Pen and ink

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Pen and ink

Postby mdmattin » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:36 am

I've been trying to get better at rendering light, atmosphere, and aerial perspective in pen and ink.
Both are imaginary scenes, based loosely on sketches and memories:

trees and beach sm.jpg
trees and beach sm.jpg (263.08 KiB) Viewed 125 times


waves sm.jpg
waves sm.jpg (199.87 KiB) Viewed 125 times


I'm finding that the key is a balance between precision and freedom - the myriad hatch marks need to be uniform enough to convey tone and texture without calling attention to themselves, but the overall effect needs to flow naturally.

Matthew
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Rebecca » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:29 pm

Hi Matthew,
Nice work. For the effects you want, have you considered more line weight variation?
What pen, ink and paper are you using?
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Russ » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:03 pm

Your clouds are particularly impressive. They always give me trouble in ink!
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Andre Jute » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:18 am

I too love the clouds. The whole of those drawings are very beautiful. One is struck by the forethought of large dark areas leaving tiny negative white spaces in the trees and the waves, and the patience and control required in execution.
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Alitogata » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:03 am

Hm.. I like the trees I like the way you made the sea, but the clouds look way too stylized ( I'm not sure though if I used the right word).
I mean that clouds shouldn't have been depicted with lines. It would be better if you made their shape by drawing the sky and left the paper empty where the clouds are supposed to be. Negative drawing or something like this.

ETA: You draw the clouds with a different style of drawing. That is what I mean. The trees and the sea look realistic the clouds not.
Damn.. I don't know how to write this in English. :roll:
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Rebecca » Wed Dec 13, 2017 9:11 pm

Alitogata wrote:...the clouds look way too stylized...The trees and the sea look realistic the clouds not...

It's a game of choices. The goal is to explore lighting and atmospheric matters with it seems just one shade of only one line width. All of the subjects in the real scene (trees, grasses, clouds, water) have visually penetrable edges -- up close you can see through and beyond the masses at their edges. But with the self imposed limits, how should they be depicted?

An unbroken line that tracks a border with no marks inside suggests a flat, solid opaque surface within. A series of lines running parallel within the same border and also opening out as the surface faces front transforms flat into volume, as well as bringing the possibility of open, visually penetrable "cage-bars". If within a picture, for the same object type there is a mix of plain outline for some volumes, and then incrementally more separated lines in other volumes, contradiction might happen. What is the nature of this big system in the sky? Am I looking at stacked billboards in front of rounded translucent volumes in the rear? Normally, we expect to see the opposite in pictures -- as things recede, volumes convert to flat overlapping shapes. Volume depiction is saved for the fore and middle ground. But how do you retain desired values in the scene? If you add volume and the possibility of translucency with lines paralleling the edges, you also darken the clouds. But with the self imposed limits, what if you want the clouds to get brighter and lighter as they approach?

Why are the outlined water masses more plausibly translucent in the two pictures? For one thing, the addition of lines within the volumes reduces contrast, so the outline is not so noticeable. The beach scene water contains only generally parallel lines, which gives cage-bar penetrability. But the wave picture presents internal hatches that T into the outlines. Doesn't this make the waves more opaque? Due to the shapes of these volumes, and the environment in which they sit, we understand this is choppy water, thus we can mentally override seemingly opaque effects. At first we can overlook how the white outlined zones in the chop look like slips of paper appliqued to the drawing. If these white zones are reflections of the sun, this is a good depiction, because highlights (reflections of the sun) are understood to have stark edges and be opaque over their surfaces. But if these outlined white zones are meant to be foam, there is a problem. But with the self imposed limits, how do you depict foam if you need it to be white?

Some of the problems here have to do with keeping bright masses bright while using the self imposed limits. It can easily be done. There are numerous solutions. It's a game of choices.
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Alitogata » Thu Dec 14, 2017 9:48 am

Sorry but I can't follow/understand what you say Rebecca. I had to read your post three times and still I'm not that sure that I got what you say. :( Can you write it a bit more simpler please? :)

Let me tell you though how I think it.
Depicting something with pen is all about values. So the clouds must have values too. They are not all white and the areas between different values are not depicted with outlines. Highlights and darks are depicted with values.

For example. ( random photo that I picked up from google images- photos make my life easier!)

