How to Improve your Ink Drawings

This is my third year participating in Inktober, and, while I do not claim to be an expert at inking, or drawing, I do understand the struggles artists have with drawing in ink.

Ink is hard to work with because it is permanent. With paint, you can paint over a mistake and try again, unlike in ink, well, unless you are working with white ink, there are very few ways to remedy a mistake in inking.

That is why I like Inktober. It’s an opportunity to try a tough media. It can boost one’s confidence, if viewed in the right way.  However, approach the challenge with a different mindset, and it may destroy your confidence, rather than help build it.

I view Inktober as a way to experiment with my art. I can draw, but I can’t draw really well. Each media has its own technique to make it look good and stand out. Inking requires the artist to know his shadows fairly well. Without proper execution and rendering of light and shadow, you may have a drawing that looks cool, but it could have that nagging sensation at the back of your viewer’s head that keeps gnawing at them that something is not right…

So, how can one improve their ink drawings?

      1. Study. A fairly obvious, but a very necessary step.  If one wants to improve their skill, they have to study and learn.  Inking uses different tools. Are you planning to try to use ink brushes? Fountain pens? Or your regular ball-point pens? Either way, each tool, would necessitate using different techniques. Study up on it. Watch video tutorials, read a book. A quick search in youtube can give you lots of results. If videos aren’t your thing, how about reading a book written by established artists? Depending on your skill level, you could buy a book that teaches you the basics, or pick up a title that covers more advanced topics.
      2. Practice. Confidence in inking is evident in one’s line work. A more experienced artist can make more fluid lines, as opposed to a less experienced one. When I was starting out with inking, my lines tend to be more rigid, shaky and tried their best to follow the outline that I had drawn with a pencil. As I have improved, I learned that I could make less detailed pencil work, and I could let the ink do most of the details. As you practice more, your confidence builds, and your skill will gradually improve.
      3. Pencil if you must. There are some challenge-takers of Inktober that believe that one must only use pure ink in their work. Well, that is their path. Do not be afraid to take your own path. If you must pencil in your work before you can ink them, then go for it! The important thing is that you will be inking it later, and by doing so, you will be improving yourself. However, I would recommend that you do not put too much detail with your pencil works. Perhaps just focus on the basic form, placement of elements and probably a guide on the light and shadow. Detailing with ink is different that detailing with ink.
      4. Do not be afraid to experiment. Get out of your comfort zone. Try things you have not tried before. Are your lines too clean and flat? Try variations in line thickness to add weight to  your illustrations. Try shading with crosshatching. Try a different subject matter. Why not try using ink brushes for an art piece? It does not matter what the result is – as long as you are trying and learning.

I try to have a positive view with Inktober, despite being a very time intensive challenge. I admit that I cannot draw everyday. In fact, I am trying my best to catch up with the daily prompts because my time is limited, and I have to balance things out between work, and an internet challenge, among other things. However, I believe that the core of this challenge is about self-improvement. If you haven’t tried drawing in ink before, now is a good time to start. I hope you like ink as a medium!

Happy inking.


Author: jomz

Web Designer and Developer, Graphic Artist. Writer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: