Watercolor and pen and ink

Watercolor and Pen and Ink


A Match Made in Heaven

Watercolor and pen and ink work well together. Using watercolor and pen and ink together is a popular art-making technique. This combination of media has been used by artists and illustrators for years. The properties of these mediums compliment each other nicely. The looseness of the watercolor contrasts the hard lines that can be produced by the pen and ink. Add the color and expression with the paint and add the detail and definition with pens. The two mediums are truly a match made in heaven.

Another benefit to using watercolor combined with pen and ink is the fact that this combination is great for travel and "on site" artworks.  Watercolor paintings can easily be made in the field and ink pens obviously travel well.  Pack a sketchbook, some watercolors, and some pens and head out to make some art.

Watercolor or Ink First?

The question that most students ask is, "Which medium do you apply first, the watercolor or the ink?"  The answer is simply a matter of preference.  Some artists prefer to put down the lines with ink first and apply the watercolor using the lines as a guide.  My personal preference is to apply the watercolor first, and add the ink over the watercolor.  I have found that when the lines are drawn first, they are easily covered by subsequent watercolor applications.  I prefer the lines to be sharp, which is why I opt to apply the ink over the watercolor.   

Another Approach

Although combining these mediums can produce sharp, highly rendered drawings, I chose to share a looser approach to this combination of media.  The technique that I am sharing with you here is quick and loose, which lends itself to sketching, perhaps in a sketchbook or journal.  Sketching loosely with pen and ink and watercolor allows you draw and paint on location and capture important information about light and value quickly.  Also, watercolor and pens are easy to cleanup. 

There are a variety of surfaces suitable for combining pen and ink and watercolor.  In the video demonstration featured here, I am using cold press illustration board.  Illustration board is suitable for a wide variety of media.  I have found that this surface works well with both pen and ink and for watercolor painting.

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The following video demonstrates how to use watercolor paints with colored pen and inks in a loose sketch... 

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