How to Ink a Drawing: Tools and Techniques You Need to Know

You’ve sketched the perfect drawing. Now what? It’s time to learn how to ink the piece you’ve made. Since it’s Inktober month we thought this was the perfect time to let you in on the best tools and techniques for perfectly inking your pieces.

Are you following along with the Inktober prompt? You can win art supplies and books! Get all the contest details here.

How to Ink: Picking Your Tools

There are many types of pens available, and each is made in a range of sizes and styles. Some pens will work better for you than others, depending on your purpose. Felt-tip pens made for scrapbooking and comics are popular and usually waterproof. They work best for drawing lines of uniform thickness and come in a range of colors.

If you like the fell of drawing with a brush, brush-tipped pens are available with either felt tips or hair tips and have the advantage of the greatest range of line width with one pen. Nib pens are another option, commonly used by comics professionals. Similar to calligraphy pens, they draw lines of varying width depending on the direction and amount of pressure you place on them. You can use one nib holder for a variety of different nibs.

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Felt-Tip Pen
A felt tip creates uniform lines. Any thickness must be made by going over the line several times.

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Nib Pen
A nib allows you to draw both thick and thin lines and change the nib to a different type.

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A Small paintbrush with ink creates thicker lines but has the flexibility to draw thin lines or vary the width expressively.

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Inking Tools
Use one small pen holder and a selection of nibs. Nibs numbered 100 through 108 are common for drawing comics and illustrations. A bottle of waterproof ink, scratch paper and a wet paper towel for cleaning the nib are also helpful.

Inking Techniques

Nib pens work differently than other pens and take some practice. Similar to a calligraphy pen, the ink comes separately.

Remember to always draw the pen toward you instead of pushing it. Pushing the pen the wrong way will make jagged lines and damage the nib. Instead, move your paper around to make drawing certain lines more comfortable. 

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1 – Holding the nib with the widest part facing up creates a thicker line.
2 – Turn the nib to the side for a thinner line.
3 – Drawing an arc following your drawing hand will be easier than pushing against the tip.

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Shading Techniques
Use crosshatching to create darker areas. Stippling—small dots—can be used for shading or to create fabric pattern and lace decals.

Varying Lines
The beauty of using a nib pen is the ability to vary the line width with one nib. Practice alternately putting pressure on the nib and releasing it as you draw it across the paper. Try changing the angle of the pen while drawing.

How to Ink a Drawing, Step-By-Step

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Step 1 – Ink the Outline
Ink the innermost lines in your sketch as well as objects in the foreground that overlap other lines. The outlines of larger forms can be thicker than inner details. Work from top to bottom to avoid smearing ink with your hand.

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Step 2 – Ink Inner Forms
Ink the outline of her face, the main drapery lines, inside the flowers and shadows between sections of hair and the edge of her belt.

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Step 3 – Ink Details
Add smaller details like facial features, designs on her belt and decorations on the dress. Add depth to the hair and drapery by drawing lines that follow the direction of the drapery and main lines of the hair. Ink the outline of the background flowers last with a thinner line. Since they are in the background, keep them simple.


You can find this and more about how to ink, how to draw and how to paint characters in Fantasy Fashion Art Studio by Meredith Dillman. Available on Amazon, the North Light Shop and wherever books are sold!


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