ink. You can use other colors if you like. It needs to be waterproof however, otherwise it is just the same as painting or drawing with watercolor which would easily lift if rewet.

Other materials for pen and ink drawing

A clutch pencil with a .7mm HB lead. I rarely do any prior drawing before starting my pen and ink drawing but sometimes if there is a key object I want placed just right I may lightly pencil in a few lines to ensure correct placement. In the Early Morning Bridge Street pen and ink and brush drawing which appears above I lightly marked in the location of the tower before starting with my pen and ink work.

A box of plain tissues to quickly mop up ink if needed, either from my paper or from the nib. An old spare towel is also useful for drying the ink on a nib.

Water container for cleaning nib and brushes. Also to dip my old watercolor brushes into to collect water to use to create washes of ink on my paper.

Light stiff board to use as a support for my paper. I use Gator Board as it is very light, smooth and stiff.

Masking tape used to fix my paper to the board.

Watercolor paints

Used when I want to combine watercolor washes with my pen and ink line work. Below you will find a sample of my pen and ink and watercolor wash paintings.

Figure 3: Pen, ink and watercolor wash painting

Happy drawing,

Joe Cartwright