Pen and Ink Techniques: Watercolor Wash

Sofala Pen, Ink and Watercolor Wash Demonstration

There are many pen and ink techniques you can use, this one looks at how to use a watercolor wash with your pen and ink. In a pen, ink and wash painting such as this the sharp edges created are primarily produced with the pen and ink. The soft edges in the painting are made by the watercolor under painting. In other techniques using pen and ink and brush, the soft edges are produced with ink and a brush.

This demonstration is of Sofala, a little country village in New South Wales. Sofala once used to be a thriving gold rush town but now it is a quite rural setting that is well worth a visit if you are driving in that direction.

Reference photo of Sofala NSW

Fig 1: Sofala, NSW

Required materials for pen, ink and wash demonstration

Dip pen and permanent black ink. Tissues, old towel, small water container. Solid (stable) holder of ink – I use an old glass candle stick holder that a friend gave me.

Fig 2: Equipment for Pen and Ink Technique section of this painting

Watercolor paints: French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Aureolin, Cobalt Turquoise, Alizarin Crimson, Cad Orange, Cad Red. These are all artists’ quality paints made by Winsor and Newton.

Watercolor paper: Arches 300gsm medium ( also known as cold press) watercolor paper. I work on the smoother side which is the front of the sheet.

Misc equipment:

Board  to support the watercolor paper and masking tape to attach the paper to the board.

A fine tipped HB pencil ( I use a .7mm clutch pencil for this as it has a predicable point and doesn’t require sharpening).

A spray bottle with a fine mish spray – trigger bottles give too strong a spray, I prefer spray bottles that you have to press down to activate.

Drawing buildings and street scene

Because I wanted the drawing of the buildings to be reasonably accurate I started with an initial pencil drawing. Attention to correct linear perspective was required. The key point is to make sure of is that as objects move closer towards eye level (or the horizon) the parts which are lower than eye level move up towards it. While the parts that are above eye level move down towards it. An idea of where the vanishing point is for each object is also important, however with a relatively simple scene like this you can just draw the objects as they appear in the photo and it will turn out alright.

Basically my drawing just includes the main shapes, any details will be added later directly with the pen and ink.

Fig 3: Drawing of country street scene prior to pen and ink

Once the drawing is completed I soften any marks I feel are too dark as my next step is to cover most of the painting surface with a watercolor wash. This wash will fix (make permanent) the pencil marks to the paper. Most of these marks will be gone over with ink however, but if there are any I want to adjust now is the time.

The next step in this pen and ink techniques demonstration is to lay down a loose wet on wet watercolor wash.

Continue to: Wet on wet under painting for this pen and ink techniques demonstration