If someone wants to depict this with pen and ink

colour.jpg
colour.jpg (225.09 KiB) Viewed 39 times


s/he has actually to depict this:

gray scale.jpg
gray scale.jpg (142.65 KiB) Viewed 39 times


which in pen and ink translates to something with higher contrast, so something like this:

gray scale high contrast.jpg
gray scale high contrast.jpg (163.83 KiB) Viewed 39 times



There are no outlines on the clouds, there are just values of grey that have to made with ink lines but not depicted with outlines. The areas that get more light are the white of the paper and their borders are created by the surrounding values. By the time that the clouds have curves then the values have to be created with curved lines when sketching of course, (it depends on what is the technique someone uses). You can't depict clouds with curvy lines that easy on wood engravings for instance. But wood engravings are a good example on how to depict everything with pen and ink as this for example:


https://www.periodpaper.com/collections ... -xgag3-040

Same logic different technique. That is what I meant on my previous post but I couldn't write it right. :roll: Sorry! :lol:
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Andre Jute » Thu Dec 14, 2017 11:28 am

That engraving that you show is a week's work, minimum, for a craftsman who served a seven-year apprenticeship. And the painter he was copying worked out all the values for him. A week's work for a highly trained artisan is clearly not a sketching technique.

But I take your point. Finely graduated crosshatching would do it, but tidy crosshatching is very time-consuming. I think something like you want could be achieved by carrying a water brush with sumi and a water brush with plain water, to be mixed on the page, and maybe you could get the eight values of grey the old-time Japanese got from sumi. But you'd have to make a different arrangement to carrying a sketchbook and a fountain pen in your pocket... I, for one, do not fancy getting that outdoor water-resistant sumi that Russ mentions in his book on the net as mokkan boku (available as Boku no hani or Sumi no hani from Rakuten -- look for the maker, Kamai's name and watch the postage) on my clothes. Or my skin.

But this scheme, though eventually you might ruin a cheap water brush or two with the sumi, sounds pretty possible to me. I have had that pigment-based pale brown that I make for myself in the same water brush for months and it didn't clog it up. I've also had it in Pilot Parallel Pens, the nylon version of the Kuretake No 13 fude brush (I haven't tried it with my sable fude, Kuretake No 50, and don't intend to), and the Duke/Crown 551 "Confucius" fude pen, and the Platinum 3775 "Century" Soft Fine, and several cheap Chinese fude pens that I was prepared to sacrifice for an experiment before putting it in the pricier gear, and none have come to any harm, though the cheaper the pen (with the obvious exception of Sailor's cheapest Fude de Mannen which was designed for pigmented ink), the more likely it would become a slow starter after being unused for a few days with pigmented ink in it, at which point I would dip the nib in the compartmented water dish always on my desk, and bingo, it writes again. I also concluded that the best, near universal, pigmented black is Platinum's Carbon Black -- it works with fountain pens that Noodler's Bulletproof Black silts up. However, I imagine there's shellac in the more waterproof sumi, so a cheap water brush is all I'm willing to put sumi into. But you don't need to use sumi, you can use Platinum's Carbon Black, Noodler's BPB, which dilutes well enough, W&N's Calligraphy Black or Blueback or Sepia (the sepia has to be washed out at least once a month because it appears to use less finely-ground pigment than the other colors), and De Atramentis also has a pigmented line for fountain pens, though I haven't tried it yet; there's a lot more choice in lightfast blacks than there was only a few years ago, and water brushes are so cheap now, they're throwaway items.

Though I take your point that there are other ways to do it, and addressed one possible way, I saw what Matthew was getting at with the lines in the clouds. It's a convention sketchers and pencil artists understand. I didn't give it any thought when I saw the sketches, but now that I've looked at them again, I think Matthew's solution is intrinsically superior, at least in his execution, to several other possibilities.
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Rebecca » Thu Dec 14, 2017 8:59 pm

Alitogata wrote:Sorry but I can't follow/understand what you say Rebecca. I had to read your post three times and still I'm not that sure that I got what you say. :( Can you write it a bit more simpler please? :)
...There are no outlines on the clouds, there are just values of grey that have to made with ink lines but not depicted with outlines. The areas that get more light are the white of the paper and their borders are created by the surrounding values...

I'm sorry, Alitogata. I knew when I wrote this that it might be hard to follow. Pen and ink can describe scenes like this, but using a plain continuous outline with no internal modifications like dot screen, tonal hatching, parallel or cross contour lines, scribbles, hand drawn dots, can make the contained area look flat with no volume. I didn't want to give a solution because there are so many possible choices. Before I give a sample solution, I need to point out that Matthew's sketch could be adjusted to please your eye, just by darkening (add more lines near) the bottoms of the clouds where they are closest to the horizon line, and then gradually reduce the additions to create less jump between the terrestrial and sky realms. There is a good chance that the scene Matthew was recalling did have this darker rim at the bottom back of the cloud masses. Explanatory transitions commonly fix issues that had seemed to be within featured parts. As a teacher, I watched a lot of good starts on paintings descend into mono-tonal compositions as students tried to fix perceived problems with their rendering. All they really needed was to explain something about the shared environment of the parts in the scene -- usually something to do with shadows in enclosed spaces, like between the features.

