The Pen & Ink Experience: Ink Wash

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This course features:
2 Hours of Instruction
8 Videos
7 eBooks
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Lesson Description

A look at applying ink wash using multiple layered applications to build up value and the illusion of form. Use ink wash to create a still life drawing.

Lesson Materials

Bottled ink (carbon black, pigment-based), nylon brushes, 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, masking tape, "HB" graphite pencil, kneaded eraser, water, paper towel.

Lesson Resources

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Lesson Discussion

  1. Hi. Great course. Just one question about the ink wash. I’m not 100% sure when you actually mix water with the ink? Do you have desperate dilutions on you pallet, or do you dpaint straight ink onto the paper and then add water? Thanks!

    • Hi Heinrich,

      You can think of the ink like watercolor. If you need a lighter value, simply add water to the ink on a water resistant palette before going to the surface. It’s also a good idea to use a test sheet of paper too before going to the final surface.

  2. I’m having trouble with the addition of water to the ink having much of an effect. The ink tends to take over. My first attempt at a tonal chart was almost all blacks. Then I tried a controlled experiment. I did different ratios of ink to water in each block, 1/1, 1/3, 1/5, … 1/15, with some difference but not much. I let them thoroughly dry. I kept going on up to 1/30 which of course was some lighter but what I’d consider a mid-tone, far from light. Adding this much water doesn’t seem to be what I see you doing in the video.

    I’ve used graphite pencil and colored pencil and did OK with the earlier pen and ink lessons, but I’ve never done watercolors. Maybe I’m missing some technique from there. I’d appreciate any guidance you could offer.


    • Hi Gary,
      Yes, very very little ink is required to produce the light values. If you use a plate or a palette, you may just put a small dot of ink to begin the mixing, and pull small bits of it into larger quantities of water.

  3. Hi Matt:
    Love your courses. I have a question about cleaning ink from the brush. Is it best to keep your good watercolor brushes for watercolor painting and some for ink. what’s the best way to clean the ink from the brush? thanks, Anne Vancouver, BC

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