The Pen & Ink Experience: Portrait Drawing

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2 Hours of Instruction
8 Videos
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Lesson Description

A look at portrait drawing with pen and ink. Cross hatching and the use of cross contour lines play a vital role in communicating the value range and the form of the subject.

Lesson Materials

Dip or nib pens, Carbon Black liquid ink, soft graphite pencil, hard graphite pencil, kneaded eraser.

Lesson Resources

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Lesson Discussion

  1. That’s incredible. Quick question, if I use a Micron pen (or something similar) instead of the nib pen would I want to switch between sizes as I drew in the cross hatching lines?

  2. Brandy, You could do that, but I achieve much variation WITHIN a few, especially contour, lines (as opposed to two sets of lines with different sizes) by using a nib pen(s), rather than micron pens. I just find this presentation much more interesting.

  3. What you have done here is remarkable. I’ve watched it over and over. It cannot be overstated just how absolute the line is when made with a dip pen. Its almost like you are drawing the portrait with the white of the paper and using the ink to cover up the bits you don’t want showing. Its so so hard to do. I’ve tried to dumb it down by drawing the contour lines as you describe but it’s not as simple as it looks. The spacing between the lines can make the whole thing look a mess or make it dark and clumpy. Also each time you dip the pen you can’t be certain that the first stroke will be thin. It seems to me that there is a world of info regarding how to choose what to leave out! A problem you don’t face in the same way with graphite because you can always lift lines or value later. I wish you could make a small addendum explaining HOW you chose to leave out lines. You do mention transitions from light to dark and breaking the line. I’m missing something. Eish, well done.

    • Hi Karen,

      For a couple of reasons. The first is to provide variety in the course. The second reason is that I actually prefer a dip pen. The marks are more organic and the ink is a little darker.

  4. I have never tried to do a portrait before in pen and ink, in fact I have tried to avoid doing portraits at all, but after watching this video I think I am going to have a go! thanks so much, for making it look a wee bit easier than I imagined it would be. I was mesmerised!

  5. I am in awe of your talent. Normally one would expect an artist to excel at say botanical illustration or landscape drawing but you manage to excel in every medium and in every subject. This tutorial is inspirational. I love portraiture but have never thought to use pen and ink. I know it is not easy because I tried a picture of a motorcycle for a friend and it was a disaster but now I can see where I went wrong. I am definitely going to give this a whirl. Congratulations Matte on your incredible talent and also on your ability to make everything look so simple.

  6. I am so excited to have found these lessons! I can’t seem to complete one course before I jump to another because they all are so amazing. I’ve never done pen and ink before, so let’s go there, I thought to myself. It took me weeks of looking at the landscape drawing before even attempting it, but I was happy with the result. This portrait lesson is very challenging in that I have NEVER done portrait OR dip pens. The first attempt (in my opinion) was a disaster. Let me qualify that by saying it was my skill/experience that was lacking, not the instructions. Not a quitter, I will practice more with my dip pen and various size nibs, and give it another go. Thanks Matt for the wonderful lessons and calmly laid out details.

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