Experimenting with pen drawing


Lately I've been doing my best to branch out from pencil drawing. So far this has mostly stemmed from a desire for color, as I've never been thrilled with the texture of colored pencils. Naturally watercolor was my first choice for its relative ease of use (compared to other painting techniques) and I'm happy with how my skill with the medium is progressing thus far. This post however isn't going to show any of my painting experiments and is instead going to focus on another medium I've gotten back into recently: pen. I appreciate black ink for the boldness that can be hard if not impossible to achieve with pencil.  I've tried stark black-and-white techniques with big blocks of color and slightly more subtle scratchy designs with cross-hatching for shading and nearly pencil-thin lines for details. So far I've enjoyed experimenting with these techniques and have appreciated finishing a drawing that I'm happy with within a single day, something I don't often pull off with pencil. While browsing the internet for inspiration I came across a method called stippling or dotwork where shading is done using only small dots of ink. Greater density of dots makes a darker area while sparser dots make a lighter section.  I figured I'd give the technique a go to continue my experiments and see where it got me. While I appreciate what I've made so far and I enjoy creating thousands of tiny dots more than I probably should, I haven't quite decided exactly how much I like the finished drawings. More specifically, maybe, whether it's something I'll pursue in the long-term. Also something to consider is that I've been using a Micron 01 for stippling which isn't quite as small as the 005 more commonly used to create even smaller dots. Combining several styles is also something I've not yet delved into.


Blue-headed Vireo in two different styles: quick scratchy lines and cross-hatching on the left and stippling on the right. As you can imagine, stippling is a bit more time intensive than what I'm used to with a pen.


Comparing the two techniques up close, this time with stippling on the left. I enjoy the illusion of disarray that stippling can create. If you look close enough all you see are what appear to be random dots. But as you pull away it forms a very clear and sharp image.


Dickcissel in progress using the stippling technique.

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Avian Obsession © 2019 Evan Lipton

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