Guides To Basic Pen And Ink Techniques

A lot of our readers are interested in drawing. So, on the chance that it might be useful to some of you, we’ve put together a short list of sites where you can learn basic pen and ink techniques.

Pen and Ink Drafting Techniques


There’s a channel on YouTube called GMS Art with a collection of short 20- or 30-second videos demonstrating how to create stippling, hatching, parallel lines and other basic techniques. Well done videos, easy to follow. Seems to be a production of the Greenbelt Middle School art department.


The Student Art Guide is a website that offers free art education articles and tutorials. One of the most basic pen and ink techniques the site teaches is line drawing.

Line Drawing A Guide for Students
Image Student Guide.Com

When we first picked up a pen or pencil and started making marks on paper, we began with line. Whether self-taught, through trial and error, or guided by others, we learned how line defines form, creates structure, divides a frame, traces contour, creates tonal variation (cross-hatching, for example) and leads the eye from one part of a work to another.

The step-by-step instructions explain contour drawing, continuous line drawing and gesture drawing. They also provide plenty of examples so you can see how others have done it.

The Smithsonian also provides some basic pen and ink instruction on its Studio Arts site. That includes suggestions for materials, as well as tips for creating, among other things, something called scumbling.

And one of the most in-depth free materials that we’ve seen was put together by eight members of the Sketching Workshop, an artist group with the motto “All that is not given is lost.” Editors note the website is no longer available however they now have an excellent Facebook Group with 150 members where there is loads of advice and you can join and interact with them.

Sketching Worksop
Image Sketching Workshop Facebook

The guide Pen & Ink Drafting Techniques is a downloadable pdf with essays and instructions from the members, each discussing his or her personal approach to drawing. I downloaded the 8 mb document with no problems.

Artists from all over the world share tips on everything from how to hold your pen for proper lines to how time limits affect the kind of line styles that you use. They cover materials and techniques and offer advice on what has worked for each of them, and what hasn’t. Included are scads of pieces of their own art that illustrate the techniques they are sharing.

Hopefully that will be enough to get our neophyte artists working on creations of their own.

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Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

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