Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sketching with Ink Video

One of my favorite places to sketch is the natural history museum. There's one on the Yale University campus about 1/2 hour from me.

If you don't have one near by, a nature center is also a good place.  Usually I'm sketching from the dioramas but this month in conjunction with an exhibit about dinosaur eggs and hatchlings the museum is incubating and hatching  emu eggs! Seems Emu are the closest living relative to many types of dinosaurs.

The Sketchbook 

I'm working in a new sketchbook, a Stillman & Birn Zeta in size A4. That's a standard size that's used in the UK and most of Europe I gather, but it's completely new to me.  It's big which is what I wanted after filling two smallish books over the winter. It's size is 8 1/4 x 11 3/4 which is taller and a bit narrower than the usual 8 1/2 x 11 that I'm used too. It's hardbound and when it's opened flat that means I have 16 1/2 x 23 1/2 to work with and that's A LOT of space!

Ink Brushes

As I've been trying to find my way with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen I began to get interested in using ink in a water brush to sketch with.  This makes a nice change of pace from using  a fountain pen or marker. I decided to try using some of my favorite fountain pen inks in a water brush. A water brush is a paintbrush with a plastic handle that you can fill with water and use with your watercolors set (so you don't have to drag a container of water around with you) or you can fill the handle with ink or paint or whatever else you'd like to use. 

I like the Sakura and Pentel water brushes and show both in the picture. I also show a Kuretake ink brush that is the same thing but comes already filled with ink, in this case mid-brown #65. The ink is usually thin and I handle it just like a watercolor wash. Sometimes I add water colors to the sketch too. If the ink is not waterproof or at least water resistant then just be careful adding watercolors as things will run and bleed which you might want, otherwise leave a little white paper between areas.

For the emu chicks above I started by sketching with a black marker to get their size, shape, and general pattern of markings. If you click on the image above it will enlarge and you can see how lose and scribbly these sketches are as I found my way in and around their shape and markings) Then I brushed over the sketch with the water brush filled with Lie de The ink which is a pale warm golden brown, the color of a nice Darjeeling tea, thus the name of the ink which translates to tea, or tea colored ink. The ink dries pretty quickly, so I can go right back into the sketch with the Kuretake mid-brown to indicate the darker markings. I waited just a little while for it to dry and then used a UniBall Signo white pen to add the fluffy downy quality of the feathers.

Painting with Ink a Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words than a video is worth ten thousand! I'm sharing with you a homemade video. That means I had to hold the camera with one hand and demonstrate the sketching process with the other hand. All in all I think it came out pretty well given the limitations to filming and sketching at the same time! Please bare with me during the few times the camera is not exactly focused on where I'm sketching. There's plenty of good stuff to enjoy and just a few blips when that occurs. It's free and it's fun and I think you'll find it interesting!


  1. I really enjoyed this, Jan. Now I can't wait to try my waterbrush!

  2. Thanks Jan - too much fun! very inspiring.

  3. Thank you for sharing! It was a pleasure to watch you sketch and paint!


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