1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Sketching with ink or watercolour

Drawing directly with the brush or a reed pen is a lively way of putting your immediate ideas and observations to paper. Although it is more difficult to control the shaping of your subject, the extra sensuality and freshness of applying colour directly to paper well makes up for it.

Here is a detail from a previous post showing some of the variations in tone, even if I used a single colour here. The characters were drawn directly from imagination, as is almost always the case with this series of works on paper:

I use both ink and watercolours for this kind of drawing, and either a bamboo reed pen or a brush. Adding different amounts of clear water creates attractive variations in tone, even if what you are doing is rather a silhouette-like, highly contrasted sketch.
You can dilute the watercolour wash on the paper surface itself —just apply some brushtrokes with water only while the paint is still wet and you get an instant graduated wash. With the reed pen the process is more or less the same; I tend to dip the pen on clean water, then touch more or less slightly the ink in the inkpot or the watercolour pot I have prepared, to get a diluted tone.

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