Ink on Paper Drawings — What Materials to Use?
January 9, 2014 12:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm a doodler that likes to make abstract drawings. I'm interested in actually spending some time "doodling with purpose" with an eye toward making something(s), eventually, that might be worth hanging, framed on my wall. I primarily do black ink on white paper. What kind of ink/pens should I be using? What kind of paper?
posted by papercake to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
This is going to be so personal/subjective that you just really need to try out everything and see what clicks with you. As in, go into a physical Utrecht/Dick Blick store and try out the tester pens for a couple hours.

But personally, I'm a big fan of India ink, water, and a crow quill pen with a variety of attachments. If you go that route, the paper should be sturdy enough to hold up to fairly wet media. So mixed media/watercolor/printmaking papers would be my answer, with BFK Rives and Stonehenge being my favorites.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:29 PM on January 9, 2014

There are no 'should's. It depends on the effect you're after.
I suggest that you go to a good art supplies store, and ask if you can try some pens and some types of paper. See what looks good and feels nice to you. Buy some things that do, and try them out in different combinations.
It's all almost completely about your own preferences. And the people at the store will tell you if the things you want to try are incompatible with each other.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:31 PM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: Sakura Micron pens are the go-to if you want a fine line in a decent black that's waterproof and portable. I like Bristol board in the smooth finish, since it's heavy and smooth and, if you buy a good brand, acid-free.

I don't suggest fountain pens or dip pens for people who are not used to them. They can be very frustrating if you're used to pens that just work with no hassle. For paper, anything is OK but acid - and lignin - free is ideal. If you frame something right, you can minimize how much it deteriorates, so go ahead and doodle with a ballpoint on an old envelope!
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I agree; it's all about finding what works best for you. Trying different art supplies is half the fun!

Personally, I love Sakura Pigma Micron pens for doodling; they make such nice clean smooth lines. I usually like the paper in most spiral-bound sketchbooks just fine, but I agree with blnkfrnk on the bristol recommendation. It's sturdy and really a pleasure to draw on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:46 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I came in here to recommend Micron pens and smooth Bristol board as well. I draw in black ink on white paper just as you do, and I consistently get compliments on my nice, clean lines. I'm not much of an artist, but the combination of consistent ink and smooth paper makes strikingly clean lines pretty foolproof.
posted by adiabat at 1:06 PM on January 9, 2014

I love my Sakura Micron pens -- definitely what you're looking for!
posted by Falwless at 1:10 PM on January 9, 2014

Fifth'ing the recommendation for Sakura Microns. I combine them with colored pencils when doing traditional illustration. They've always been great for me, but YMMV. I suggest grabbing a few different styles or brands to see what works best for you and your particular art style.
posted by stubbehtail at 1:19 PM on January 9, 2014

As everyone's said it's whatever suits. I've not done any pen and ink for a while but I've actually had some pleasing results that suited my style with just a biro on ordinary paper / sketch book. I also liked using a brush pen. Dip pens can be cool too. (Caveat - my inking style was deliberately pretty scruffy/scratchy and I was used to writing with a fountain pen)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:41 PM on January 9, 2014

If you're going to hang it on a wall, you might want bolder and heavier lines. Wonderful things are done with plain old sharpies.
posted by Kabanos at 2:18 PM on January 9, 2014

first, watch this:

in addition to Sakura Microns, use a piece of vellum under your sweaty oily drawing hand to keep the paper clean.
posted by bobdow at 2:58 PM on January 9, 2014

Incidentally, are you aware of the "Zentangle" series of art books/techniques? It sounds very similar to what you're doing, so you might appreciate their technique and product advice. They also have a product line of paper tiles that are very nice, but by no means something you have to stick with to do the technique.
posted by blnkfrnk at 3:26 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: blnkfrnk — funny you should ask! When I looked up the Sakura Micron pens on a couple books about Zentagles came up. And it is very similar to what I have been doing. I find them very relaxing and, being recently unemployed and incredibly stressed out, am finding myself drawn (heh) to doodling as a way to make myself breathe and slow my mind down.

That video you linked to, bobdow, really hit home as well.

(Funny how the mind works. I've been working in my home office, dealing with money issues, and came across a clipboard I used to use when I would doodle at home, and was overcome with a strong feeling that I needed to get back to drawing. Apparently my mind wants some relaxation.)
posted by papercake at 3:33 PM on January 9, 2014

Best answer: If money's an issue right now, and you're curious about the Zentangle (and similar) books, scope them out on Amazon and then check your local library. Ours has several, and they've been fun for inspiration. I'm a doodler, too, but I always seem to get stuck doing the same things, over and over and over...
posted by stormyteal at 7:47 PM on January 9, 2014

The artist James Gurney did some comparative fading tests of markers,but the answer is always to use what you're comfortable with.
posted by The River Ivel at 5:38 AM on January 10, 2014

If you can get your hands on a Pentel Brush Pen (they used to be hard to find but seem to be a lot more ubiquitous now), you get a nice combination of cool, flexible ink brush effects amd easy-to-use pen.
posted by COBRA! at 7:30 AM on January 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

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