In this post I will address how to learn to draw with pen. Pen is one of the oldest and in many ways a unique drawing medium. While there are many approaches to drawing with pen, I will cover here approach in which lines and other marks are used to draw with pen (without use of any ink wash or watercolours).
Main topics for a beginner are always pen choices, how to learn and what to draw. Let’s discuss these in detail.
Pen for Drawing:
Many pen drawing books start with detailed description of different options for pen etc and this often gives the impression that big assortment of pen paraphernalia is needed to draw with pen. This is not so. All you need is a good quality gel pen or a beginners fountain pen to get started. Different choices for pen to draw is discussed in detail here but as mentioned it is enough to have disposable good quality fine tip gel pen or felt tip pen to get started.
How to Learn:
It is my firm belief that the best way to learn to draw is in the context of actual drawing. As an example, let’s look the the following stroke.
If you were asked to just practice this stroke in isolation, you would undoubtedly get quite bored and unmotivated soon. Instead if you were to practice this stroke in the context of drawing a tree trunk, it will motivate and encourage you to draw and practice more after getting early positive results.
This is the premise behind my workbooksand free tutorials. The focus is on learning to draw in the context of actual drawing. Another thing useful in this context is the use of ‘templates’. A template provides initial outline and strokes with guidance for practising those strokes. With the use of templates, beginners don’t have to bother with doing their own initial outline drawings and compositions which they are not equipped to do at that stage anyway. Templates provide a safe zone for people to just pick up a pen and practice strokes and actually draw something while learning to draw. This lowers barrier to entry for anybody learning to draw in a safe motivating environment.
Another important consideration for beginners is clear step by step illustrations. Too often in drawing books, first step or 2 are shown and then final polished results are presented without explanation of how such polished results were obtained. This often leaves the learner baffled, disappointed and frustrated without clear understanding of how to get to the end result of what is expected. Any drawing instructions that are truly helpful in learning to draw should include All steps to achieve the desired end result presented.
This is the approach to learning taken in FREE online learning resources you will find here and in my workbooks. They include step by step clear illustrations of use of different pen strokes in the context of actual drawing with templates to practice provided. The learner still needs to put time and effort to practice and learn but rest of hurdles are taken care of.
What to Draw:
Some subject areas are better to get started with drawing compared to others. For a beginner I would suggest landscapes are best way to get started for following reasons:
Issue of perspective is minimal: For subjects like human anatomy, there is certain perspective in orientation and ratios that need to be observed in an outline that are very difficult for beginners to get right and leads to early frustration. For a tree, any orientation of its structure is plausible as they come in limitless size and shapes. Most of elements of nature can take many different shapes and are thus ideal for beginners to attempt before getting bogged down in getting ‘right’ perspective.
Limitless compositions: For beginners, it is important to be able to do quick drawings and practice from their imagination in what ever time they get. Landscapes are ideal for this as limitless variations and compositions can be easily put together by combining different elements in different ways.
‘Mistakes’ can be easily masked: with pen there is no erasure and this leads to hesitancy in beginners in free use of pen when a small ‘error’ might ‘ruin’ the drawing, like in case of face drawing. In a landscape any improvisation is plausible and any ‘mistakes’ can be easily incorporate into improvisation of the drawing. This leads to more willingness to explore and experiment with use of pen which is very vital in initial stages of learning.
For above reasons I think landscapes are great way to start to learn to draw with pen.
I would summarise my thoughts on how to learn to draw with pen as following:
A good quality gel pen or a fine tip marker is all you need to get started. Consult my free tutorials and workbooks to learn mark making and drawing with pen in the context of actually drawing elements of nature with use of free templates. You will find full step by step illustrations to understand how to incrementally improve the drawing. Once you learn drawing different elements of nature and compositions using them, you will be able to put a landscape together form your imagination anytime and steadily improve with practice.