Experiments with Ink and Water

I’ve never enjoyed using a water brush to paint with. But I’ve recently discovered that I quite enjoy it as a drawing tool. So far it’s being put to use for quick black and white portraits. Here are a few.

This set uses a Pentel Pocket brush pen for the blacks and a water brush filled with diluted ink for a single grey. I use DeAtramentis Document Ink in all my pens. The ink mix? I’ve never really measured, but I add just enough water for it to be decidedly grey and not black. Dilute ink dries lighter than it looks when you first put it down on paper, especially on absorbent paper.

The sketches are all quite small, I’m adding in some closeups so you can see the fun mark-making and the look of the ink on paper that I’m enjoying quite a bit.

bw2Stripey clothing is fun to draw because you need to figure where you’re going to indicate stripes: I try not to draw in everything. It makes it more interesting when the viewer fills in the gaps.

Here’s another page. This one uses a water brush with dilute ink and a Sailor Bent Nib pen. The grey line with the water brush is the first gestural continuous-line mark I’m making before moving on to adding more details with pen.

More sketches with gestural underdrawing in grey ink.


In these last sketches I’m working with a Pentel Brush Pen for the darkest darks, a water brush with dilute ink for the greys, and a second water brush with just plain water. You can see in the closeups that it helps me soften edges and create more greys.

It’s a bit more complex and harder to manage than just the single flat grey, but I like the range of tones and edges I can get, so I’m going to work with this some more and see where it goes.




Working like this is new to me, and I’ve mainly been sketching my family at home. But I’m excited about how much I can do with a small range of tools, so I plan to take my kit out in the field next and try it out on my urban sketches.


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in Close to home, Everyday Sketches, people, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Experiments with Ink and Water

  1. sirithiri says:

    Thank you so much for this quick tutorial, I love my water brushes but I am trying to use more ink (inspired by YOU!) in my sketches and look at my use of line, shading etc. thanks for this so much!


  2. Sharon Stover says:

    Thank you sharing! I really need to work on “people” but gave up. This may get me going again.


  3. Bernadette says:

    Thanks for this experimental post using water brushes. I love quick gesture drawings and this is an interesting way to approach them. I will try this one. Your sketches are great…especially like the stripes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MAGNY TJELTA says:

    Great job! It is always fun to see others sketches and how they use the same supplies. I love my Pentel Brush Pen but I never use it together with the water brush, but I will try it out too

    Liked by 1 person

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