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pen & india ink

basic strokes

by JuliannaKunstler.com

Drawing with pen is different than working with other drawing media:

  • no tonal variation of the drawing tip (unlike a graphite pencil).
  • pressure, that you apply while drawing, DOES matter - lines change thickness as you press harder (unlike a fine-tip marker).

So, to create value and texture variations - you need to use different strokes, patterns, alter space between stokes, change stroke length and thickness, overlap strokes, etc. This is why we are going to start with a series of exercises.


types of drawing pens

pen nibs

Drawing nibs come in all shapes and types.

The pointed nibs are in two main categories:
ones that come to a sharp 'needle like' point and those that come to a more blunt point and usually have a rounded nib tip.

There are different types of pen nibs that you can buy.

Drawing nibs are different from calligraphy nibs - they all should have a pointy tip.


Dome (bowl) point nibs - lettering, industrial arts, ink sketches & ornamental work..


Standard fine nibs - stiff action - fine drawing and shading


Standard school nibs - stiff action - very fine lines


practice first

pen drawing

Dip your pen in ink no more than half-way.

Too much ink can cause spills and blotches.

ink drawing

Hold your pea as you would normally hold a pencil or a brush.

Practice on a scrap piece of paper first - you need to find the right position and angle of the pen to draw.


Clean the nib from time to time - as the ink dries on the nib - it stops in flow.

Use a paper towel or a clean cloth. I like paper towels better as they are disposable. It helps to dampen the paper towel when cleaning.

pen strokes exercise