Review: Drawing in Pen & Ink

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a book review so today I plan to talk about a handy manual that can help you in drawing comics.  The main tool used in drawing comics is the pen.  Some out there prefer using the brush and I have talked about that on this blog before.  But for me and many others out there, the pen is the number tool in drawing comics, be it the technical pen, the marker or the dip pen.  So how can you improve your pen drawing technique?  Today, I can recommend a very good book on that.  The title in question is Drawing in Pen & Ink of the “First Steps” series by Claudia Nice, published in 1997 by North Light Books (ISBN 9780891347170).

Drawing in Pen & Ink by Claudia Nice

The book starts out with an overview of the materials used in pen drawing.  While the book’s emphasis is on the technical pen (such as the Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph), she touches on dip pens like the crow quill and on markers.  The techniques in this book (more on that in a moment) can be applied to pretty much any type of pen.  In addition to the pen varieties available, Nice talks about surfaces for drawing, sketchbooks and types of inks you can use.

The next part of Drawing in Pen & Ink goes over basic techniques and exercises.  Pen control exercises are shown where you draw various lines and these are designed to get you used to drawing with the pen as well as to learn control.  These exercises, I feel, are worth the price of the book alone.  If you are to draw comics well, then constant practice with the pen is a must and learning control is even more important if you are to draw well and with clarity.  Comics are a visual medium and you must communicate information to the reader.  If you can’t properly handle a pen to communicate information, dialogue, story, etc in your drawings, you will lose the reader.

Pen control practice

The page you see there is some of the practice I’ve been doing.  Using markers and the ballpoint pen, I’ve done the pen control exercises in the book over and over again.  Already, I’m seeing improvement as I have better control with my lines.

As for the rest of the book, Nice talks about the seven basic pen stroke techniques (line drawing, contour lines, parallel lines, crosshatching, stippling, scribble lines, wavy lines and crisscross lines.  More is included about tips on rendering subjects in pen like trees, landscapes, people, still lifes and so on.  There’s also a number of projects included that you can do for practice and apply what you’ve learned.

Well, that’s good and all but you are all probably wondering how valuable this book is.  It is a MUST-HAVE for your book shelf.  If you draw in pen & ink, you will get better by practicing from this book and applying the skills you learn from it.  Claudia Nice knows her stuff and those pen control exercises are worth the price of the book alone.

You owe it to yourself to grab a copy of Drawing in Pen & Ink today!

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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.
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