Yes, there are no outlines on clouds in real scenes. In fact, there are rarely outlines on any subject in a real scene. Yet for good reasons, we routinely use outlines to isolate features in scenes. Outlines do not need to be continuous, however. They don't need to possess the same line weight, or value, or color. Here, Matthew seems to have decided to use a single line weight and a single value and a single color to describe a scene that conveys rather ethereal effects. That's fine. I enjoy walking a tightrope, myself. It stretches unused parts of my brain. Anyway, since Matthew isn't using anything but one shade of ink, and he is only using one line width, all he has to work with is line length, direction, whether it curves or kinks, and fill density. Each of these can be limited as well, but let's say Matthew wants full access to all of these qualities... To make the clouds less billboard-like, he could use dashed lines. And the dashes can be as even or uneven as he likes. Dashes would allow for a bit more volume rendering while keeping the cloud masses lighter. But this is only one solution. It may not suit Matthew's wishes for atmospheric effects. I always like to see unexpected solutions for inconsistent images.
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Alitogata » Fri Dec 15, 2017 8:59 am

Ok.. I understand now. Thank you. :)
I'm not saying that it isn't Matthew's right to use whatever solution he likes. I just said that the upper parts of the sketches are not made with the same pen and ink technique as their lower part.
The land and the sea is realistic. The sky is not. And that is not a criticism or something, don't misinterpret neither my sayings or my intention please... I don't reject the sketches. I just observed something. At the end of the day and if anything else, sketches are all about experimentation.

@Andre. I think Andre that the sumi technique would have had the same effect. I have the notion that if you don't use the same technique on the whole of the subject and in such a small scale, then you risk to cancel either the one or the other result because each technique has its pros and cons and these come forward when you divide the sketch in two distinctive parts, that are made with two completely different techniques. There is no continuity, or it is tricky to create this sense of continuity, in such cases between the upper and the lower part of the painting, sketch etc. Mixing and matching techniques is risky unless you mix and match everything or you know exactly what to do in order to combine the different techniques.

Let me give you an example: on the sketch that I made the other day with watercolour graphite and watercolour,( the one with the pot and the grapes I posted on my thread), someone at wetcanvas told me that the watercolour grapes popped up, while the rest of the sketch looked faded.

The idea to mix and much these two different media was interesting as a concept, but the guy who told me that the area that was painted with the watercolour graphite looked faded, could probably see that the values between the two different areas, made by two different media, had distinct value or other differences.
If I had reworked the values on the watercolour graphite area he wouldn't be able to observed it but I didn't bother to do so ( I admit it :lol: ha ha) but on the other hand he was right on what he said.
When he pointed out this then I realised that he probably was right.

I'm still experimenting with watercolour graphite thought I think that it is quite tricky to master this medium. I'll start a new thread about this medium because it is quite interesting subject. I'm going to start it now.. :)
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Rebecca » Fri Dec 15, 2017 9:43 am

Alitogata wrote:I like the trees I like the way you made the sea, but the clouds look way too stylized...I mean that clouds shouldn't have been depicted with lines. It would be better if you made their shape by drawing the sky and left the paper empty where the clouds are supposed to be. Negative drawing or something like this...You draw the clouds with a different style of drawing. That is what I mean. The trees and the sea look realistic the clouds not...

...I just said that the upper parts of the sketches are not made with the same pen and ink technique as their lower part.
The land and the sea is realistic. The sky is not. And that is not a criticism or something, don't misinterpret neither my sayings or my intention please... I don't reject the sketches. I just observed something. At the end of the day and if anything else, sketches are all about experimentation...

Thank you, Alitogata. I apologize for misunderstanding the thrust of your comments. The sketches do please your eye, after all. I wish I could communicate in more than one language as you do. It would be worth the moments of confusion that are bound to come up.

Speaking only for myself, I see problems in the pen work on different parts of the subjects. These are from memory, so some qualities might not have been remembered while the lines were applied. They are a fine reminder that sketching from memory is difficult but well worth pursuing. In packing for my move, I have come across several sketches I made from memory or imagination, and although they are much cruder than something taken from a scene, I like them. I think I'll do more memory and imagination sketching after looking at these and having this discussion.
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Alitogata » Fri Dec 15, 2017 11:42 pm

Lost in translation! :lol:
Things usually get worst when I'm tired. :roll: :lol:
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Re: Pen and ink

Postby Andre Jute » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:25 am

Yes, I wasn't thinking of using two different media, I was thinking about doing the whole sketch in whatever ink the sketcher fancies, but adding some brushwork in that ink to the pen-workings. I just mentioned sumi as an ink known to shade well. I agree, if an artist wants to use multiple media, he must have a reason, usually being able to achieve an effect he could not otherwise realize, and not just want to do it because someone told him multimedia is cool.
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